Monday, May 4, 2009

A Childhood Dream of Food: An Interview with Mary T, Price Chopper Price Accuracy Coordinator

Four white walls surround the table Mary and I sit. Birthdays of the Month, Position Availabilities, Insider Notices all stare at us while we discuss Mary’s influence on Price Chopper. For almost 30 years she has dedicated her life to working with the public under our corporation. Managing different departments, keeping the store in check, and conversing with ‘regulars’; she has made a small difference in everyone’s lives she has touched. A part time job turned into a lifetime of challenging days, the many smiles, the laughter after something difficult was accomplished, and finally the small achievements that have been met. --Sarah Downing

When you started working in the Deli Department when you were a senior in high school. Did you ever think you would come to love this job?
Well, I’m a people person and I enjoy working with people; I love meeting new characters. Working with the public is my type of career path. I could not imagine working anywhere else. I like what I’m doing and it’s different day. Every day is a different challenge when I accomplish a difficult day it’s a motivating and encouraging feeling.

In the Price Chopper world, each store is a different volume, four being the highest and one being the lowest. Because you have worked in numerous stores with all different volume numbers; which one would you prefer to work in? Which environment do you think fits you best?
Westgate is my number one choice, it is a volume 2. I like the clientele better here; it gives a person a rough edge. Our co-workers have tough attitudes being we work on Central Ave. The surroundings are not picture perfect.

This job is about being consistent. Also, how you mold the associates you have to work with you to be the most productive. Being a team gets this job done right. My team works well together; we are always up front about issues.

If someone isn’t cutting it, then you have to put a smile on your face and try to keep up, make up for the work being lost. You just need to smile and try to get the most work done in one day to make the store look presentable. It’s my 100% responsibility. When my crew doesn’t do their job to their fullest potential, then I look bad.

Everyone here at Price Chopper has a different attitude towards work. What’s yours? Remember, ‘job’ and ‘work’ have different meanings.
Work seems like you are going to have to do work and you better hope that you enjoy what you’re doing. Work is about everyday life. You can’t survive without work. Although this job is hard for me sometimes because I had been a manager such a long time; I have always been meticulous in my job. High shrink numbers, for example, bother me.

Why the Departments allow items to go out of code, or become damaged for some reason is something I also don’t quite understand. Why, if an item isn’t moving very fast on certain days, why put out that much? Item movement is important especially in Perishable Departments to keep their shrink numbers down. Putting out a large amount of a certain item that will spoil quickly on a day when the store isn’t busy doesn’t make sense.

Working is how you’re doing your job and my job is my title. My job is my work and what is my work relating to? My job title is Price Accuracy Coordinator; my work consists of everything: monitoring all the departments, physically price changing the stock on the shelves, dealing with discontinued items. And the list goes on.

A childhood obsession of food became a career for you. Did you take after your parents in your career path?
My father was a cook, my mother was a nurse. As a child I always dreamed of being a school teacher or on occasion of being a nurse. Although I loved to cook in my free time, I was one of eight children and my father always was cooking around us. That’s most likely why I liked being a Food Service Manager.

Besides dedicating your life to the public world in Westgate Price Chopper, you also worked another job for only six months. Why?
Well…before I started working for Price Chopper, I worked for the New York State Liquor Authority. It was an interesting job, but I hated it. Completely opposite from the job I have now.

I was in an office with no windows. I sat at a computer and typed these outrageous files of the applicant’s entire history and then filed them. I did the same thing every day; repetition gained new meaning to me while I had that job. Here at Price Chopper, every day has a new mission, a new task to handle, new items to deal with, and people to converse and smile with.