When people see a supermarket the first and only thing they really think about is the people who work on the checkouts and that is usually their only impression of the work that gets done there. There is so much involved within the supermarket with the staff members who work in the different departments and supermarkets are usually the one place people can usually work in different areas from Fresh Produce to the Nightfill in grocery. Most of the work is in full view of the customers and not all come across as very nice and you do have to deal with conflict when it arises especially in regards to products. Some people do vent their anger at the front of the store at the checkouts so you would have to deal with uncooperative people who just want to lash out as they may not have had a good day. The troublemakers are usually known by sight and people do keep an eye out for them.
I have worked in several different departments with the time I have spent working for one though I have not worked on the checkouts. I have worked in the meat department doing mince with the mincer and packing the snags. Also cleaning the department is loads of fun and I had done that for several years. I did a day in the Fresh Produce department where I filled the fruit and vege. The main departments I have worked in are the dairy or cold section and within grocery where I have worked until midnight as part of my shift. I have actually been in the store since it opened and I did help with the old store where we packed all the stock off the shelves and send them to other stores. The hours can be all over the place and you just have to adapt as one day you could be starting at 8am and the next 8pm at night. Shifts range from 4 hours to a full 8 hours.
I began as a casual person with hours that were just given to me and could range from anything from 3 hours to 30 a week. I was offered part time where I was not sure if I should and then began there with 16 hours a week. A while back with a new manager I was given 24 hours part time, which was always open to extra shifts on the casual rate afterwards. More recently I had been offered 32 hours a week and I took the offer as then I would be close to the limit in the casual hours. When I did ask I was offered full time if I wanted it and while I declined the offer due to other priorities, I was told the offer was there. There are offers for people throughout the business like discounts on certain things, salary sacrifice for Christmas food, salary sacrifice for shares in the company though that may not happen everywhere. There are other perks to working in a retail environment especially if you want to move up to a management role and you would be supported in doing so. That would mean longer hours and more work including paperwork.
This is actually a huge deal for myself as I have worked hard to achieve where I am today. I do think I have proved to many people you can do the work if you want to especially if you are considered to be different, but I rather be seen as one of the staff even if I am quirky and have a mouth that throws things out at times though mostly to other staff especially when we all tend to get along. In a way it is like a big family and some people will talk to you and be nice, while there are others that do ignore you. Everyone knows who the workers are and who the ones who don’t work so they will be placed in areas where people can keep an eye on them or make them get the job done. They could be transferred to other departments to see where they fit in.
Working in a supermarket is not for everyone and that does include the normal people and I can lump people on the spectrum with the normal people as some people do work and others just don’t. It is actually that simple. The work is usually full on and you will be literally running as you have to get the work done in a certain time frame like a box count per minute. There is no leaving the rest of the work for the next day as you would end up being swamped by work then and sometimes the better workers are actually propping up the slow workers. There would be smells and tastes of all sorts including from other people that may cause sensory problems especially in places like the laundry aisle that has smelly products or the fridges are noisy with the constant noise along with the children who scream as the come past you so you may feel like blocking your ears. One child screaming would not be the only one as there could be a dozen that do that throughout the day and some play with the pet squeeze toys. The lights can be bright enough to disturb you enough to get headaches and then there is the music along with the intercom going on top of all that other noise. Over holidays like Easter, Christmas and other public holidays the shop would be full of people and you have to be able to keep up the work along with being in the presence of so many bodies. People do shop when they are sick and do leave rubbish lying around in many places. Some do like the reassurance touching especially the elderly and if someone is talking to you then you cannot exactly ignore them no matter what your opinion is of them. You will get rude people, very polite people and some you cannot escape from that really do want to spend the next 20 mins talking to you every time they enter the store about their footy (Rugby League) career or what happened in their life.
I should say as a rule of thumb do not say people on the spectrum cannot work in a supermarket. I know everyone has different issues and if you cant work there then that is alright and so long as you can try then its alright. You have to know if you can work or not as people have to understand that a supermarket is a place of business and if you have problems then you cant really take breaks or do the other stuff that many advocates seem to tell you or else you may not have the job the next day or they may no longer call you in if you keep refusing to work. It is a balance and if you are ready to leap in then you need to know what you are in for. I am enjoying my time working there and find it to be a good place to get the experience to move on in the future and to learn about people in general though you can observe people as you work to see what interests you like tattoos or what they are wearing as everyone is different. Everyone has to eat sometime and people tend to head to a supermarket of some sort to get food so the job you have might be safer than many others as I had seen during the GFC (Global Financial Crisis). Normal retailers do change their staff and you can be transferred to other locations if you choose too. There is no shame in saying you cannot work in one even if you do try. The managers are usually approachable and you can ask the staff members what it is like to work for the company and as they are the frontline people they may give honest answers especially if they think you might not be able to handle the work like lifting heavy things like boxes or milk crates.