Winn-Dixie Whining

Saturday I spent quite a bit of time on epicurious.com putting together an elaborate Thanksgiving menu and figuring out what to cook when. Yesterday was Shopping Day. I was feeling pretty ahead of the game as I trundled my buggy into the checkout line, having secured the last two cans of Libby’s pumpkin in the store. But there was a hitch: “I can’t sell you that alcohol ‘fore twelve o’clock,” the dispirited checkout clerk mumbled.

Huh? What alcohol? Oh, she meant the bottle of cheap sparkling wine I’d picked up for the Pomegranate-Ginger Champagne Cocktails. Sure enough, it was only 11:20. “No problem!” I said brightly. And it really wasn’t – after all, there were still three and a half days of alcohol-purchasing opportunity ahead for me. But still.

I cannot understand how this ridiculous blue law remains on the books. Winn-Dixie is licensed to sell wine and beer seven days a week. I passed several elaborate end-cap displays of both on my way through the store. The state cannot possibly have any compelling interest in prohibiting alcohol sales before noon on Sundays besides keeping the preachers happy.

When I was a girl growing up in New Orleans, only groceries and drugstores could open on Sunday, presumably because they sold “necessary” items. Then the retail lines got blurry, and both began to sell items normally associated with dry-goods stores. In what I remember as a deliberate effort to overturn the blue laws, clerks at the K&B drugstore were arrested for selling tube socks on a Sunday. Sure enough, soon the law was gone, Lakeside Mall was open on Sunday, and the thirty-year consumer frenzy began.

It seems to me that there ought to be a way to get clearly unconstitutional laws struck down without some poor clerk having to make the nightly news. But then, this is Alabama, the no-sex-toys state. I suppose I should be grateful I was allowed to buy my wine at all.

10 Responses to “Winn-Dixie Whining”

  1. Cindi says:

    I had to laugh because when I started working (mid-’70s), stores weren’t open. It wasn’t long before the Gayfers at which I worked started opening from 1-5. Those of us who began work prior to the “repeal” of the blue laws weren’t required to work, but hey it was another day of pay. The preachers went ape in the pulpit proclaiming the wrath of God on the stores. Of course, that didn’t stop the church-goers from eating lunch at the Picadilly or shopping on Sunday afternoons. Then the hours increased from 12-5. Then 12-6. Then 11-6. Now most are 12-6 and longer. It’s absolutely hysterical to me. And the day my own preacher, who stood in the pulpit and just about spit on anyone who DARED darken the door of a store on Sunday, came in to buy something on a Sunday and I waited on him, I just busted out laughing. I think he was embarrassed, and rightly so. Oh the hypocrisy of it all.

    I agree; all the blue laws need to go…away…

  2. Danner says:

    Most wet counties in this state still have no Sunday sales at all; the “after 12:00pm” provision was a big victory a few years back for pro-Sunday-sales groups.

    There is another push in the works to expand Sunday sales here. Not sure if we’ll get it before noon anywhere in AL in my lifetime, but hopefully more counties will see it in the next few years.

  3. Del says:

    I was thinking about you, Danner, at the Fresh Market, where I went yesterday afternoon to get the weirder vegetables & that sparkling wine. They had little white cardboard carriers for customers to build their own six-packs of assorted high-end beer. I’d never seen anything like that before.

    Cindi, your pastor came in and you waited on him? That is priceless. I’m sure these days, many working parents consider it a true blessing to be able to shop the mall on Sunday afternoons.

  4. Kathy says:

    Funny thing about sex toys v. alcohol. It’s legal to buy your sex toys elsewhere and have them shipped here, but IIRC it’s illegal to buy wine out of state and have it shipped here. Those legislated morals can be very confusing.

  5. Bill says:

    If you overturn the blue laws, the gays will have sex, sex toys will be legal and rock music will be played instead of wholesome big band tunes. You hussie.

