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May 9, 2007 / Maleesha Kovnesky


When I was in high school I worked for a grocery store called Buttrey’s.  Buttrey’s isn’t around anymore.  I’m pretty sure that is because they chose to have “butt” in the name.  Names can be important to your image. 

Anyway, working at Buttrey’s required me to join the union.  I was seventeen.  I didn’t know much about unions at that time, apart from the things that adults either continuously lamented or continuously praised about them.  I also had faint memories of my mother occasionally being involved in a picket line for the restaurant worker’s union.  Union, shmunion.  I was just pleased to supplement my waitressing tips with grocery store wages.  And everyone talked about how great the grocery store benefits were after a while.

I should have keyed in to the “after a while” part.  Since it was a union job, priority for scheduling went to those who had been in the union for quite some time.  If you were new to the union (lots of us were, we had been hired to work in the Buttrey’s brand new second location) then you didn’t get many hours.  For the first couple of months I worked anywhere from a whopping 8 to 10 hours every two weeks. 

I didn’t care, really, because I had another job waiting tables at the Hanging Five restaurant.  But some of my newly-hired counterparts were disgusted, since this was their only job.  Yikes.

Double yikes when the paycheck rolled around.  The union took it upon itself to deduct union dues right out of the paycheck.  This was a big deal if you only worked 8 hours for that time period.  I’ll never forget my anger when I received a paycheck for negative dollars.  That’s right, the union dues for the month were more than I made in 8 hours.  Double yikes, indeed. 

I didn’t stay at Buttrey’s very long.  Besides being an incredibly sucky job, I had a really crass and vulgar manager named Tom.  Tom said very dirty things to everyone and often made disgusting suggestions involving peanut butter.  I hated Tom and I’m pretty sure he could be in jail now.  Aside from Tom and the negative paychecks, there was another reason I hated working at Buttrey’s.

After I was in the union for a couple of months, I started getting assigned double shifts on weekends (16 hours).  That was not the sucky part.  The sucky part was that the grocery store Muzak tape recycled itself every 2.5 hours.  That means during a double shift, I would have to hear such doozies as You’re So Vain, Rocky Mountain High, and Dancing Queen six or seven times a day, which is way too often for any of those tunes.  No self respecting teenager of the nineties should have had to go home with You’re So Vain stuck in their head. 

I was thrilled the day I walked into Buttrey’s and quit.  I didn’t give two weeks notice, because that isn’t a law and I was about to leave the state never to return, so I wasn’t worried about bad references.  I worked my butt off at Buttrey’s.  And for what?  Gross peanut butter jokes, knowledge of all the words to crappy 70’s songs and less money than I had before I started.  I’m glad they went out of business.  So there. 



Leave a Comment
  1. cherikooka / May 10 2007 5:16 am

    You’re not butter, I mean bitter.

  2. Ian / May 9 2007 3:28 am

    *flashing back to 4 years at King Soopers*

    Easy, Ian. Put down the peanut butter.


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