More grocery tales-what some all night grocery crews do while you sleep- besides stock shelves

Like everything in life...sometimes you come across a rotten apple.

Most high volume grocery stores have to stock their shelves while most of us are sleeping. In my twenty plus year grocery career, most of my grocery crews were hard working, honest, and good people. There were however a few bad apples during those years. This hub is going to talk about some of the more interesting things that I had the pleasure to witness.

Who would think that a phone would be an accomplice to a crime?

The case of the outrageous phone bill.

Place: Chesapeake, Virginia. Time frame: 1992.

One of my main jobs as the assistant manager, was to examine and analysis the monthly SOS(store operating statement). While doing this I noticed that our phone bill which normally ran about 175 dollars, was actually 813 dollars for one month. After requesting a copy of the bill, I noticed two things....(1) someone was calling 1-900 sex lines in the middle of the night and (2) the calls were coming from the always locked district manager's office which was located in the backroom of my store. After explaining to my manager and district manager what I had found, we called our loss prevention department. Loss prevention came to the store and installed two hidden cameras. One was inside the district manager's office while the other was just outside his office.

We had five suspects as our night crew consisted of four night stockers and one baker. Amazingly the loss prevention cameras discovered our criminal the very first night. The newest member of the night crew was a kid who had worked part-time as a bagger on the front-end before graduating to the night crew when he turned 18 a couple months earlier. I never saw the images that the cameras recorded(thank goodness) but evidently they showed the kid picking the lock to the district manager's office and using the phone for more than a phone conversation. Needless to say the next night the grocery crew was down to three night stockers.

One example of a grocery backroom.

The case of the backroom miracle.

Place: Central Virginia Time Frame: 1996.

In 1995, I switched companies and had to work my way back up the store management ladder again. I got assigned to a store in Central Virginia, as a co-manager of the store. It did not take me long to realize that the store manager and the grocery manager pretty much hated each other and that the grocery manager's job was in serious jeopardy. One night the manager had a quick meeting between the three of us. He pretty much told the grocery manager if all the backstock(extra stock in the backroom versus being on the sales floor) was not gone in the morning then the grocery manager could kiss his job goodbye. As I went home that night, I thought there was no way the grocery manager was going to keep his job. As the schedule would have it, I was the opening manager the next morning.

Much to my surprise a miracle had occurred during the night. The sales floor looked awesome and the back room was unbelievable, the product level had gone down drastically, it was practically an empty backroom. When the store manager arrived later that day, he was equally impressed about the backroom. He told me...."I think I have finally gotten through to him, he is finally doing things my way". Over the next month everything went pretty smoothly in the store. About a week before one of our bi-annual grocery inventories, the grocery manager quit and went to work with another company. The results of the inventory were brutal, the store had lost over $100,000 dollars in inventory in a six month cycle. Needless to say the company was not happy about the loss. After a loss prevention investigation turned up very little as to how we lost so much product, they made us do another grocery inventory. The results were the same as the first one....a $100,000 dollar loss of inventory.

About three months later we would finally figure out the miracle of the backroom. That summer it rained very little. The retention pond beside the store began to get low. As the very dry summer continued, someone noticed something unusual about the retention pond. As I walked towards the retention pond I could not believe my eyes....there sticking out the water were cases and cases of grocery product....the grocery manager had emptied the backroom that night almost five months ago, by putting all the backstock in the retention pool. If I learned one thing about this experience it would be...... when you paint someone in a corner you never know what they will do to survive.

What a great place to hide something....a retention pond.

Your standard paper grocery bag.

The Case of The Guy Who Told on Himself.

Place: Western North Carolina Time Frame: 2001.

I took over a store in Western North Carolina in March of 2001. I had not been in the store for more than 3 weeks when I had an interesting conversation with a grocery stocker. I will call him Forrest which should explain a little bit about him. I came to work at 6:30 in the morning, purchased my Diet Mountain Dew(I don't drink or smoke but I do Dew) and starting walking the store to see how things were looking. Forrest came up to me saying...."Cogerson Cogerson.....we have a problem....that new stocker...he is not following the rules." I asked which rules was he not following? He said "You know.... the rules where we can fill up a paper bag up with anything we want as long as it fits in one paper bag and you take it out of the store before the sun comes up....but that new stocker....he is taking two bags or more....he is being a pig.....he is going to get us into trouble." I was trying to understand what he was saying.....I was like....so you can get anything for free as long as it fits in one paper bag?.....Forrest said...."Yeah just like it has always been....but the new guy....he won't listen..... he has been filling up a whole cart and taking it to his car".

