Work To &Thru College

    The Safeway Warehouse

    One of the interesting problems in going to college was finding a job.  Most of the employers in Payson knew who I was and that I was a good worker but no one in Salt Lake City knew who I was let alone someone that would hire me for work.  Mom worked for Roy Rogers, the owner of the local IGA market, who gave me a name to contact.  The contact was the provider of produce for the local IGA store.  When I got to Salt Lake City I went to visit this person, whom I thought would give me a job.  His first comment was that Safeway paid the highest rate for workers in the area and he would try and get me a job there.  He gave me a name and address and sent me on my way.  When I met with the warehouse boss (Mr. Strong I think was his name) at Safeway he seemed hostile.  He didn’t care who had recommended me, he expected me to work.  He acted as if I were some big wig’s son.  This was my first time of using a network to get a job, except may be Glenn Ray’s dad helping me at the Del Monte Cannery. I had to be at work on Saturday mornings at 5:00 am.  I do not remember how I got there but I did.  My take home pay was $14.12 each week, thus I must have been close to $2.00 per hour, almost double my pay around home.  This job meant that I missed all of the home football games because the job over lapped with the start of the games.  I remember listening to games on the radio in my room after work.

    One day after work I had to walk to my dormitory (Wasatch Hall) on campus from down town, well over a mile.  Crossing State Street I encountered a beggar that needed some money for his morning coffee.  He had almost enough money.  I asked him to share his wealth with me as I had no money with me.  I pulled out my pockets and showed him that I was worse off than he.  He left me alone very quickly.  The walk was further than I thought but I felt that I had a good day and was in charge of life.  

    Each morning we would meet with the crew chief who would make assignments.  Part of the crew would unload a box car and the remainder would arrange things in the warehouse.  The worst job I ever encountered was unloading bags of charcoal because many bags were broken. Every thing and every one was black with charcoal dust. The next worst, was boxes of bottled products such as catsup, which bleed all over when broken.  I think that it took a whole morning to empty a big box car.  Putting things away was a different problem.  Boxes of toilet paper was the hardest as they had to be piled so high.  Note: the boxes of TP was the heaviest that we had to handle.  You had to make neat stacks or start over.  The TP boxes were hard to make neat, thus taking extra time and complaints about how slow we worked.

    I was used to heavy things as I had handled bales of hay, so boxes of canned food was pretty easy.  I remember one morning working with the second or third string quarter back for the U of U.  He was very competitive and tried so hard to keep up with me.  We were off loading a pallet and stacking them in the ware house.  I was able to get an extra box every once in a while, actually about 5 to his 4.  He would try and race me but he wasn’t as good as I at boxes.  I did delight in working faster than he. I am sure that he would out work me on the football field but the warehouse was my home turf.  That year we had an all-american quarterback in Lee Grosscup thus his being second string he could have been second best in the nation.  

    As Clyde (Robins) and I gained trust we were allowed to run or fill orders for the stores.  Running orders involved taking a list requested from the stores and pulling things from the warehouse and placing them on carts for loading on trucks and shipping out to the stores throughout Utah.  This was fun as we learned to work quickly and accurately.  Thus we got to unload things from box cars, place them in the warehouse, and then load them on carts or dollies for distribution.  We never were involved in loading the trucks for delivery. I guess that was above our pay grade. Actually we were not members of the union.

    The second year when we came back to work every one pointed out that we had missed a union strike during the summer.  They claimed that the union workers had gotten us a raise even though we were not union members.  When we received our first check it was two cents less than last year.  With the new raise we were in a higher tax bracket so they deducted two cents more per week. I laughed about that because the union had not helped us but cost us due to Uncle Sam.