The Canadian years, 31 ..the freezer

Door San-Daniel gepubliceerd op Thursday 11 December 22:40


the freeze cell

After school I hurried to my new employer. The assistant manager, was called Ron and was a lot less friendly than the boss who had taken me on. He felt ‘used', I had passed him by yesterday and had only wanted to talk to the manager. ‘Let's be very clear,’ he, is the boss who decides everything and I'm here as his assistant, to make his life easier. I'm the only one of the boys, who has a solid job from morning to evening. I know everything here and am waiting for my turn to get the say somewhere over a supermarket. That could be this year or within a few years, but I somehow will become the manager. Is there anything in what I say that you cannot follow? ‘ ‘No,’ I said, ‘ I follow you completely.’  ‘Therefore, said Ron, ‘do not forget this, never speak with the manager anymore without my presence. In fact, you never bother him anymore. I decide everything here. I'll show you where the punch clock is, where you put your card in. when you start and where you log yourself out, when you're done.

‘For the rest, you start today with a job where we all started. The freezer.’ He led me through the double flap doors and gave me a card with my name on it. ‘This is the punchclock, if you do not punch in, no money!  What is on the card at the end of the week, determines your pay. Here is a thick coat that fits everyone, whether you are taller or shorter. If you work in the freezer, put it on and you hang it back when you're done. You’ll be never more than 20 minutes in the freezer, otherwise, you get hypothermia. Then look for me and I'll teach you how to fill shelves. If after 20 minutes you are warmed up again, you go back to the freezer. You make sure that you are done at 9 pm at the freezer and then we’ll form a sweep and mop squad and if It is all clean, then we punch out and it is 10 00 o’clock, going home time. Is there anything you do not understand from what I have told you?’ ‘No’, I said, ‘It is absolutely clear.’ I decided to start my own business later or to get a job after studying, that would protect me from these kind of Mickey Mouse figures.


It was cold in the freezer. There was a big clock so that you could keep an eye on the time. It was a very big cold room and even with the thick coat on, you felt the cold through the padding. I shivered, I had never liked the cold. The filling of the shelves was very difficult and required precision, according to Ron, which made me doubt right away his mental faculties. Wherever you went there were empty spaces where clients had taken articles, then it was expected from you, that you walked to those spots and  filled the spaces up again, forming neat rows, you shoved the cans and packs neatly forward so that the shelf face was always pleasant and complete to look at . There was someone who was chief filler, who had been personally trained by Ron and he walked around and took the occasional cart with cans and packets, and then set it ready for you to fill up the positions.

You ran and ran all the time. At half past nine there was a knock on the freezer door, there was Ron. ‘It's rush hour,’ he said,’ come along to the cash register, I will teach you to pack groceries’ There were rows of people with trolleys. You lined yourself up with your Safeway apron on, ready at the end of the collection belt, past the cash register and began packing shoppings into bags. You picked a big folded paper sack of Safeways and hit that out. There was a system to it, Soapy products, like washing powder, liquid detergent in a separate bag. Meat in a separate bag. You had to be careful because if you did something wrong in the rush, there were always grumpy customers, who would take out their daily frustrations on you.. After three carts with groceries it seemed like your whole life you had done nothing else.

If there were old ladies then you had to ask at the end of the packing craze, while placing the bags in the cart, 'If' they needed a hand, ‘you need a hand madam?’ If that person then nodded or grunted or whispered between the ringing of the tills, that she indeed could use some help, then you walked with them, without a coat!... Outside and unloaded the groceries on the slippery parking lot in the boots of their cars. You hurried back to your ‘checkout.’ It was feverish work. The last half hour there was only a stream of shoppings that came passed you. It was a madhouse. What a relief when the doors shut and the broom and mop team was formed.

I was finished and tired. Back at home, my big sister was waiting for me. The little ones were already asleep. My mother was in the living room, embroidering and my dad watched TV. My brother was reading some terrible cowboy book. ‘I saved some food for you’, said my sister. She was a genuine treasure. ‘Wash your hands first,’, she said, ‘you want a mug of tea or a glass of water.’’ Tea please,’ I said, ‘I'm so cold’. I washed my hands and walked in to the living room, I kissed my mother and found that she looked tired. My brother did not look up and my father growled that I was blocking the tv.


My sister came to sit with me at the table, she’d brought a plate of steaming food, I felt suddenly a huge appetite coming up. I folded my hands and muttered Lordie blessie food and drinkie amen and I wanted to attack. ‘That was not very well prayed,’ said my sister, ‘do it again and with little respect.’ I obeyed, my sister who practically raised me.’ Lord, bless this food and drink amen.’ ‘Look,’ she said ‘showing a little respect for the creator is not so difficult. Enjoy your meal’. ‘Thank you,’ I said. It was a warmed up left over, but I found it fit for a king. ‘What's wrong with mom,’ I asked when I had cleared the first bite? ‘Chew your food better,’ said my sister, then the food digests better, what do you mean with what's with Mom?’ ‘I think,’ I said now, slowly munching, ‘that she looks bad’. ‘Do not talk with your mouth full,’  pursued my sister.’ I agree,’ she said. ‘Don’t the rest see it,’ I asked? No, we live all our own lives here. You and I see things but the rest is blind’ I knew she was right.

San Daniel 2014

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Mickey Mouse figures :-))