Sunday, October 26, 2008

Time for the annual Cider Story

Cider is evil. Did you know that? Sure, it looks innocent, a rich, brown nectar sitting there on the shelf in clear plastic jugs, beckoning the unwary. But deep in its dark soul lurks dastardly and terrifying plots!

Okay, maybe not. But I am paranoid about cider, as everyone who works with me comes to find out each fall when the yearly pallet of Louisburg Apple Cider arrives in the store. But there is a reason for my paranoia, and it is this:

The first autumn I worked at Walmart I spilled 47 gallons of apple cider.

Actually, I didn't spill it. It spilled itself at me. I just got to clean it up. In the Walmart "spills and hazardous waste training module" it says that "spill in excess of 10 gallons are considered too big to be cleaned up by store employees". Don't you believe it! See, it happened like this:

We have a walk-in produce cooler that's about eight feet wide and about twelve feet deep, with wide steel shelving lining both sides. When the shelves are full, the excess is stored on wooden pallets down the center of the cooler, and there is almost always at least one pallet full of freight in the cooler. (Sometimes there are as many as three. If we get slammed with more than that we have to take over the meat prep room which is unpleasant because then we have to kidnap Glen, who bitches about it, and tie him up in the Culligan water softener cage. We'd take over the deli cooler, but those deli girls are just scary!)

Well, the first fall I worked produce we had a pallet full of cider against the back wall. The cider was stacked seven cases high with four one-gallon plastic jugs per case and we were down to two rows of cider with other things on the front of the pallet. None of us were aware that the bottom cases had gotten wet and that the only thing holding up the cider stacked against the wall on the left side was the stack in front of it. I took the cider from that stack out to fill the floor display, came back and the entire stack had collapsed. The cooler floor was littered with busted jugs, sopping cardboard and approximately 24 gallons of apple cider.

Obviously, I couldn't clean up the mess with the pallet in the way. I got a pallet jack (sort of a manual fork lift) and very carefully pulled the pallet out into the produce area in front of the door. I successfully maneuvered it past the floor drain right outside the cooler, swivelled it slowly and set it down ever so gently.

And POW! Another stack of cider went over!

That's how I spilled 47 gallons of apple cider. Two years have passed since then with no other major mishaps (we did have a couple of jugs explode last year, but that's only to be expected). I still don't trust the stuff, though. I know it's just sitting there . . . watching . . . biding its time . . . .

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