Posts Tagged ‘Deli’

… and “MAD” in every damn sense of the word!!

You know.. when you have something that other people want :: in this case cheese, pepper ham or a pickle :: you inevitably wind up in that little town called CREDIT that’s tucked nicely between ROCK and HARD PLACE.

So.. here’s what I believe :: you might want to take notes because this is going to become important later on in the post :: .. I sincerely believe that we :: talking about me and Chief here specifically :: have a moral obligation to help those in need. It’s part of my faith. Everybody runs into hard times at some point in their lives and I wouldn’t be able to call my self a follower of Christ is I turned my back on those in need. Especially if they have kids.. because as we all know.. kids shouldn’t be made to suffer because their parents can’t do what they’re suppose to do.

But yknow.. all that is nice and stuff but don’t ever take my kindness for my weakness because then it isn’t pretty.

So when we opened the store, the first thing we said was that we weren’t going to get into the whole credit thing but that got hard once we got to know the people in our neighborhood and their situations. Half the time I think we should put one of those cups on the counter collecting a nickel for every problem we hear.. Like Lucy in the Charlie Brown comics.

And so it started with one person and snow balled from there. Not a big snow ball, though. The thing about is is that when these people would pay their tab, they would do it with food stamps.

NOTE: In case you didn’t know, it takes 10 business days for us to get the food stamp money from the state.

So now it’s bad enough that I’m waiting for the tab to be paid, but now I have to wait even more to get the actual money? The money that has to replace my stock?

And so in order to circumvent that, we told people getting credit that they would have to pay their tab in cash. Most of them understood when explained it to them..

But then a funny thing happened.

The people who had credit with us, started to work that credit into their budget and you know once you get into a hole it’s hard to get out of it… so I had a few people that I could count on to come in every week or so, get stuff, pay it back in another week or so and then the whole thing would start over again.

Ok. Well.. I may have been able to live with that except for a few things that happened. I’m going to explain it to you here and you tell me if I’m wrong or not:

Person 1: She comes in on a Wednesday to pay her 23.00 tab. She hands me 40.00 but my register is low on cash and I can’t make the change. I ask her if she has anything smaller and she goes into her pocket and pulls out a wad of cash and winds up giving me exact change. The next day, Thursday, she comes in asking for credit again.

I don’t know what that wad of cash was for.. but don’t you think she should have gotten what she needed on Wednesday when she paid her tab? I do.

Person 2: She isn’t on welfare.. doesn’t get food stamps.. has one pre-teen daughter and a husband that works. She isn’t able to work for whatever reason and so they would come in and get stuff and when her husband got paid, would take care of their tab. The time between making the bill and paying the bill was getting longer but the thing that really pissed me off was that she was having an in-home demonstration and needed stuff for her guests.. so she came into the store and got all this stuff and didn’t tell me it was going to go on a tab until after everything was cut. Do you see something wrong with that? I sure as hell do.

Person 3: She has four kids and two of her sons come in all the time. Her, not so much. But one day she came into the store, asked to see Chief outside and with tears in her eyes tells him that she isn’t one to ask for help but she has to put her pride aside because she had no food for her kids. She offered Chief her driver’s license and food stamp card to hold hostage until she came in four days later and paid him. His heart went out to her and he told her to get what she needed.. not just lunch meat.. but eggs, milk, cereal,etc. She racked up a 40.00 bill.. was thanking us through her tears and blessing us all over the place. She did come in first thing the morning she said she was and paid her tab. Fine, right? Okay. So a week later, she sends her boys with a note listing all the things she wants to get on credit ( including a pack of gum ) and writes at the bottom of the note that she will be in on Friday to pay for it. It’s been five weeks. Haven’t seen her or her kids since. Ya’think I have a right to be pissed????? I do.

Let me explain this to you..

Most of my customers are on welfare.. meaning something like 85% of my sales are food stamps. Of the remaining 15%, I’d say about 10% uses their debit cards and the remaining 5% pay cash.

I already told you it takes 10 business days to get reimbursed for the food stamps.. it takes four days to get reimbursed for the credit / debt cards.

So when I have to replace everything.. and I have to pay my vendors in cash.. it’s a huge juggling act. I can’t wait to restock my deli case because what’s the sense of having a store if there’s nothing to sell?

Do you see my point?

And so when we had something like 300.00 in tabs.. no cash to restock.. and checks bouncing left and right because there was some kind of bullshit delay with getting our deposits.. we decided to either hang ourselves or stop taking credit. Hanging ourselves wasn’t an option because frankly, I can’t count on the kids to feed the dogs or the fish :: the cats can eat the mice! :: so we started telling people that were weren’t able to extend credit anymore.

