Saturday, December 06, 2008

ball of confusion

we had this poster in our coffeehouse

Ten pounds of roasted coffee requires
4,000 to 5,000 coffee beans.

A pound of coffee yields about 40 cups of coffee.

A post by Merle a few days ago reminded me of a
job I had for a few years before I started at the
paper in SF. On this corner at 9th Ave and Clement
was Thom's Natural Foods. Since those days
they have moved to Geary Street near the Cliff House area.

When I started, I helped put the produce out on carts
in the front of the store. I was told about the elderly
folks hovering across the street, waiting for the old
produce that we would toss. We were to leave in a box
on the side of the building, and they would come and sift
through it. I noticed one lady who would push and shove the
others out of the way, and was told she looked for fruit, as she
made preserves and sold them. After awhile, I came to know a few
of the others, and ended up telling them when I was out there,
that I would leave one box, and to wait for that lady to go for that
one and I would leave a second box with better left overs for them.

This worked well and threw her off the scent.
Other times, while on a register, other elderly people
would come in a purchase 3 or 4 carrots or something.
I had a nasty habit of putting them on the scale and
ringing up another item at the same time and simply
dropping the carrots etc in the bag. One time I was caught
by one of the ladies and said "oops" but let it go.

Knowing the markup at the time, I figured they were
still making ample profits and they must have.
At the time, there were no large health food stores
and out in the avenues in SF, people walked and bused
most everywhere.

Working for Thom and his partner also
taught me how to interact with other
employees, which helped me in other jobs
through the years.

After my first few weeks, every Fri he would
pull me (and others) aside and tell us what a
good job we were doing, how our area improved and
how we interacted with the public and made sure
we received a $.25 raise. I left when I was close to
$9.00 hr and this was back in '77.

Roy Lichtenstein


ratatouille's archives said...

Hi! Coffee Messiah,
Thank-you! for adding me (link) and Mentness link to your very "impressive" roll of links.

While searching the web, I discover the poster (La Victoria Arduino per caffe espresso) that use to be featured in your coffeehouse. (I also found a very "cool" widget that not only feature the poster(La Victoria Arduino per caffe espresso, but several pictures of different coffee posters.)

Btw,What a wonderful remembrance of your past job or a job that past thanks, for sharing.

dackcitydame ;-)

tony said...

A Good Bit Of Lateral-Thinking re: "The Fruit Lady" !

Mary said...

Ooo! Good song! And I just read an article on Motown that cited that very tune!
I love that poster CM. Way cool.

You are the ultimate problem solver there. Bringing calm to the streets. True Peacemaker.

tut-tut said...

Praise is reward indeed; what a memory you have. And nine dollars an hour was quite a sum back then.

Squirrel said...

That was smart thinking--the two boxes. If she had shared her jams and been nice, maybe all her neighbors would have given her extra fruit.

You were obviously loved by your employers.

Kurt said...

I love Thom's. That's my old hood. I used to weigh myself on the big scale every time I left.

Georg said...

Hallo Coffee,

You have had variety in your professional life. Somehow I envy you a bit, I've always done the same thing, more or less.

I listened to Harold, thank you. I listened, too, to the bubble guy singing in French. Wonder how he breathed. A miracle?


Megan said...

I was probably there shopping with my aunt more than once while you were working. Shy little girl, long brown hair? :)

I like your handling of the box situation.

Coffee Messiah said...

dcd4e: Hey, I was glad to hook up also. Funny, reflecting on ones work experience.

tony: )

mary: Thanks, I never realized until looking back.

t & t: Was great, because I then started at the paper and started at that rate and went higher from there. Sadly, once I left Ca, those days disappeared. ; (

squirrel: Most of the time, although I now realize the employers were luck to have me ; )

kurt: It's a good thing I never saw you doing that! ; (

georg: Don't envy me, I envy you living in Europe ; ) I'm glad you took a listen. Harold had so many great stories to tell and filled all the time periods that were before me, obviously. And he always laughed, which was great.

megan: Funny you say this, 'cause I remember one girl, who used to come in after school and purchase a granola bar or some kind of bar. One time she came back and apologized because it had some worms crawling in it. She never acted scared or mad, simply matter of fact, and we replaced it. Made me realize that certain bars, well, you know. If that was you, that would be too strange, now wouldn't it?

mouse (aka kimy) said...

I always wondered how many cups of coffee were in a pound of coffee. thanks I love factoids!

your stories of the natural food store made me feel good.

9/hr in 1977 you were racking it in!

I have a feeling that was megan you remember!!

Squirrel said...

wormy granola bars? But you had good customer service anyway. I hate returning things.

I once tried to return a moldy muffin I bought at a NYC deli (10 minutes after buying it) they started giving me a hard time so I turned to the waiting customers and announced quietly that all the muffins were moldy (some people made eeww faces) and I got my money back .

Reya Mellicker said...

Wicket cool version of the song.

I lived at 21st between California and Clement when I first moved to SF in 1985. I don't remember Thom's ... though I should. I was addicted to Green Apple books.

Reya Mellicker said...


Nice typo.

layne (herman) said...

1 pound of coffee equals 40 cups... that is an interesting little fact.

Merle Sneed said...

Ninety percent of the people I meet in the store are great. It is the remaining ten percent that I find fascinating.

R.L. Bourges said...

ha! had a copy of that poster in my kitchen in Florida.

enjoyed the story of how you managed the jam lady.

Unknown said...

I love what you did - a separate box for the fruit lady and "oopsing" on the carrots!
Love the poster!

Coffee Messiah said...

kimy: Remember, give or take a bean or three; ) That store did awesome business and at the end of each year, Thom would have a natural food meal at his house with name tags/beautiful plates and would give each of us an extra $2-300.00 bonus. It was the best place I've ever worked, not so much for the money, but for the positive strokes and noticing your work habits/ethic.

squirrel: It was one of those imported bars and was sitting too near a heat source as I remember and, well the larvae came to life.
One time we had a customer tell us their were bugs of some sort in one of our rice bins. Holey, moley, they were everywhere and had to dump everything out of all the bins. A bag of rice from Viet Nam must have warmed up and hatched those little buggers. I'm very aware of what I choose to eat anymore.

reya: I lived in Pacifica at that time '85. And I may have seen you at Green Apple 'cause other than City Lights and Moes etc in Berkeley, GA was my hangout too. I got coffee and went to Mrs Fields for a couple of chocolate chip cookies too.

layne: Hey, thanks for stopping by. I need to come your way, it's been awhile. ; ( Sorry.

merle: That may be just about right. ; )

rlb: Our posters were the talk, since out here that kind of art was to see in a museum or something.

vanilla: Don't know why, but knew and could tell that some people just were counting pennies but wanted good food. Guess that's why I'm so poor myself, payback ; (

lettuce said...

way to subvert capitalism - nice one.

Coffee Messiah said...

lettuce: And it was not on a conscious level either. I mean, it just seemed the right thing to do, even though it wasn't the right way. A few pennies here and there do add up, but we all knew some elderly had it tougher than others. And that one lady outside, I despised her pushing and shoving the others to attempt to get the better of them. ; )

Megan said...

No, that wasn't me. I'd have been too shy to come back and tell anyone...

Coffee Messiah said...

megan: Ahhh, too bad, that would have been some story ; )

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