  6. Del says:

    I know you’re right, Bill. All my gay friends are just waiting for the sodomy laws to be overturned so they can get started having sex. :)

  7. Good post, I like your writing style! I’ve added http://queervoice.net/kmcmullen/ to my feed reader, and will be reading your posts from now on. Just a quick question – did you design your header image yourself, or have it done professionally? If you had it done by a professional, who was it?

  8. I wanted to take a few minutes and give you some feedback on my experience with Winn Dixie. I was thrilled when hired by Winn Dixie, knowing I could make a difference. My two months in training with Isobel at store # 18 was grueling. In reality, it was not so much a training as it was simply using me and my felloe trainee, Carmen, as deli workers. About a month into the training both Carmen and I became very vocal about not receiving any training in ordering or paperwork. The only time I ever saw an order form was when we were doing inventory. One afternoon Isobel sat with us while she ran through her paperwork. It was a blur. She was written up both months we were there for never doing her paperwork. Carmen called the district manager, John Longdon, twice about our concerns. Isobel told me repeatedly that the nature of the job was that there was never enough time to do all that had to be done, that the pressure was awful, that her health was suffering. She even showed me how she changed the red dot stickers on food on the Chicken-dizer when the four hour mark hit, that there was not enough time to keep it full, or that the shrink was so high.

    One of the things that I noticed right off the bat was that at least once or twice a week the store manager would tell us that “we had company coming”. He meant that corporate was going to be in the store soon and “we had to make it perfect”. We would be told to have at least twenty rotisserie chickens on the chicken-dizer, even though they would get thrown out later. Now as far as I was concerned (and still am!) we had company coming every day; our customers! I went through this last week, and every week I worked for Winn Dixie. If that much attention to appearance and quality was shown to our customers, not just “corporate”…then there would be no holding this company back!

    I finally had a conversation with Terry, my specialist at the time. I expressed grave concerns about the pressure, the lack of quality, the “shortcuts” people took to get it all done, the verbal abuse and cussing that Isobel experienced from her store manager. I was also very outspoken about the fact that I was not being trained to do paperwork, or ordering. Then Michelle joined us there briefly for training. This is the same store manager whose wife was hired as a Food Service Manager when she has no skills in management or in a kitchen…who is STILL employed simply because of her husband! When I took over the deli that she had been running at store #25, I found a months work of old food in the walk-in (it was rotting) , was told she had been pouring fryer oil down the drain, was told by the store manager that she simply didn’t know what she was doing.

    One afternoon, while still in training, I received a call from John Longdon, and was told to go to store #90 the next morning. This is the store at the corner of University Blvd. and San Jose Blvd. I was so excited, was finally going to get to start my job! I got there the next day and reported to the store manager, Kendrick; he was very surprised…no one had told him I was starting that day. He said that the previous manger, Jennifer, had been told the night before that she was being transferred. I told Kendrick at this time that I had received NO training on ordering or paperwork. He assured me he would teach me. Kendrick took me to the dept. and introduced me to the employees. To say they were unhappy was a gross understatement. I immediately noticed that the department was filthy and unorganized. I figured I would let the employees keep working and I would start to clean and organize. I found a box of rotting meat in the walk-in (some with dates 2 months old!). The floors and tables were dirty. I set to cleaning. One of the first things I noticed was that the temperature log was not filled in all day. I was told, by Arben (my supposed “”assistant”) that the employees were too busy so “he filled it in at night”. He told me this in front of the other employees. I went to Kendrick about it; he told me to take it easy on them, that if I pushed the issue, they would quit. This was not an issue I was willing to bend on, food safety is not negotiable in my book. The employees, especially the five Bosnians in the department, went to Kendrick and told him I did not like them because they were from another country. This was so ridiculous it was hard to take seriously! Kendrick told me to stop trying to enforce the temp log or cleaning, that they would all quit! Then I did the schedule for the following week. The employees threatened to quit, called me a liar, cussed me. I went to Kendrick. He said to give them any schedule they wanted. He said to work on “getting them to like me”! He said as soon as they learned to like me then they would do what I asked them. Well, by now I was frustrated, they were hardly speaking to me and they were being taught by Kendrick that I was not in charge, and they obviously had no respect for me. I was told the employees would help me with the ordering. That was a joke, they didn’t want me there, they were stabbing me in the back. The order was a mess.. I TOLD them I had never ordered!! NO ONE OFFERED TO TEACH ME!!!

