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Working at CVS in the Eighties
In the late eighties, I landed my first job at a large chain store. It was at CVS. I had a couple of jobs before this, but they were all local businesses located in my town. Not only was this new job part of a larger company, but it was also at the mall, and working there was a very different experience.
The mall was located in my town and the CVS was an original tenant, so I was very familiar with the location, When I saw them posting a help wanted sign, I decided to apply.
The interview could not have been easier, and they hired me on the spot. I filled out some paperwork, was told about the dress code, and was given my first shift two days later. That first shift was pretty much just training.
I was told about facing products, how to use the register, and most importantly to keep an eye out for theft. I liked the training because they sat me down in a little office and had me watch training videos for a while with zero supervision. At one point, the manager came into the room to get something and saw me taking notes on what I was watching. When she realized what I was doing, she burst into laughter. Shamed, I crinkled up the notes and just tried to pay closer attention.
I had worked a few jobs before, but none where shoplifting was a major issue, I finished my first shift thinking that most of my job was going to be about theft prevention. Thankfully, it wasn’t. But I twas surprised at how often it occurred (daily) and how I pretty much went to school with the majority of people caught.
The job wasn’t very challenging and centered around for tasks:
Register duty. This was the “Big Show” and took the most amount of training. Credit cards were slower to process, and you needed to know how to deal with rejections. You also had to take checks and issue refunds (with a manager’s sign off). I liked working at the register. Although, this is where the customer would be the meanest. Every shift, at least one person would make a degrading comment to me. You get used to it after a while, but it wasn’t great.
Facing and Shelving. Shelving is stocking shelves. Facing was how you placed things on the shelf. Even when you weren’t putting out new product, you were expected to organize the shelf by bringing product to the front and making it look tidy. It was tedious work, and bending over all day would leave you with sore knees and back.
Cleaning. This happened at the start or end of the day, depending on what shift you were working. I was often given the vacuum to run while others dusted and faced products. I can still smell that vacuum cleaner decades later.
Trash. We had a large dumpster in the back of the mall and once or more per shift, someone would need to gather the trash and take it out. This was pre-recycling days, so we would also take all the broken down cardboard boxes out. I really liked this job and because no one wanted to get near the dumpster, I quickly became the go-to person for the task. It was nice to get outside for a bit, I liked wielding my store-issued box cutter, and I enjoyed making a game of seeing how few trips I could do the work in.
The entire time I worked there, I never entered the pharmacy. Even when collecting trash, they would leave it in front of the counter and I would collect it. Weirdly, I don’t remember them vacuuming back there. Maybe they never did? Must have been dusty.
I worked at CVS for about a year. While there, I started to apply at the Suncoast Motion Picture Company nearby, and held positions at both for about 4 months before I decided to go all-in at Suncoast. CVS was a decent place to work at the time. Suncoast though, was more my speed. I love movies, and the customers were a lot nicer.
Along with my memories, I also held onto my CVS name tag, my box cutter and my “Cast Card” I am including them here with my name and info removed. That way, if you want to role-play working at this chain in the eighties, you can fill them out yourself.
Did you work at a CVS? How was your experience? Let me know in the comments.