When I’m having trouble working through writer’s block, the most simple post prompts help me. I often think in the moment and forget how much there is to write about in the past. Today I wanted to share about my first job, which was at The Kroger Company. I served in a variety of roles, but the one I enjoyed most was working as a floral clerk.
I initially started working for The Kroger Company as what was called “hired help” when my aunt was in charge of company catering. I helped set up, serve and tear down at events. If you are familiar with Toledo, Ohio, one of the larger events I helped cater was the evening reception at the Crosby Festival of the Arts at the Toledo Botanical Garden.
I then moved into working as hired help in the floral shop of one of the Kroger stores, helping wrap flowers, stock new product and clean the department during its busiest times including Valentine’s Day and Sweetest Day. I enjoyed this type of work as it aligned perfectly with my creative self.
I officially joined the company as a bagger/carry-out at the end of my junior year. I worked that summer bagging groceries, pushing carts (Often 10 at a time… I don’t know how I did that!) and doing whatever cleanup had to be done – including cleaning the restrooms and picking up food spills.
In the fall there was an opening for part-time help in the floral shop and I was hired. I spent just over two years working there. My manager was trained in the floral industry and this was her career, so I learned from someone who really knew what she was doing! I made bud vase arrangements, table centerpieces, corsages and boutonnieres, and even put together holiday wreaths.
I also worked through a remodel in the store which included the building out of an entirely new floral shop. With that we received a cash register, so I added cashiering to my repertoire. When I decided to move permanently for college I was fortunate to be able to transfer my job to a different Kroger store. However, they did not have any openings in floral. Instead I became a cashier and worked for another two years or so. I was able to fill in for the floral department on occasion when they needed extra help.
Cashiering wasn’t my passion but it was an easy job. My busiest shift was the day before Thanksgiving when I ran the express lane. The register counted my customers at about 250 during a 4-hour shift! Cashiering worked well with my college schedule as I became heavily involved with extracurricular activities. I was able to work 8 p.m. to midnight or 1 a.m. My favorite customer was my then boyfriend (now husband) when he would occasionally show up and come through my lane. It was nice to see a familiar face during those long night shifts!
I made the difficult decision to quit my job at Kroger about six-months before I graduated college. My involvement in student activities had become tremendous. By then I was also receiving a stipend for my work with the campus newspaper so financially I had more of a cushion. I resigned, but not without fond memories.
My work in the floral shop impacted my life in other ways. My former floral shop supervisor was the first and only person I asked to make the bouquets for my wedding. I also ordered some lovely Gerbera Daisies through her shop that were used, with bubble bowl vases and glass gems, as centerpieces for our reception tables. Today as I establish my own garden and landscape there are many flowers I seek to grow that will remind me of that first job. Once my tea roses are established I hope to enjoy more fresh-cut arrangements at home too!
Going back to that quote in the high school yearbook: it’s very true. I enjoy my writing career and I believe it’s the right fit for me, but I still entertain the idea of working in the floral industry again someday. I think it would be the perfect part-time retirement job.
What was your first job?