Earlier today I was sitting at my art desk, pondering how to correctly make a polymer clay cherry blossom cane, and thinking how nice it was not to listen to fighting kids or wondering what trouble they were causing that it was so quiet. They older two are at school and daycare, and Baby was sleeping. Kittens were sleeping. Shadow Cat was napping downstairs. So rather than be productive, I spaced out. Somehow I ended up thinking about where I was 7 1/2 years ago, right before my whole life made a drastic change to include my oldest child. The memory in question was about dirty potatoes. Settle in, this story is a good one.
At the time, I was working about the biggest corporate retailer in America. You know the one; lowest prices, a happy face that wears a "Zorro" mask and slashes prices, they employ more people than anyone else in the country except the military? You know, the one that sounds like "ShmallShmart". Yeah, that store that everyone hates but goes to anyway.
Why I was working there isn't really important, but I can sum it up pretty quickly: I was in a junky little town in Wyoming and that's what there was besides seedy bars, motel service, or a call center. I ended up working at the call center later, but that's for another time.
So anyway. I started out as a cashier at said store, and worked there for a few months. I was good at what I did, averaging a scanning rate of 800 items per hour. Seriously. I was on my way to one of those goofy maroon vests that the uber-cashiers got. But before I got that vest, I got "promoted" to produce associate. Which means I showed up to work at 4:00 in the morning and pulled ten foot high pallets of produce out of the delivery truck. Then I cut and wrapped fruit and helped people figure out how to tell if stuff was ripe.
One day, I didn't have much to do, so I decided I was going to clean the potato racks. I talked to my boss about it and he was completely astounded that anyone would have that idea, so I got the clear impression that it hadn't been done in the entire time the store had been around (about six years, at that time). I loaded all the various kinds of potatoes into shopping carts and placed the prices and descriptions on them so that people could still get their potatoes. I didn't have to do so, because who buys potatoes at 8:00 in the morning anyway, but I did. Along the way, I found some horrific bags of potatoes that had turned to mush in the time they'd been on the racks. I still have a distinct memory of my thumb slipping into a mushy potato as I picked up the bag. *shudder*
Then I went to the produce backroom and got out an ancient-looking ShopVac that I'd never seen in use. I wheeled it out and hunted for an electrical outlet, finding none, then I found an extension cord and plugged it in back in the storeroom and snaked the cord out through the produce doors and over to the potato racks. I plugged it in, and joyfully not being electrocuted, proceeded to vacuum the HECK out of those gross potato racks. They dirt and potato skins and grime was about half an inch thick. About five minutes in, another girl from produce came running over to me yelling "STOP! STOP! IT'S A DISASTER!!!!" and the look on her face was more than enough to get my attention.
I turned off the vacuum and asked her what was wrong. She pointed toward the bakery tables about eight feet away. The ShopVac had been sucking all the potato dirt in and blowing it out the back, all over everything in the bakery! Um... WHY IS THIS SHOPVAC EVEN BACK THERE IF IT DOES THAT?!?!?!
While she went to get the assistant manager of the store, I took the ShopVac back into the back room and dumped what little remained inside into the trash before going back out to help the bakery workers clean off the tables that were covered in dirt. Eventually, the assistant manager and the other produce person came back, looked at the ShopVac, and went to get a new one.
I did the get the potato racks vacuumed, scrubbed and reloaded that day, after about four hours of constant work, and I was delighted with the visible improvement in the area. The bakery threw away everything that was covered in dirt. Then, literally the next week, I discovered the joys of decomposing, leaking tomatoes. But that's a story for another day.