The Cross The Weekly:What makes you get up in the morning?
Valerie Hesperies: On days when I’m off, accompanying my 16-year-old daughter to high school and enjoying her presence. On other days, it’s the prospect of going to work that gets me out of bed. I love my job, I love the relationship with customers.
I think I’m a very open person, and since our store is a convenience store, bonds are created with customers. Some regulars even call us by our first name. As I am versatile, I really feel that I am useful to my company. For twenty-nine years that I have worked in this supermarket, I have known it under several signs, I have seen ten managers pass by, it has not always been easy with them, but I am still there.
At work, how is it going?
V. H. : The day starts at 7 a.m. At that time, with the colleagues, we have an hour and a half beat before the opening. We are all obligated to do everything. Shelving, price updates, storage…
Whatever happens, even though I’m the second assistant to the director, I always get my hands dirty. When a pallet arrives to undo, I can handle cash as well as groceries. But my priority mission is the fruit and vegetable department, which must be impeccable. The products have to be beautiful because it’s the first ray you see when you arrive in the store. It is he who must attract the customer, to make him want to go further.
Among my other tasks, there is the preparation of “short-dated” products, as we say in our jargon, that is to say whose use-by date is approaching. To avoid loss and waste, we are selling them at -30%. If there are still any left at the end of the day (we close at 8 p.m.), they are made available in the Too Good To Go app. for these products. It’s a way for them to be able to eat meat, fruit, vegetables, even a little withered.
Who do you trust?
V. H. : In my colleagues. We are a small team, four people, plus students who work weekends. We get along well. If there is the slightest dispute, we have the intelligence to talk about it to resolve the conflicts. This is important when working in a small committee. I also trust my family: my daughter, my lover. They are always there for me.
A scene that marked you recently?
V. H. : From all my years of experience, I remember scenes with dissatisfied customers, who sometimes insult us, reproach us for the rise in prices. People who, when they see us arriving on a shelf with our barcode reader, say to us: “Oh no, you’ve come to change the labels again! »
More recently, I see customers putting down a product – even a first prize! – outside of their basket, because the total of the races exceeds the planned budget. When we are challenged, we explain that the purchase price for the stores is increasing and that it is necessary to pass them on to the selling price.
But it is true that inflation is impressive. As a customer, I see it too. In the hypermarket near my home, until now, to make my husband’s midday snack, I used to buy old-fashioned ham: €4.90 for 4 slices. Well the last time, the same ham was displayed at… €8.85! I had to switch to another brand. Life isn’t necessarily easy right now for people. And you never know what unforeseen events will fall on you: the car that needs to be repaired, the fridge that fails… it can put a strain on your budget!
Something that would change your life right now?
V. H. : In my work, specifically, I would like order pickers to be more delicate and stop placing heavy products on fragile products. They’ll put potatoes on strawberries for me; a box of charcuterie on the sandwich bread. It crushes the product underneath and it makes a mess when you unpack the boxes. But more broadly, no, I don’t want to change anything, I’m content with my little life.
And for tomorrow, an idea to change the world?
V. H. : Take care of children’s education. Don’t give up, don’t quit, never sacrifice your family for your work by leaving the kids to raise themselves. Many of the young people who work with us in the internship have difficulty with authority, do not accept orders, speak badly to us. It really saddens me. I wonder what difficulties await them in their future professional life… I worry about their future.
At 52, Valérie Hesperies has “almost 30 years of boxing! » Initially, however, she did not think of digging her furrow in mass distribution. After a literary baccalaureate, she rather seeks to become an executive secretary. Except that no company agrees to take it. On the other hand, she landed a small job in the supermarket of Pithiviers, her hometown. The young girl shows herself to be motivated, capable of initiative, versatile. She is hired.
In 2017, her director at the time offered her to become his assistant. Since then, his schedule has been staggered: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on certain weeks. 2 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. others. With sometimes days of 7 am to 8:15 pm. Which make him savor his moments of rest all the more.