I am now in the fourth week of my job experiment, and I would be lying if I said it was a cakewalk. What really is happening is that I am learning to adjust my life to some new constraints in search of a better organized lifestyle. That goal implies that I have to subject myself to some new demands in order to become a more effective and productive person. Being a grocery clerk puts me out in the ‘public square’ where I can serve people, listen to their stories, and acquire a knack for doing things that were heretofore unknown to me. In the first instance, I am acquiring a memory for price codes. Then there is the opportunity to understand how to operate a computer under pressure. The last four days after X-mas have been bedlam, what with people going back to work or returning to university. Things got so hectic that my till and another one crashed for ten minutes, during which four shoppers got free groceries. This grocery retailer is so dedicated to getting market share that it will stop at nothing to make the customer feel like king. Yesterday I saw a number of different employee reactions to the mounting pressure: calm, angst, frustration, amazement, and determination. As the newby, I amazingly fell in to the first category. Since this job is only a hobby that is helping me get out and re-establish my appreciation for humanity – the $300 a week is essentially pocket money – I don’t really worry about my working future. While I am working with some very fine and helpful co-workers, my desire is to meet people as they come through the checkout and discover what makes them tick. In the process, I am learning very quickly one becomes connected in a big city after only five years. There is another possibility that seems to be emerging slowly. A local eldercare agency seems to want to hire me up to twenty hours a week to be a companion for people looking for more independence. This is what I wanted right from the start but because it wasn’t readily available a month go, I opted for Plan B. However, being the cautious type I am not prepared to drop this present job until I build up the hours in the second one. So, for a couple of months I will be holding down two jobs, something I never dreamt was possible, given the fact that I have zero financial needs. In my next installment I will describe some of the personalities that I meet on the line that buy their groceries on a weekly basis.