Person 1 understood but then came back the following week and tugged on Chief’s heart strings. I tugged on is balls when I found out.

Person 2 understood and when she would come in and get her dollars worth of cheese and whine about how poor she is.. I’d tell her just how poor I was

Person 3 well. we haven’t seen her in five weeks so she doesn’t even KNOW yet.

And then there was Person 4.

Person 4 and her husband started coming to our deli from another town because we have the best products for the most reasonable prices. He wasn’t working and she was getting food stamps and they would used to.. USED to be very selective of what they bought. And then one day, she asked for credit. She wasn’t quick to pay.. it took her maybe three weeks because he had gotten a job and his employer was holding a week so that was understandable. But then it kept happening and finally, last week, I told her that we couldn’t do credit anymore. I explained to her that it was nothing personal. That I had to worry about putting food on my table before I could put food on somebody else’s and our finances and the deli’s finances had gotten to a point where we couldn’t do it anymore.

She understood.. understood.. understood..

Until today.

And today I saw how evil people can really be and how manipulative they are and how they just don’t care about anybody but themselves. And let me tell you.. and I think you’ll agree after you read this.. that as poor as I am.. as hard as it is now to make ends me and as close as we are to losing the store.. I can still put my head down at night knowing that I didn’t do anything wrong.

Person 2 and Person 4 come in at the same time. Person 2 is pregnant so she sits down on the chair I usually use to read in. No problem.. it was a freakin’ hot… sticky.. humid day. Person 4 comes in and starts chit chatting with me while I ring out a customer. When I’m finished I ask her what she needs. She tells me that she can wait and that  I can take care of Person 2. Person 2 declines and says that Person 4 can go ahead. She’s just soaking up the air condition.

And I know what’s about to happen. BOTH of them are going to ask for credit and neither of them wants to do it with the other one in the store.

So I tell Person 4 to give me her order and she does. A pound each of Roast Beef, Imported Ham, Gourmet Turkey, American Cheese and a half pound each of Swiss and Provolone. She gets cole slaw, a loaf of bread, and something like 5 bags of chips totaling 32 dollars and change.

While I’m cutting her order, her husband walks in followed by another customer’s son who’s mentally challenged. For real. This customer called her order in and usually she sends him to the store with either his brother or his sister. This time he came alone and while Person 2 and her husband were parked in the front of the store and Person 4 and her husband were in the middle of the store, the kid is going back and forth putting different stuff on the counter. Chief came in from the back and started helping me so I jumped on register to ring the kid out. Only one problem. He lost the money his mother gave him.

Not his kid has a bad habit of laying his money down on the ice cream freezer or pickle barrel and Chief said he saw him come in with the money in his hand.

All six adults in the store tore it apart and couldn’t come up with this money. While everybody else was looking for the money, I’m ringing out Person 4 and when I gave her the total, she asks me if she can come in Friday :: as in SEVEN days from now :: and pay me.

I was like, you have to be kidding right? You walk in here.. knowing what I told you the last time.. KNOWING that I you don’t have any money so you make me cut everything AND THEN ask me for credit? Do you even KNOW the size of your balls because let me tell you, as big as yours are.. mine are bigger.

And I told her that.

Flat out.

She looked at me like I was crazy and so being that she thought I was.. I decided to really go for it.

I told her, yknow, when SHE needed help I was there to help her. Now that I need to NOT give out credit because it’s going to help me she doesn’t give a shit. I told her that it’s not my fault that she doesn’t know how to manage her money .. I’m not going to leave my table empty to full hers. AND it wouldn’t even be so bad if she was even A LITTLE bit humble about it. Get half a pound a cheese and ham and call it a day.. but now, she was like a fucking goat in a meadow.. and just who the fuck did she think she is? Go to the supermarket and see if you can do that.. go to the convenience store and see if you can do that.. would YOU work for nothing? What if your husband’s boss said he’s going to wait to pay YOU.. would you stand for it.

That’s basically what I told her but I can tell you know that the whole string of words were peppered with words that would make my mother cringe.

Chief couldn’t believe that I would talk that way to a customer because I’m always calling check on him when he says things that are in the grey area between humor and sarcasm but I was pissed and you weren’t going to stop me.

And then I took everything off the counter and told Chief that it looks like WE were having roast beef sandwiches for dinner.

He husband had the balls to say how he thought I was a nice person.. I countered saying that I thought THEY were decent. There was some other word exchanges and then I remembered the mental kid and knew that I had to do something about him because his mother would be worried that he wasn’t home by then.

