You're probably as familiar with the faces of the girls at the registers at your local supermarket as you are with your best friend's mug, and it's to one of them you'll bring the fixings for your homemade lunch for check out. Stacy James, age 24, loves to help her customers at Met Supermarket, though she's aiming to help those who need it more.

“I’ve been working for Met Food for six years. My sister, she works at the bank that they send their money to. So she talked to the manager at Met about giving me a job and I was hired the next day.

“I like the job: basically I know all the girls because we grew up together on the lower east side and half of them worked here already when I came. We just have that nice relationship.

“I like working with money and the customers and learning how to do deposits. You know, it's been a learning experience: like learning to being nice to people and try to have a good attitude and be intelligent and try to talk to people, try to help people. I learned my fruits, and my vegetables because of Met Food-- you know, half of the things I didn’t know.

“The customers come here everyday and I see them all the time and we got the kind of relationship where they can say, like, ‘Stacy! I left my money upstairs. It's cold outside!’ and I say, ‘Don’t worry about it, tomorrow I'll see you.’ They really like me and I really like them and they help me and whatever they need, I help them

“My bosses, they’re very generous and they'll give homeless people a sandwich and a soda. You don’t even have to steal; it's like, ‘Don’t steal! Just ask and you'll get it!’ But people steal anyway. One time I actually had to chase somebody stealing firewood -- and I'm running after him to tell him to stop because he was actually a customer: a nice, good customer! So I'm running after him and I'm telling him to stop and the fireman who actually come into shop, they helped me chase him and he just dropped the firewood and ran off. I haven't seen him since.

“But my dream is to enroll myself in a school for children's aid programs. I used to work with children before I started working with Met Food, in a Counselor-In-Training program. My mom works for Welfare for the City of New York and so she has a way with kids and I just want to work with kids, with like Child Welfare. I'd like doing that.”

©Zina Saunders 2006-2014

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