A deli-counter worker at a Giant Eagle grocery in Ohio has confessed to scarfing down 3-5 pieces of ham (and an occasional slice of salami) each day she worked over her 8 years at the store.
The initial report was that she was being charged with felony theft after the loss prevention manager tallied things up and came up with the figure of $9,200 worth of cold cuts stolen.
The first preposterous thing here is that dollar amount. Even assuming the woman had a liking for higher end-ham like Boar’s Head or Dietz & Watson at $9.99 a pound, well… If there are 16 slices of ham in a pound, that’s $.625 per slice. Take the midpoint of her consumption – 4 slices – and I get $2.50 a day. And if someone works 250 days a year – a reasonable, 50 week assumption – that’s $625 a year in purloined ham. Times 8 years = $5,000 – not $9,200.
Not that $5,000 isn’t a lot of money. It’s just not $9,200.
The second preposterous thing is charging someone with a felony for taking $2.50 worth of ham per shift.
It just seems kind of mean-spirited – ham-handed, even - to charge someone with felony for piggind down a misdemeanor amount of ham per diem. It’s not like she was making off with the entire ham at a shot.
Oh, it all adds up, but it seems to me that what you do in this situation is give a warning to someone that the ham is off limits – not call the cops, which is what the Giant Eagle loss prevention manager did.
Having said this, I suspect I would feel differently about this if the scofflaw had been taking $2.50 a day out of the cash register. Even then, I don’t think I would call it a felony.
Never said I was entirely rational about these things. It’s just that munching on the job - especially given all the food waste that goes on – just doesn’t seem to rise to the level of felony theft. Maybe 2,000 misdemeanors.
Felony means prison time. A serious record. Not voting.
As it turns out, as of a few days ago, no charges had been filed, and it seems as if charges of this magnitude won’t be pressed. It also seems that the woman has parted company with her employer.
Anyway, if munching at the deli counter was such a big deal, it further seems odd that it took the store 8 years to figure out that their employee was consuming a few slices of ham each day. And that was only after a “colleague” ratted her out. (I do hope that the snitch at least had the decency to tell her fellow-worker that eating ham on the job is verboten before they went to loss prevention.)
Admittedly, while it may be bad business behavior to call the cops on someone for eating a few pieces of ham each day, it is, of course, bad business behavior to steal from your employee.
Not that I always saw things quite this way.
While I never worked in a grocery store, I was a waitress, both throughout college and “professionally” after I left school (but before I “found” myself).
I never worked in a restaurant where they didn’t feed you. Which is not to say that you could eat everything on the menu.
At Big Boy’s, I don’t think we could have strawberry pie or hot fudge sauce. I recall that the hot fudge had a burnt taste to it, which leads me to believe that I helped myself to it on at least once occasion. And if I did, I know that I helped myself to more than the portion they doled out when someone ordered a sundae. Barely enough to cover a couple of bites. (They use little white paper cups that were the same ones you took your oral polio vaccine out of. Tiny little cup-eens.)
Anyway, at Big Boys, I’m sure there were other forbidden dishes, but – other than at least one hot fudge sundae – I ate what they let us eat. Which meant I ate a grilled cheese sandwich or BLT every day.
I don’t remember what I ate at The Union Oyster House. It was such a rat hole (literally) I suspect the answer was not much. Sometimes I ate ice cream, but only from a virgin 5 gallon container. One of the dishboys – a fellow known as The Animal – would paw out copious handfuls of ice cream from an open container and slurp it down. Believe me, no one wanted any ice cream after The Animal had his hand in it. I’m guessing that expensive pieces of fish, clams, lobster and oysters were off limits. But no one wanted to eat there, anyway. After work, we all went next door to Tammy’s for beer and pizza.
I do know that when I worked at Durgin-Park, I consumed plenty of forbidden food and bev.
Never the meals – unless you count snacking off a plate of sauteed lobster sitting under the hot lights waiting to be picked up: we all nibbled off that. No, the meals they gave us were fine. We pretty much got our pick of the cheap-o lunch special, and I usually had the scrod or the fried cod (which I doused in stewed tomatoes for some reason). But I did nab sodas, and I did nab Indian Pudding.
When I first worked at Durgin, “the girls” were allowed to have as many (bottled) sodas as we wanted, and the choices were root beer or 7-Up. We all consumed plenty, given that we were sweating to death racing in and out of the un-AC’d kitchen. Then a new rule came down: no more sodas. Which really meant no more root beer. If you put 7-UP in a glass, the owner couldn’t tell if it was water or 7-Up unless he stuck his nose in it. Which he never bothered to do.
Indian Pudding, which they made in vats, was another goody that was allowed one day, forbidden the next. F that! Nothing tastier than a bowl of Indian Pudding with vanilla ice cream. If America Runs on Dunkin, then Durgin-Park ran on Indian Pudding. At least the waitresses did. We all guzzled it down during our afternoon breaks. We had a hidden away station – called the Fox Hole – where we hung out to eat our Indian Pudding, and even had a system of lookouts to warn us if the owner was on the prowl.
Ah, what I wouldn’t give for a bowl of that Indian Pudding right this very moment. Mostly what I wouldn’t give to be 22 again, knowing what I know now.
Perhaps it is this larcenous past that makes me sympathetic for the cold cut thief of Ohio.
I really do hope she doesn’t end up doing time…
Sources: Canton Repository, CleveScene, and my own Bob Woodward level research, including a look through the comments on the Giant Eagle FB page – most of which are anti-Giant Eagle/pro-deli snacker. (Reports vary on whether she was employed for 5 or 8 years, but I didn’t seen the number 5 mentioned until after I’d run my numbers. $9,200 worth of ham over 5 years is even more preposterous than $9,200 worth of ham over 8 years.)