I told Forrest I would look into his concerns. My first phone call was to loss prevention. That night loss prevention arrived at the store and talked to my grocery crew. They all admitted that they had been taking one bag a night for as long as they could remember. The grocery manager's logic was if they each only took one bag a night the losses would never amount to a great loss and nobody would ever know what was happening. The next day, I had to start hiring an entire new stock crew, including Forrest's replacement. About a week later, I talked to Forrest and he still did not really understand why he could not continue to work at the store, he said..."If only that new guy would have followed the rules we would not have gotten into trouble".

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Comments 54 comments

Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 5 years ago from Baltimore, MD

If I work in retail again, I am going to ask the manager if it is possible to get free stuff as long as it all fits in one paper bag. Hahaha! That is a great story. There are some real characters working at stores. Some people have a lot of nerve - who calls sex lines at work? Great hub and voted up!


brianlokker profile image

brianlokker 5 years ago from Washington DC metro area

Wasn't there a TV show called "The Night Stocker"? :) Great tales! Keep 'em coming!


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England

"yeah so we've been taking a bag of groceries out of here every night before the sun rises, thats normal isn't it?", "um okay er... YOU'RE FIRED!!"

Adventures in the Grocery Trade. Good stuff Cogerson.

Voted up and funny.


Mentalist acer profile image

Mentalist acer 5 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

Loss prevention earned their money,good job Cogerson!;)


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

#1-Can't believe that kid really thought he would get away with his trysts!!! lol

#2 Never seen that coming for the grocery manager! WOW he really cleared out the backstock! hahahaha!

#3 awwwwww Forrest!!!!! He should have kept his job!!!

GREAT HUB!!! Up/Awesome!!!


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Hey Jeannieinabottle.....I never understood why my company did not want to make it company policy to continue some of these new perks ....they could have been used as great recruitment tools....lol.....thanks for reading the hub


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Hey brianlooker....if only we could have some supernatural stuff going on then Night Stocker would be even more appropriate ...thanks for the compliment


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks for the compliment Steve....it was sad but poor Forrest was taken advantage of his managers...and had no clue he was doing such bad things....I remember telling the grocery manager he should be ashamed of pulling Forrest into this mess....at the time the grocery manager was pretty pissed off that Forrest had spilled the beans...thanks for stopping by


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Hey mentalist acer....loss prevention really earns their money in the grocery business....their tools have greatly improved over the years....when I first started in the grocery business they had to drill holes in the ceiling tile which always left a trail for those who were looking for things like cameras....nowadays they can put them on sprinkler covers and you do not even notice them....thanks for reading my hub


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Hey sunshine....well story #1 ....he was only a kid and I am sure the hormones were a talking....lol...

story #2.....when I think about that night he did the deed....I really blame the manager for making ditching the product a real option.....many better ways to reach your goals...threats only work for so long

story #3 .....Forrest was a good guy.....just he was in a bad grocery crew....loss prevention had no other option other than to let him go as well....as always thanks for reading


BERN1960 5 years ago

Well, that was certainly an eye opener regarding grocery store business. When one goes into the grocery store you just pick up the items you need (AND PAY FOR THEM)and go on your merry way - one does not think about the job of putting them on the shelf for customers to find. YOU ARE RIGHT ABOUT HOW EASY IT IS THESE DAYS TO CATCH SOMEONE ON CAMERA...GREAT STORIES COGERSON - KEEP THEM COMING...I VOTED UP OF COURSE...


Jeanastra 5 years ago

I saw that one coming with the grocery manager, but I figured he stole the stuff. I hope the kid calling the sex lines was forced to pay the bill. I'm still blown away by the manager who encouraged theft - controlled or not, it's soooooooo WRONG. VOTED UP. Love these stories!! :-)


BERN1960 5 years ago

Hey, I have thinking about your grocery stories above - several years ago there was an article about employees stealing from employers. There was one where an employee was opening the back door and giving friends clothes from the store - NOT PAYING FOR THEM OF COURSE. I thought about that when I was off line and wanted to make this comment. EVERYONE HAVE A GOOD DAY...


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks for the comments BERN1960....I am glad you like my grocery story tales...I think everybody can pretty much assume that a camera can be anywhere via a hidden camera or a cell phone...if you do something....somebody will get a video of it.