    One week into the department and I was called in to Kendrick’s office for a meeting with Allison Delaney, John Langdon, Terry Exley and Kendrick. They said they were writing me up for my “problems with the ordering!” I tried to explain the hostile environment, my lack of training. They said I was fully trained. They said that I had to develop rapport with my employees, get them to like me. Jeeez, what chaos if all employees have to actually LIKE their bosses before they will work. I had never seen anything like it! John and Kendrick fully admitted that the way I was brought into the department was unfair. That the previous manager was very well liked because she let them do as they pleased. The employees were furious at me because I would not let them drink or eat in the department, that I enforced dress code, that I expected cleanliness in the department. They said they would “give me another chance”. I thought they were crazy! The very next day they asked Antoinella (the previous manager to Jennifer) to come spend a day with me and teach me some of the things I needed to know. They admitted that the ideal way to have handled the whole situation was to have had a deli manager overlap my coming into the department.

    The temp log issue came to a head when a customer who had just broken her arm asked me to cut up a Rotisserie chicken for her. This was a chicken that Arben had just cooked and put on the chicken-dizer. I cut it open and it was raw!!! I went to Kendrick, he told me to leave it alone! The next day when Arben came to work, I had taken every thermometer out of the kitchen, they were all in my desk. I watched Arben fry chicken, walk right past me and put the chicken in the hotline. I asked him what the temp was. He told me 170. I explained that it was supposed to be 180 and asked him how he checked it. He said he did, that I just didn’t see him. He told me to stop talking!!! I went to Kendrick. Kendrick came back to the department and informed me that it was my word against Arbens’!

    Then Fresh Check (Winn Dixie’s inspection) came through. I failed. In 30 years of being a Chef I had never had a health code violation until now. I was pissed! They asked about my temp log. I told them the truth; that I had been instructed to NOT enforce it! The health department was there the next day for an inspection. Same results. They were appalled that I had a shoulder high pile of garbage in my department. I told them that was normal, that the one dumpster was always full. We were instructed to push the cart full of garbage into the freezer at night. The only problem with this was that it would leek, then the goo would freeze to the floor! They asked me about the temp log. I was also honest with them about it, I told them my hands were tied. They said they would come back every three weeks to try to get it all straightened out.

    We had the grand opening, everything was beautiful, sales went up….but the employee problems continued. Terry Exley would not help me at all, even though she admitted I was in an impossible situation.

    Then I became aware of the fact that an employee in my department was sexually harassing an 18 year old high school girl who was working in the deli. I was told it was the second time he had sexually harassed a young female employee in the store. My Atlanta food rep, Linley Harriss, was also harassed by him. His name is Donald, he has been with WD for years. The amazing thing was that Kendrick did not act on this info, he simply transferred him to another department!!

    By this time I was disgusted and exhausted. Everyone was aware of what I was going through. Kendrick “forgot” to tell me about the Core class given on financials at my store!!! Gregg Stanford knew what I was going through. Other deli manager and food service managers were very helpful and began urging me to go outside of my district for help. So did Martha, the woman who taught our training classes. She gave me the name of someone to call. Finally I did so. They offered me a transfer to another store.