So I got his bags and I pushed my way threw Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb and told him I was going to walk him home.

And I did.. and I explained to his mother what happened and that we thought he came in with the cash but haven’t found it in the store yet. She asked how much the bill was and I told her and she was like, well, I only gave him 20 so I owe you another 5? And I was like, are you fucking kidding me? I said, “.. um.. noooooo… if I can’t find what he lost then you owe me 25” and she started going off on me about how it wasn’t her fault and I at that point, I knew that if I punched her she was going to do that whole Weeble thing and bounce back up and body slam me so I took a deep breath and stuck a smile on my face and said, “… you do. not. want. to. fuck. with. me. right. now”

She looked at me like I was out of my freakin’ mind and maybe I was but she just turned around and went into the house.

When I got back to the store, Chief was like, “.. I can’t believe you said that to them.” and I told him that I was sick of it. What were we really losing if they never came back? NOT having to lose stock and wait for cash? He was like, “No.. I’m glad you did”.

Figures he’d be all proud and stuff over me going ape shit.

Person 2 and her husband were still there and they did get stuff on credit but it was only a loaf a bread and a half a pound of cheese. I can deal with 4.50. They may have wanted more but after my little performance they may have thought twice.

But here’s the kicker..

When everybody was finally gone, Chief tells me that even though he hates to accuse or judge, he thinks that Person 4’s husband took the kids money. He said it all fits. The other two were in the front of the store and the TweedleDumb’s were in the area where the kid was.. in the spot where the kid always leaves the money.

As angry as I was at them, I told Chief that I really couldn’t believe that they would take the money knowing that the kid wasn’t right in the head and was upset about losing the cash. He said that’s because I don’t steal or take things that don’t belong to me so I don’t think the way those who do that kind of stuff think.

And I said to him, “.. yknow, if you can steal from a retarded kid that you got a lot more problems then I have”

And it’s true.

So .. around 3 this afternoon, this woman comes into the shop to pick up her 5lbs of Roast Beef .. Gravy and 2lbs of Provolone cheese.

Only one problem..

We didn’t have it..

Oh.. we had the order slip.

The order slip that was tacked up where the order slips should be tacked up with PICK UP: 01/22/10 @ 3pm written across the top in RED Sharpie.

Do you know how much red sharpie writing stands out on white paper??

Anyway.. the woman comes in and Chief is like, “.. OMG! Is it 3 already?”

He went on to explain to her that since she was picking it up today but her function wasn’t until tomorrow, he was waiting until the last minute to slice the roast beef and then time had gotten away from him because I had gone to the wholesaler and he got swamped.

All that was true except for the part that he was waiting for the last minute.

He wasn’t WAITING for shit because he thought the order was for tomorrow.

She says she doesn’t mind and said that she can come back right before we close but he was like NO.. NO.. Just give me about 15 minutes. She said that she had some errands to run and would be back in an hour.

I had walked in the middle of this, carrying an arm full of ham, bologna and cheese so I wasn’t really paying too much attention until she leaves and he says, “OH FUCK”.

I ask him what’s up and he tells me…

ME: Um…
CHIEF: What?
ME: Yea.. heh.. um…
CHIEF: You’re scaring me..
ME: Yea.. well.. you don’t have any roast beef.. well, not 5lbs of it anyway

I think he dented the floor when he fainted.

See.. today must have been Secret Roast Beef Hoagie Day ( or Sub .. if that’s what you call it ) .. because I swear to got I must have taken orders for at least 8 large ones and a dozen small ones.

Considering that our larges have a pound ( Yes, POUND) of meat on them and the small ones have half a pound.. that a FUCKING LOT OF ROAST BEEF.

He hadn’t realized it because I was the one doing all the slicing..

The wholesaler’s is about a half hour away .. so driving down there :: at almost rush hour :: running around the warehouse.. getting through the check out lines :: ALWAYS the wild card when it comes to time :: and then driving back wasn’t an option. No time.

So he puts his hands on my shoulders.. bends down to look me in the eye.. and says, “.. you know what you have to do, right?”

I gulp. “Do I have to?”

He nods. “You do.”

“This is going to SUCK”, I moan.

“It’s taking one for the team, babe”

So I start to drive down to the OTHER deli a few miles up the road.

I can’t really say that they’re a competitor because they aren’t really close to us.. and they’re in the part of the county where people still work so they can charge real prices. You know, the prices that generate a profit? They make the dollars.. we make the dimes.

Now.. I have a pretty neat little deli .. you can ask Goober because he’s been by.. it’s just that our store is in an area where most people are on food stamps and there isn’t the traffic that the OTHER place gets.

