Working Girl

I began my job at Trader Joe’s last week, although for a few days prior I wasn’t sure whether that was going to happen or not. I got the all clear from the eye doctor, but a week before my first day I woke up and could barely walk across the room. Somehow during the night I had done something to my back (again) and it was a mess. Brett put me on bedrest for a couple of days, got me a heating pad, made sure I took pain medication on time, and by the following weekend everything was back to normal.

These are happy colors for me, making the job a bit more fun.

I went in early Monday morning, March 6, for “onboarding:” paperwork and getting entered into the system for my schedule and to get paid. I also got my “work uniform,” Trader Joe’s t-shirts and a personal bright green box cutter. I was very happy to find a t-shirt pack in my size with shirts in my favorite colors: spring green, periwinkle, light blue, and two aqua. Once in the system I was able to block out two Saturdays in April for other events I’d already scheduled – it was all very positive and super easy to do online.

The following Thursday was my first scheduled full day, from 11a.m. to 7 p.m. (schedules are made for three week periods so employees can plan). I was paired with three experienced crew members throughout the day to learn the store layout, how to run the register, stock shelves, and all sorts of other things. I worked hard but it was FUN. I was initially chilly in my t-shirt, but my first partner found me a (brand new) special edition Trader Joe’s 50th anniversary hoodie which made the day a whole lot more comfortable (plus the sweatshirt looks great with my t-shirts). I especially appreciated the big kangaroo pocket – perfect for carrying my box cutter, glasses case, and a couple of other things (I ended up having to wear a pair of readers perched on my nose all day). Everyone I interacted with throughout the day, both other employees and customers, was very nice, and the positive atmosphere was something I don’t think I’ve ever experienced in a work situation before. Also, the job rotation throughout the day made the time fly by. Trader Joe’s is a happy place to work.

My special edition hoodie is very comfortable and warm, perfect for our chilly store. It also reminds me of Hawaii which of course makes me very happy too.

I left feeling tired my first day but nowhere near as tired as I thought I would be. The biggest surprise was my feet didn’t hurt at all (thank you HOKA!), and my body was only mildly sore, something a couple of Aleve took care of once I was home. My second day was another story though. The entire day was exhausting and every muscle in my body and my feet were tired and sore. I was told over and over though that the exhaustion was normal, that the second day is/was worse for everyone who works at Trader Joe’s, and that it will take a few weeks for my body to adjust as I’m asking it to do things it hasn’t done in a long, long time.

I’m working today, paired one last time with another employee to soak in as much as I can, but on my next workday I’ll be on my own for the first time. I’m already sort of anxious, and know I’ll be asking A LOT of questions all day long.

The employee discount is fantastic (the benefit I was most excited about) – Brett and I shopped after I finished last Saturday and were very pleasantly surprised by our total after the discount was applied. I plan on buying more of our groceries at TJ’s going forward; with the discount many if not most items will cost less than they do at Aldi (although I’ll still be shopping there as well).

I’m going to stick with a two-day/week schedule for the time being, probably until after we get back from Meiling’s wedding this summer, and then may bump it up to three days a week.

My first impressions are that the job seems like it will be a good fit for me. I’m happy to be somewhere where I’m busy all the time but get a nice, long lunch break, and out of the house for a couple of days a week. Brett is fine handling the extra grandchild duties. I’m also getting some good exercise and interacting with lots of nice people; I enjoy the work environment and that lovely discount; and of course a little bit of money will be coming my way as a sweetener. It’s everything I hoped for.


24 thoughts on “Working Girl

  1. Congratulations on your new job. I also work 2 days a week which is a perfect schedule. Enjoy being in a positive environment.


    1. Two days per week is perfect for starting out at my age, although my first three work days only had one day off between each one! The work environment at TJ’s is very positive and upbeat – I’ve never worked anywhere else like it.


    1. It has been a terrific place to work so far although I am tired and sore when my shift is over. That should hopefully ease up after a while. I love being busy there – the time goes by quickly.


  2. That’s great that you ar off to a good start! No TJs where we live but when we shop there on trips the employees have always been helpful and happy, which is a sign of a good work environment in my mind! Hoka’s are great on-your-feet work shoes.


    1. I am so happy we have a TJs nearby – it’s less than 10 minutes from our house. I’ve shopped at TJ’s for years, and now I get to see how it all works.

      My Hoka’s are the perfect work shoe – I couldn’t get over how good my feet felt at the end of my first shift. I’m planning to eventually buy a second pair, but the ones I have now still have a lot of life in them.


