It was a 16 hour flight that I Was dreading, tired, hungry, physically exhausted. I Knew my vacation was over. Two weeks of vacation and three different south american countries; Peru, Uruguay, and Argentina. I Had plenty of reasons to look forward to this vacation though; legal drinking age, seeing my cousin on her 22nd birthday, and no work! At that time I Was just bagging groceries at Stater Bros. Easiest job in the world, right? Well on my last day of work before my trip my store manager called me to the office and told me I’ll be starting in the meat dept. When I Get back. But it’s a promotion. So it’s a good thing right? Yeah… but it’s a whole new job description which is a whole lot of training. So I Left that news at the Buenos Aires airport after I Landed and enjoyed myself. But two weeks later it was there at the same airport waiting for me to get back.
I Got back to work with a change in uniform and department. Rather than being able to run around a grocery store inside and out I Was limited to one department. Meat. my meat manager give me the rules of thumbs and id say with in months I Was able to identify a piece of meat and determine its cut and where it comes from. I was able to memorize codes and remember what number for what cut and meat.
I Remember it was valentine’s day and the morning and afternoon were practically dead. So the meat cutters went home earl. But that would soon all change when everyone started to get off work. Customer after customer, steak after steak we were busier than a one legged man in an ass kicking contest. Eventually, with only two meat clerks and no cutters left, we ran out of the most popular steak, ribeye.
I’ve seen it cut for months and months, watching how they do it, so me and the other meat clerk ray decided just to try to cut. We cut the ribs as they were selling, with a line of customers across the department all wanting the same thing. It lasted about an hour and we cut about 5 ribs, around 20 Lbs each. We had a few left over by the end of the night and put them in the case for sale.
In the morning when I Went in, my meat manager had already heard about the busy night we had, Asked how we did, he turned to me and said “those were the ugliest ribeyes I Have ever seen”, then turned away and started busting up laughing. I was as offended as a would be now, because those were my first cuts. In the following months I Didn’t really do any cutting, more just wrapping meat and helping customers, but I Did keep watch when they would cut meat, on what to do and what not to do. Three months after the whole valentines day incident, Ended up being transferred to a Fontana store off sierra and foothill, Walked in the store and noticed, it was the smallest store I Had ever worked at. My first day I Was introduced to the meat manager and he explained how he goes about running the department and introduced me to the other clerks. It was a nice normal introduction, until one of the meat clerks named anali said “wait until he meets Bob !”. They all stood around and started laughing, agreeing and sharing stories on how the ‘Bob ’ person is. “Just wait Charles he’ll be back in a week from vacation”, my meat manager Armando told me. So I Worked my few days as usual, but I Did notice that this store is not as strict, they don’t exactly follow ‘policy’ but I Didn’t care. I Went with the flow.
My first friday at my new store I got a phone call from my old meat manager, asking me how I Was doing, we talked and shared a few laughs and then I Thought to ask about Bob . “Don’t worry about Bob . He’s harmless” said my old meat manager as we wrapped up the conversation.”
The next monday I Walked into the meat department and seen a new face. Well it wasn’t really a new face, as a matter of fact it was a 64-year-old face, towering above my five foot two-inch self. “hello , Charles is it? Well hows about we go in the back and have ourselves a little meeting.” he walked me to where we washed the dishes and keep our supplies. He went on to lean against the sink and talk to me. “Well hello im Bob ! Robert john Joseph by God Cridlin! Now a little bit about me, I’ve been with the company since I Got out of Vietnam and I’m planning on leaving soon… one more thing you ought to know about me is I Wasn’t scared of jack brown! I Ain’t scared of nobody! I’m an Irish Catholic, and a decorated veteran! I’m untouchable son!”
That is exactly how it went down that day almost down to the T. it was an introduction I Will never forget, and in introduction that was just the beginning of the end.
It didn’t take long for Bob to get comfortable with me, as I Learned it didn’t take long for him to get comfortable with anyone. “Bob the Butcher” he was called and know by to almost everybody! Now it was almost immediately that Bob had started to show me how to cut. And I Did get the hang out of. Within a week I Learned how to cut four different steaks and by the month I Had learned to cut most of the basic/standard cuts. My meat manager Armando and Bob were not shy and within my first month I Started coming out of my shell a little. We talked about things ranging from anywhere between religion to sex, even our personal and financial lives. Between the whole department we all knew practically everything about each other, we just got personal.
After about my first month I Noticed the Bob was a heavy drinker, I Heard stories and was seen videos and even voicemails from drunk calls to my co workers. It wasn’t long before I Was put in the morning shift and notices, AT LEAST 3 days a week Bob would come in drunk! With his red-nosed shining almost as bright as Rudolph’s from the whisky, I Knew he was not able to cut meat let alone use a saw. Over time I Got used to it as was everyone else in my department. It was almost to the point where the opener practically knew we would have to cut meat in the morning to cover Bob s ass. It wasn’t a problem though we would cover for eachother… even to the end.
It was my 6th month when I Got to the store where I Got a text from another meat clerk, saying how something happened with Bob and Armando . Come to find out on my day off our district manager had walked in and noticed something was off about our meat. After reviewing footage 4 out of 5 of us got suspended; me Bob Armando and another meat clerk. We had to go to a couple of meetings at the corporate office and within two weeks the five people who were in the meat department didn’t even work there one meat clerk, Armando and Bob got fired, I Was asked to resign, and the other meat clerk quit in protest.
In the end none of us got fired for Bob being drunk or us cutting meat, they reviewed months and months of footage pulling skeletons out of the closet.
Bob , got fired for cutting meat that was bad, he was caught on footage grabbing and out dated box, and seen in another camera smelling the meat (to see if it was good) and continued to cut it and sell it.
Armando , got fired for grinding beef that was out of its life shelf, meaning it was too old to grind.
The other meat clerk, Chris got fired for extending days on product, he was caught on footage extending seafood days.
As for me, I got fired for leaving meat out of refrigeration and putting them back out for sale.
I now work for sprouts in Alta Loma as a meat cutter, my meat manager now had actually not only worked for Stater Bros. Before but was also fired and also worked with Bob . In the interview he said he knows what I had gone through and although I have not been a meat cutter before, know I know how, and was taught by Bob .