It just is what it is.

Anyway.. so now I have to go up to the Mecca of Deli’s to get three pounds of Roast Beef and 4 dozen catering kaiser rolls.

I have never been inside the Mecca before and thought that maybe I should stop somewhere and get prayer beads or something .. maybe tie a red string around my wrist .. but I didn’t have the time to do anything cute or quirky.

Anyway.. so I’m driving.. driving.. driving.. and I get to this major intersection and I’m like.. Um.. Hmm.. where the FUCK is this place?

So I call Chief and ask him if the Mecca is before the intersection or after.. he says after.. I thought it was before but ok. He grew up here, he should know. So I’m driving.. driving.. driving.. and I’m almost on the fucking interstate before I was like, “.. nah. I think I past it.”

Who says I don’t have the power of observation??

By this time, it’s almost 20 after 3 and I’m panicking because now I have to drive all the way back in the opposite direction and who knew how crazy busy the Mecca would be on a Friday afternoon.

I finally find it and snort that they need to do something because you can SO see it jumping out at you coming from the opposite direction!!

Anyway.. their parking is on the side of the store.. right off a side street. A side street that’s two ways for like.. a half a block. Wonderful.. backing out of the spot onto a narrow two way street in a station wagon is going to a chore. Hope I don’t run over the crossing guard.

So I walk into the Mecca and the clouds parted and the angels started singing monk chants.

I act all yknow.. whatever.. when I order the Roast Beef but secretly I’m drooling. The had 7 slicers. SEVEN!! That’s like.. well.. it’s kind of like you have to figure each slicer needs to bring in around 200.0o bucks a day to be worth their keep .. they had SEVEN!!!

We have three. Well.. two and a reserve.

So I call Chief… “omg! omg! you have to SEE this place! They have SEVEN slicers!”

I think he choked on his tongue!

Anyway.. so I get my order and it comes to $41.14. Which made me almost choke on MY tongue because the woman is only paying like 36 bucks at our store.. so we took a loss.

And you know that an order will never, ever be forgotten again!!

Anyway.. so I rush to the car  because I’m trying to beat the clock and as I’m backing out of the parking spot onto a narrow two way street during rush hour a car that was waiting at the red light on this narrow little street starts honking his horn at me…

I’M NO WHERE NEAR YOUR CAR ASSHOLE!! And I give him the finger. I would have given him the double flip for scaring the crap out of me with his horn but yknow.. I was driving so I couldn’t.

He starts yelling something at me and pointing at me and if I wasn’t pushing the clock I would have jumped out of the car and kicked his door panel.

NOTE: I have mentioned that I have terrible road rage, right??

So I’m able to maneuver the car onto the street without hitting the pole, the crossing guard or the wack job honking at me and proceed on my way.

Not two car lengths up the street, there were these girls walking and they started yelling, “CHRIS!! CHRIS!!” and were looking over to wear Mr. Honk Or I’ll Die was..

Oh fuck! He must have been honking at the girls to get their attention and they were calling his name.

Damn, I felt bad and now I’m mentally chastising myself for mentally getting all up in Honker’s grill.

Did you ever have an epiphany? One of those moments where the lights of Yankee Stadium go off in your head.. so bright that it burns the back of your eyeballs??

Yea.

Weeeeellllll….

JUSTLIKETHAT it dawned on me that I had left my coffee cup on the roof of my car.. the kid honking and pointing was trying to tell me that.. the girls screaming CHRIS were actually screaming MISS.

I told myself how fucked up I was as I stopped the car :: in the middle of the street.. much to the annoyance of an on coming car :: and got out to grab my coffee.

My wonderfully still hot coffee that didn’t have the lid on tight enough so when I squeezed a little to hard getting back in the car, the styrofoam squished causing the lid popped off and spilled out all over my white shirt and puddled onto my lap.

But I make it back in the nick of time and everything is all together about three minutes before the customer walked back in to pick it up.

The worse part is.. at 6.99 a pound, the Mecca’s roast beef is a dollar more then ours but SO NOT AS GOOD .. and I’m not saying that to be biased. Our brand of roast beef rocks.

So lessoned learned.

The hard way… of course!

… so yesterday Chief and I left the store later then usual.

We’re having an issue with mice and potato chips. Mainly, the mice are eating the potato chips and let me tell you something.. those fuckers are picky!!

Now.. before you get all grossed out and EWWWW-y. Mice in stores is ALOT more common then you think.

In fact, when we first opened, I was all grossed out and EWWWW-y. So I know where you’re coming from but rest assured, Chief does everything he possibly can to keep the little bastards under control.

