…by Anura Guruge
On Saturday, at the Laconia Multicultural Day, I met a guy I had known for a long time from the Gilford Hannaford supermarket. He was the life and soul of the Deli counter. Given that I too can on occasion be a tad sociable and possibly even a bit of a clown, he and I got on like a house on fire — with rapid-fire, banter and lots of joshing around. Since we moved to Alton, in March 2007, we, of course, don’t go to the Gilford Hannaford that much, going instead to the Alton Hannaford (though we, when we can, do our BIG SHOP at ‘Market Basket’, of late in Tilton (which is much, much better than Concord) and also frequent ‘Fiddle Heads’). So, I don’t see him that often anymore.
When I saw him on Saturday I told him that I had visited his Hannaford a few weeks ago but had missed him. He replied, to my amazement, that this was not surprising in that he no longer worked there — he had been let go, laid off, in June! I really was taken aback. He really was a live wire and in my opinion a huge asset to the store because he tried so hard to make all the customers happy and cheerful. My first question to him, however, knowing his inclinations, was: ‘did they catch you messing around with any of the girls?‘. He vehemently denies that.
His explanation, to begin with, was that he had been there for 9 years, was a full-time employee with full benefits and that Hannaford replaced him with two part-timers, 20 hours each — and as such with no benefits. How many times have we heard this? And yes, we do know at least 3 people who work for Hannaford on this ’20-hour’ (with lots of overtime), no benefits scheme. I, as is my wont, grilled him further. He admitted that they found one ‘out-of-code’ product on his shelves. Given that I have never worked in a supermarket I am not sure how that ranks. But, to be fair, they can claim that they found some fault.
He also went onto claim that all of this started when the company changed hands … 5 new investors. Well, as far as I can see, there has been no changes in the ownership aspect of Hannaford — they are still owned by a Belgium conglomerate. But, I do see a trend, something that I have been talking about for the last 9 months.
To me, each time I go to Hannaford (and that is on average 3 times a week), I walk away with the distinct impression they are trying to sway the November 2012 election in Romney’s favor by making folks feel poor! They seem to jack up prices just so that people when asked that 4 year question have to answer in the negative. I don’t go to that many retail outlets, BUT Hannaford is the one that always strikes me as being extremely anti-Obama and trying to do everything they can to force him out of office. Laying off full time people would also fit in with this motive. Make people suffer. Blame poor Obama. Yes, the ‘Keeping Millions Unemployed To Put One Man Out of Work’. I could be wrong, and it is definitely not the folks at the local stores, but Hannaford strikes me (from my limited exposure) as one of the biggest culprits.
Over a year ago a friend of mine from Best Buy (who befriended me when I did a short stint at the Concord store as a weekends only Epson printer merchandiser) had a similar experience. He had been at Best Buy for over 10 years and worked his self up the ladder; that he was a computer whiz, very hard working and personable helped. When I met him he was an Assistant Manager and awfully helpful and kind to ‘guests’ like me. Shortly after I stopped doing the Epson gig he got another ‘promotion’. He was made the Inventory Manager. He had to undergo special training. He was very good at it. He always liked inventory and took great delight in seeing trucks getting unloaded.
They fired him about 9 months into the job citing an inventory violation. It had to do with 3 returned PCs and it was in Best Buys favor! He had included these three returned PCs as part of Concord’s inventory — albeit, with a note stating that they were returns! There was no hanky-panky, no funny business. No inventory had gone missing. If anything Best Buy had more inventory. But they fired him and replaced him with a young guy earning $20K less. This did not warrant a firing. Ironically he is an avowed, devout Republican (because as he claims, he as a Best Buy manager was paying so much tax).
I am willing to believe that this was another ‘get a cheaper’ worker scenario. But, poor Obama gets blamed.
Nothing I can do. I gave up trying to do my freelance professional writing a few years ago. So many unemployed writers willing to write for peanuts that it was just aggravating looking for work.
I feel bad for all of those laid off. I feel bad for those looking for work. I feel bad for all those folks making $20,000 who swear to God that they are going to vote for Romney because Obama is going to increase their taxes! I feel bad for those that don’t have health care but swear to God that they are going to vote for Romney because ‘Obamacare’ is scary and is akin to letting D.C. into bed with them! I feel bad that Hannaford is screwing all of us just to sway the election. Ditto for the Alton Circle Gas Station that raised gas prices 13 cents between Saturday evening and Sunday morning. I hope for better days to come, but I am not that hopeful. All the best. Keep your toes crossed.