Part2...thanks for sharing your story of they employee that opened the back doors and gave away the product.....over the years stuff liked that happened...and now pretty much every exit door has a camera....to help stop like this from happening again....thanks for stopping by


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Hey jeanastra.....let's see....1. the kid with the phone signed a confession and agreed to pay back the money in exchange for us not to take him to court....the next day he showed up with a check from his mom to pay his bill

2. as for the grocery manager who threw the product in the water....he pretty much got away with it....kinda like OJ we are know he did it but in our case we did not have enough proof to prosecute him.....although my company wanted to....they could not even get him to come talk to us

3. The controlled theft grocery manager.....felt that everybody was underpaid(who is not?) so by allowing everyone free groceries it was righting a wrong....it least in his mind.........thanks for reading my hub


YankeesRule profile image

YankeesRule 5 years ago

Funny stuff, it sounds like the grocery business was filled with lots of criminals. Voted up and funny.


AlabamaGirl86 profile image

AlabamaGirl86 5 years ago

Funny but sad stuff, I really loved the Forrest story, I have known lots of people that just do not get it. Voted up and funny. Keep up the good work.


hinton1966 profile image

hinton1966 5 years ago

Great stories, I like your grocery stories just as much as I like your movie hubs. Keep up the great work.


THAT Mary Ann 5 years ago

Great insights into the human condition. Rated up!


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Hey YankeesRule.....it was amazing the amount of theft by shoplifters and associates.....but like I said at the beginning of the hub....most of the people I dealt with were pretty good people...thanks for the comment


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Hey AlabamaGirl.....Forrest was a nice guy.....although I only knew for about a month of my life.....I think of him pretty often....thanks for reading


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

hey hinton1966.....thanks for the compliment....I do not have as many funny grocery stories as I do actors to write hubs about....but I am glad you like both of my hub types


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Hey THAT Mary Ann.....thanks for reading and commenting on my hub


KellyE1967 profile image

KellyE1967 5 years ago

Funny hub, you make the grocery business seem a very exciting place, thanks for sharing these awesome stories. voted up and funny


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks for the compliment KellyE1967, I can tell you that the grocery business has some exciting stories but generally in is your number business of trying to achieve your numbers....and dishonest people do not help you with that goal...thanks for stopping by


attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 5 years ago from Australia

Hi Cogerson i enjoyed reading about your employees exploits. Dumping all that stock into the pond, with great relish, was a classic problem solver. Temptation is never far away either, with the one bag theory. Cheers mate.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks for stopping by....I am sure in at 3:30 in the morning these people were like...heck nobody is paying attention....let's do something I know is wrong...but I won't get caught....thanks for the comments.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Delightful Hub, and a look into what goes on at the local supermarket!


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks for the compliment Will Starr....and thanks for reading and commenting on my grocery store tale.


KTCat94 5 years ago

Awww, Poor Forrest! I think he should've gotten to keep his job! I'd never heard the other two stories before!


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks KTCAT94, I am glad I have not told you all my stories from my past.....yes Forrest is getting lots of support. Thanks for commenting.


Fay Paxton 5 years ago

Cogerson these stories are so funny to me. One never thinks about the things that go on behind the scenes. I never quite understood the fascination with phone sex, but I guess.

The second guy just followed instructions. :) and Forrest was a gump.

up/funny and awesome


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks for stopping by Fay. I am glad you like these grocery tales. My mom,who is a fellow hubber, is always calling me and saying write a hub about... "that guy that told on himself" ....half the suggestions she brings up about things I told her over the years, I have a hard time remembering the story. But she already gave me a memory for my next grocery store hub. Enjoy the rest of your Memorial Day weekend.


travel_man1971 profile image

travel_man1971 5 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

I never worked at a grocery store when I was a teenager, then, but my cousins, did. They have the same tales, like yours; although that phone calls malady never occurred to them.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks for reading my grocery hub....I am sure your cousins have lots of crazy stories as well....it would be interesting to compare the stories...thanks for stopping by...


toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago

Loved the hub. I could keep reading these stories all day. Thanks for sharing the antics you endured. It is very entertaining. So who is your Mom?


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks for the compliment toknowinfo I am glad they are entertaining.....all the stories of labor crunching just are not very funny.....my mom is BERN1960....she does not write hubs(although I suggest she should....she has a great story about dating William Shatner in Montreal Canada in the 1950s)...but she reads everything I write and usually comments....even though she can not figure out to sign in....thanks for stopping by and commenting.