According to every county official and exterminator I spoke to .. it’s really the only thing we can do. Our area is loaded with field mice.. it’s just the way it is and one of the things that you have to deal if you want to live where we do.

Anyway.. so every night before he leaves the store for the night he’s been putting the three chip racks up high. One on the freezer… one on the candy counter.. and one on the water ice freezer.

And because they like to juuuuuummmppp.. everything had to be moved out into the middle of the store.

The largest rack has to go on the water ice freezer because that’s the only one that can handle the weight. The rack is about 6 feet tall.. the water ice freezer is a little higher then my waist .. and let me tell you … BAGS OF POTATO CHIPS ARE FREAKIN’ HEAVY!! Who would have thought???

Anyway.. it’s really an awkward rack that isn’t optimally designed to lift. There’s really no good place to hold without getting your fingers smooshed or pinched. And because it has to be lifted so high.. you have to grab onto it low and that makes it top heavy.

So we get the rack up on the freezer and I don’t know what the hell happened next but all of a sudden the rack tips over right ontop of me.

Chief’s first thought: LEEEEEEEEEEEEESE
Me first thought: OMG DON’T LET THE CHIPS SMASH!

But I got clocked really good on my cheek bone and in fact, I might wind up with a black eye from it.

Sorry for the left turn there.. so we get home and Bubba is not downstairs so the assumption is is that he’s in his room.

Spaz starts saying how when he came home from school the house was messy from the dogs and Bubba said he wasn’t cleaning it up and went upstairs to his bedroom. So Spaz cleaned it up.

Bubba’s jacket was thrown on the dining room table.. his school pants thrown on the floor OUTSIDE the bathroom and a pair of his jeans on the floor NEXT to the laundry hamper.

I was torqued tighter then I don’t know what.. but I kept my cool.. cleaned the kitchen and made dinner.

All these thoughts were going through head.. things I was going to say to him.. things I was :: or rather wasn’t :: going to continue to do for him.

I had said to Chief, “.. why don’t you go up and check his room”. He did and when he came back down I said, “.. nothing done, huh?”

And he said, “.. nope. He’s sleeping”

So we had dinner.. I cleaned up.. Chief went to watch CHUCK and HEROS.. Spaz was watching something and I was working on my laptop in the living room.

We all went to sleep and around 6am this morning I stirred when Chief woke up and did his morning routine.

I heard him start going up the stairs and then voices and then WHACK WHACK WHACK. I heard Bubba squealing “Dad” “Dad” “Dad” and realized that Chief had upheld his promise from the night before to wake Bubba up with the belt because his room is STILL not clean.

Chief had said the night before that he had been thinking about it and he was going to give Bubba the belt every morning and every night that his room isn’t clean.

He came into the bedroom and said that when he started up the stair, Bubba called out to him that he was already awake. Chief said he knew and continued up the stairs.

Since Bubba had slept since basically coming home from school, I figured he had gotten up in the middle of the night and was downstairs watching tv. I also assumed that since he was already up, he thought that Cheif wouldn’t check on his bedroom.

I know Chief felt horrible. He only used the belt on them once since I’ve been with him when he told them not to touch his really expensive Chef’s knives. He had them on the shelf in our bedroom closet and one day when we had first met he came home and found one on the floor inthe dining room. He swatted their hands twice with the belt and since then Spaz turns white whenever he’s threatened with the belt.

While he was telling me what happened, I could see his eyes were shiny and he was sniffling alittle.

You see, Chief didn’t have the best of childhoods. His father owned his own business and basically half the apartments in that town. They lived in a nice house in a nice town but his father was an abusive alcoholic :: he’s recovered now and is the complete opposite of the way his was :: and his mother was into popping pills a la ‘Valley Of The Dolls’. His mother left the family for another man when he was young which made his father go into more of a downward spirl.

Chief left the house when he was 16 after his father came after him with a chain. He was still in high school and worked two jobs to rent a room but he did it.. and put himself through college to boot.

Deep down, I know that he doesn’t want to be like his father. But I also know that if you are not a hard ass, if you don’t discipline then you get kids that are like his. And now its alot harder to get them to how they’re suppose to be.

After Chief left for the shop and I was leaving for work, I told Bubba that the sneakers I had bought him were the last thing I’m buying for him. If he needs something, ask his father or his mother but don’t ask me. Anything left on this floor or not where it’s suppose to be is getting thrown out and I’m not replacing it. If he wasn’t going to value my house then I’m not valuing his things.

So we’ll see what happens now.