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Pet Product News Editorial Blog:

March 12, 2012

Chivalry: Not Dead Yet

By Elizabeth Creith


Every Wednesday between 4:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., I get a reminder that—appearances to the contrary—I'm still a fragile little flower of femininity. That's when the dog food order comes in.

Dog food is a big item in pet stores, and I'm not just talking about sales volume. There's precious little else sold in 30- to 40-pound weights in one big chunk. Oh, sure, we have some customers who place orders for whole bags of parrot pellets or cockatiel seed, but those happen only every three or four months. Besides, when they come to get their order they usually come with their own muscle in the form of a teenaged son or nephew, bulging with an adolescent rush of testosterone, strong as an ox and about as articulate.

Dog food customers are different. Yes, some of them carry their own, but when they can't, they don't bring muscle. That 98-pound senior citizen is not going to be slinging a third of her weight in lamb-and-rice-for-sensitive-stomachs over her shoulder; she expects carry-out service. We do have a Carry-Out Boy, aka David, but he's in great demand in the information department. That means that about fifty percent of the time it's me who is Carry-Out Girl.
I'm not complaining about this job. I've learned how to hoist the big bags from floor level and get them over my shoulder without hurting myself. Dog kibble, in its relatively stiff bags, is a lot easier to lift than a slippery, supple feed sack of finch seed. (Say that three times fast!) Most dog food customers are also considerate about either pulling up in front of the store or parking in the first row of the parking lot.

knight in shining armor

David isn't bothered by my having to sling dog food. In fact, since I place the dog food orders, it's my job to be there when they arrive and to help unload so I can check for damaged bags or order errors.

Enter Mike, who drives the delivery transport for the dog food company. Mike is a sweet guy who has a very large blind spot; he believes that I will hurt myself if I try to carry anything heavier than about 15 pounds. I know it's a large blind spot, because I'm a big woman, but somehow Mike has arrived at the conclusion that I'm too petite and feminine to be permitted to ease a 30-pound bag of Special Cockapoo Blend from the shoulder-height tailgate of his transport onto my own shoulder.

"Don't hurt yourself, hon!" he exclaimed the first time he caught me at it, and snatched the bag away from me. "You carry the little ones. I'll get these." The little ones are 15 pounds. I'm not allowed to carry more than one at a time, and even then Mike keeps an eye on me.

"You shouldn't let her carry those big bags," he's said to David.

Obediently, David does not let me carry the big bags—as long as Mike is around. To be fair, he does carry-out if he's free. The thing is, many of our customers believe that only David can properly reveal the mysteries of chinchilla housing or the sordid details of stick-insect sex. He'll be in the midst of that when someone wants 40 pounds of Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Special Respiratory Blend. Then guess who's back on deck?

So six days a week I'm a big, strong capable woman. I don't mind that at all. Still, there's something really kind of sweet about that half-hour every Wednesday afternoon with Mike. I like it. And I'll confess that I still reach for that first 30-pound bag just to hear his warning cry.

"Don't hurt yourself, hon!"

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