    I got fired yesterday; they said my dept. wasn’t making money! No crap, I haven’t had any employees. I had to fire two employees last week, one for stealing, one for being mad all the time and yelling and refusing to do what she was asked to- follow dress code. A few days I have been in the department by myself, in that huge new deli! The only person there for an 8 hour shift, and the store manger said it was my fault he had to help!!!! The health dept. came to my department two days ago and the only things I got written up for were that my sanitizer buckets did not have labels on them, I have asked 3 different times for them and everyone has been too busy or said they would get them for me. Also the drain in my mop sink was clogged, which I have reported to both store managers and they hadn’t done anything about it. The truth is that I am too exhausted and stressed to care anymore. The only closers I have had for my department are high school students who don’t care. I have taken that deli from barely $300.00 a day in sales to an average $800.00 to $1000. a day. Yes, my shrink is high. Every morning I come to work and find duplicate pieces of lunch meat open. TWO DAYS AGO I showed Ross Garza, the store manager,and Derek FIVE open pieces of Swiss cheese, three D&W roast beefs that were all opened. I check dates every day in that meat case and EVERY morning there are duplicates and the meats are not where they belong. I had a LEXAN full of duplicates I showed both store managers!!! They said it was my fault for not training the employees correctly!

    I care passionately about my job and that department. I am conscientious and great at what I do. I have worked my tail off for Winn Dixie since the day I was hired. Two weeks ago I worked five 12 hour days, two days at another store. I haven’t had but a few days off in a month. One day, after working 12 hours, I was told I was “not allowed” to go home yet, that there was too much to do! It is ridiculous that someone who works as hard as I do, am honest, passionate and professional have been fired, and the slackers who are still in that department are still working. The employees in both stores I worked in began eating in the deli after seeing that they were clean!

    I was told there was an appeal process. I was told by Ross to call Allison Delaney I did so. She did not bothered to so return my phone calls. When I did reach someone a few days later, they just told me nothing could be done.

  9. JESSICA says:

    I was googling Food Service Manager with Winn-Dixie and ran across this post and had to also tell my happy story with Winn-Dixie Store Management and also defend some of the people named in the previous post.

    I have allot of experience with Winn-Dixie. I will be going to Florida this month for my Food Service Manager training. I have been deli manager for about six months in a remodal store. I have trained a WHOLE NEW team while training myself. It is all about management skills. My people had issues but I chose to build them up instead of pushing them out. I managed to hire six new associates all around the same month. I have five of these associates still today and I would not trade them for anyone. There was some drama and issues, as it is with any new team, but that is where you must know how to deal with people. There are ways to motivate them to do good instead of just complaining and fussing.

    I did not have food experience, therefore, my merchandiser as you spoke of before thought he should put me in a test period before promoting me to FSM The company spends allot of money on training FSM’S so I understand his concerns.. I was not pleased to begin with but, then I realized it was a chance to prove to him and myself that I could do this. My deli has went from doing $8000 weekly to $12000 weekly. We did over $20,000 Christmas week.

    I have never felt so accomplished and deserving of a position in my career. I had management experience (CSM, FEM, Assistant Store Manager) but, no deli experience at all. It was all foreign to me but, I do not understand how it could have been that bad on you. I do have a very supportive Store Manager that was EXTREMELY helpful during this whole process and he deserves credit for my accomplishments too.

    But, best of luck with your career.

  10. Winn-Dixie ME says:

    Dear Millie-

    I hope you still check this because I would like to say that I have NO PROBLEM believing EVERYTHING you have stated. The very same kind of conduct goes on in my store in Holly Hill Florida. It is truly unbelievable! There is heavy micromanagement of the people who actually WORK and management turns a deaf ear and a blind eye to those who spend 99% of their time on the clock standing around talking and giggling with each other and even worse. I have turned one person in many times for stealing and nothing is EVER done about it. She’s been there for more than a decade under the same store director and she just gets by with everything! It’s crazy. Then, they play up the fact that you should just be glad YOU have a job. I AM! No bones about it! But come on! Doesn’t ANYONE care if Winn-Dixie STAYS profitable? What about the employees GRAZING on produce, deli and bakery items for free? NOT out of date either! NEW PRODUCT! And yes, I have clued them in many times, all to no avail! And if you keep on, then YOU are the “trouble maker”! When did THAT happen? Just know you are not alone. There ARE still good people out here. We’re just REALLY hard to find!!!!!!!!!!!

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