AngelaKaelin profile image

AngelaKaelin 5 years ago from New York

I am not surprised by any of this. In fact, I was expecting worse things to be going on! It reminds me of one of my favorite movies (I know this isn't a movie hub, but...) "Employee of the Month" - if you haven't seen it, you might like it. It's about a Sam's Club kind of store where they take being employee of the month very seriously. It's turns out the golden boy on staff isn't so golden! And, of course it features Efren Ramirez as the Jorge the box boy. Oh... and Jessica Simpson is in it.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Hey Angela....well this was just a few things I saw during my time in the grocery business.....there were other incidents....like the crew that cook and ate all the lobsters one night......another time a guy got out of the store while he was supposed to be working, got arrested for being with a hooker at the sleazy motel located next door..the grocery manager did not even know he was missing until the guy called him from jail and was looking to get bailed out.....I have seen Employee of the Month....it has some pretty interesting scenes in it....and yes sometimes that golden boy turns out to be very dirty and dishonest...thanks for reading my hub.


MarvelMAn 5 years ago

Funny stuff, I worked overnights before, and the crazys do indeed come out.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Thank you MarvelMan....I am glad you liked my stories...thanks for reading.


Bryan Rogers 5 years ago

So why are you always calling loss prevention? You dirty rat, haha, just kidding. Very funny, always have interesting stories. What about the one during Isabell with the dry ice and cart home that blew away. Oh and those kids who smoked pot but wouldn't take a pee test so they quit then came back to work to get their job back.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Hey Bryan.....well that is what the Loss Prevention job is for....to catch the real dirty rats that were stealing.....I am indeed thinking about writing about Hurrican Isabel of 2003.....making it hub like the movie 127 hours.....thanks for the suggestions.


adjkp25 profile image

adjkp25 4 years ago from Northern California

I work backstage for one of the large national grocery chains and your stories are dead on. I have been in the stores at odd hours and witnessed many things that I would not want to discuss.

Our loss prevention folks and health safety teams really have their work cut out for them. People are always trying to steal something as well as find ways to sue the company, even if they set the whole thing up. We actually have many cameras installed into the stores just to protect ourselves against frivolous lawsuits. You would be amazed at how many times people spill fluids on the floor just so they can slip on it and file a lawsuit.

Great hub.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Coge...THIS is the best funny story I've heard all month! Sounds like you could be the life of the party, just telling your stories about the Night Crew!

It's amazing how some of these kids actually believe they'll get away with the nonsense forever. They gotta know that eventually their job is history!

And "Forest," remember what your mama said, "Stupid is as stupid does!".........AWESOME hub, Coge!!


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Hey adjkp25...thanks for checking out my night crew grocery tales....I actually read the hub for the first time in many many months....I can only imagine some of the things you saw during time in grocery. Slip and falls are big business for con-artists all over the country...thanks for the comment and the kudos.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Hey fpherj48...glad you enjoyed some of my grocery tales....I saw lots of memorable things during my grocery career. I won't even go into the stories that involved 3 dead bodies in a 4 month span at the shopping center I worked at. Reading this hub, I am thinking it might be time for another addition of Grocery Store Tales. Thanks for such a nice compliment, it is greatly appreciated.


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 4 years ago from United Kingdom

What great stories - it's surprising what goes on behind the scenes!

Voting up and VERY funny!


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 years ago from Nashville Tn.

I really got a kick out of this. Who'd a thought? Guess I'm a simple and naïve girl :-) Great stories and had to vote up and more. Sharing this.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Hey Movie Master....I am glad you liked my grocery tales...in my mind they get funnier as they age...thanks for the votes and the compliment.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Hey vocalcoach....thanks for the share, the visit and the compliment. Sadly many many grocery crews do things like this and worse....I imagine at 4:00 in the morning the grocery crews think...who is going to see?....how about the cameras? Thanks for the votes.


mfriedstore profile image

mfriedstore 4 years ago from 176 Flushing Avenue Brooklyn , New York

You have an interesting topic. I enjoyed reading your hub. Shelving is primarily important whether in business or at home to keep and organize things.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks for stopping by mfriedstore.


Sanxuary 22 months ago

There is a lot to ponder on freight. Why do they turn the heat off, half the lights off but leave the crappy music blaring? Why can I make a citizen arrest anywhere in America but can not do so at my own job? You know that you our a good driver when you put a 20 foot item up on a 8 foot aisle with a 8 foot piece of machinery, what were they thinking when they built the place? Freight is not an easy job and is often considered to be poor paying, yet it keeps the whole place going and most of the people do 20 times more work then the people who sell it to you each day.

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