Remember the small, neighborhood grocery store? The kind where, when you walked in, it was like visiting a friend’s house? Where everyone knew your name and treated you like family? These days, the giant supermarkets have replaced many of the neighborhood grocery stores. They may have more of a selection but something seems to be missing.
As a kid, I lived next door to one of those friendly hometown grocery stores. I’m sure there are probably 5000 laws, or so, against this now, (in 1970, we didn’t have all the dumb laws to make everything illegal) but at age three that store provided me with my first job. Yes, I started working a little young, although it wasn’t exactly a strenuous job, not a child labor camp kind of deal. Twice a week, on freight day, I went to work.
After the truck driver, Tiny, - yes, I still remember his name - delivered the freight, and all the product had been put away, it was my job to take all of the boxes to the shed out back. A pretty easy job for the most part, except that some of the boxes were bigger than I was. Okay, most of the boxes were bigger than I was. But, I managed. I flipped them upside down, over my head and carried them, one at a time. I was later told it was a little comical to see – a cardboard box with two feet sticking out of the bottom, walking itself out of the store and around the building to the shed. The job took no more than a half an hour and for this I was paid 25 cents - 50 cents per week!
When the owners sold the store I thought that’d be the end of my job but then, I was hired by the new owner. (I suspect the previous owners might have had something to do with that). But, as is usually the case with new bosses, the job changed a little. More duties were added. Instead of just piling the boxes in the shed, I had to break them down and stack them in the corner by the door. And, once all the boxes were out of the store, I had to sweep the floor. However, with the added work came a raise! Double my previous wage; 50 cents per day and, my first benefit package – a candy bar and soda pop when the job was finished!
The store is gone now, and the house is gone; replaced by a huge shopping center, with a giant supermarket. They call it progress. Probably no one remembers the little boy who used to carry boxes with only his feet showing. The good news is that in the last forty plus years, I’ve progressed too. And while driving truck isn’t that much more difficult than carrying boxes, I do manage to earn a bit more than a dollar a week!