  3. Congrats, it sounds every bit as good as you’d hoped! I love your new work “uniform” – comfy and cheerful 🙂


    1. The job is just what I hoped it would – I’m busy and get to interact with others all day in a positive way. It’s very physical, but I like it and how the day goes by quickly.


  4. If we had a TJs here after reading your take as an employee I would go and sign up for my 2 days a week as well. Will be interested in how you feel about it 3 months down the track, what affect it has had on your costs and have you been able to boost your savings significantly. I guess working will also boost your SS payments eventually.


    1. I am so grateful that one employee recommended I apply for a job there, and another older worker also encouraged me to apply. It seems like it’s going to be a very good fit. In three months I will make the call whether or not to add an extra day each week.

      The discount made a palpable difference in our grocery purchase there. I’ve heard from a few other employees there that they now almost exclusively do their shopping there because with the discount it’s cheaper than any place else. TJ’s quality can’t be beat either.

      I forgot that my SS will eventually get a boost from my working there (it better because I will be paying FICA taxes again while I’m working). All of my pay, or at least the majority of it, will be going into savings.


      1. I enjoy my job, but it is tiring. My body wants to quit after six hours, but everyone says that’s normal when you’re starting out. I’m still being trained – there is so much to know! It really is a great place to work though.


  5. Lovely pic & perfect color tshirt. Trader Joes has the nicest employees…one reason I shop there often. Their pace though would definitely be challenging for me. Their gluten free bread is absolutely my favorite along with their organic veggies. I do admire your initiative.


    1. I felt like I’d won the jackpot when I found that pack of T-shirts! Those are my colors, and I was so afraid I’d be stuck with black, navy, and red otherwise. Nothing wrong with them, but I know they would depress me. The hoodie was the icing on the cake.

      The pace is fast at TJ’s but it also make the time go quickly. There’s always something to do. I enjoy being at the register, but nothing hurts my back more than bagging for an hour or so because I have to slightly bend over to do it. I still cannot sell wine or beer – I have to take a class in Tennessee before I am certified to do that.

      My favorite product (the new Mee Knob snacks) are currently out of stock, but I am going to order a case when they come in next month (seriously!). I have yet to come across a TJ’s product that I don’t like, although I do avoid their super spicy stuff.


    1. Thanks, Cindy. That’s me without glasses and with makeup, but while I work I have a pair of aqua readers perched on the end of my nose (just to keep the whole old lady thing going).


  6. Cool! I was wondering how it was going. I live very close to a TJs and I’ve often thought of working a couple of nights or weekends each week, just to see what it’s like, but I have a full-time job as it is and that wouldn’t leave much time for anything else. Maybe after I retire from my current career I’ll look into it. I know you don’t need it, but do you know if they offer health insurance for part-timers?


    1. I have met a couple of employees that work full time elsewhere but will not leave TJ’s because of the work atmosphere and the discount. They do offer health care to every employee, part- or full-time. I turned it down because of Tricare/Medicare, but would have been immediately eligible for benefits. The 20% discount in the benefit I was (and am) most excited about.

      It’s a busy, fast-paced job. I still have lots to learn (like stocking the refrigerators and produce, the freezers, and stuff like that) but the days go by quickly, and I have a nice one-hour lunch break in the middle of the day.


  7. I too love the colors of your “uniform” shirts and that hoodie!!! Oh my, I’m on the hunt to find one of those!!!
    So happy to hear that the job is going well and you are settling into that schedule.


    1. I love, love, love my hoodie. Our store is quite cool, and it’s made working pleasant (I initially was chilled to the bone).

      My schedule will be different every week – sometimes the two days will be close together, like last week, but other times they’ll be spread apart, like next week, when I have five days off in-between my two scheduled work days.


  8. Nice tee shirts and great colors! I’m sure once you get “broken in” on the work front, you will be less tired and feel more confident. And the discount sounds heavenly.


    1. Those are seriously all my favorite colors – never thought I’d have them as my work uniform.

      I bounced back more quickly following my third day of work than I did my second. After that day I spend my day off in my pajamas with the heating pad on my back all day. I’m so curious what I’ll be doing the next time I go in – there are several areas of the store I have yet to learn. Everyone is so helpful though, and so kind and patient. The woman in charge of the flowers frightens me though – she’s very serious and the only person I sort of steer clear of (and the only person who’s never greeted me or spoken to me – she always looks right through me) – but I know I’ll get paired up with her one of these days to learn that part of the store and I am dreading it. I will say her flower displays are the most beautiful I’ve ever seen though at a Trader Joe’s.

      The discount is fabulous. I am going to primarily shop at Trader Joe’s going forward.

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