Things I Miss About Working in a Deli

deli service star


A while back, I wrote an article for LA Family Magazine about my experience working in a deli (you can read that here). I worked there about 4 years during my summers and holidays home from college, and briefly after graduation while I searched for a full-time job with my degree. While there were certainly things I don’t miss- including working weekends, smelling like grease when I got home, and the rude customers- I find myself thinking about the fun times quite often lately. With that being said, I’m taking a trip down memory lane and indulging in the nostalgia of my years slicing meat.

I miss how fast the days went by

Even my 8 or 9-hour shifts seemed to go by relatively quickly since I was always so busy. We also got plenty of breaks (legally, if you work a certain amount of hours you are entitled to 30-minute lunch breaks and 15-minute rest breaks throughout the day) which also helped the day move quickly. Even when the store seemed “dead”, there was always cleaning and prepping to do. I find that sitting at a computer all day staring at a clock can make the day go by slowly- no matter how challenging or fun your work may be.

I miss is the interaction with customers

Sure, there were the smelly people whose stench came all the way across the deli counter and the cranky women who barked orders at me, but for the most part, people were nice. I miss the older man who came in weekly and would ask me updates on my boyfriend, job search and life in general. I miss being told which celebrity I look like (90% of the time it was Julia Roberts, 10% was Sandra Bullock) and even being called “Julia” by the aforementioned man. Heck- I even miss the creepy dudes who used to hit on me and make me uncomfortable serving their meat (don’t even try to lie to me- everyone enjoys being hit on once in a blue moon. It makes us feel pretty!)

I sometimes miss the random schedule I had

Although I truly enjoy working 9-to-5 and only having a 20-minute commute currently, I sometimes miss the random schedule I had at the deli. Sometimes I would work morning shifts, allowing me to get home in time to watch The Ellen Show and smile for an hour straight. Sometimes I would work the night shift, so I could soak up the summer sun for an hour or two before getting ready for work. I also worked random days, so sometimes I would have a Wednesday off- which was great for running errands or watching re-runs of Boy Meets World during the day. With a 9-to-5, you have weekends off (which is amazing)- but doesn’t it always seem that it rains on weekends and is beautiful during the week?

What type of work schedule to you have, and do you enjoy it? Or what do you miss most about an old job?


  1. Now I work from 7-4 and love that schedule, when I get home I have enough time to take outfit pics, cook, workout or even run an errand.I don’t really miss my old schedule from my job in college.

  2. I’m currently working part time while looking for a full time job, and I really can’t imagine being nostalgic for it! That being said, I do remember fondly some of the previous part-time jobs that I’ve had, so I think that environment and who your coworkers make a huge difference. That said, I LOVE that I can request random days or weekends off without having to track my vacation. I can plan weekend (or actual) trips whenever I want to! Total perk that I will really miss.

    1. I was in that place, too! I wanted a 9-5 so badly so I would have weekends off. Ultimately, I love having weekends off, but sometimes when the weathers nice I miss having a random Wednesday off 🙂

  3. I work the classic 9-5, Monday to Friday and I’ve had this schedule for over a decade. Before I worked in an office I did shift work in the hospitality industry. If I had to choose, I’d take my current situation. I am a creature of habit and I didn’t like the constant schedule changes. Plus, I like knowing I’ll always have weekends and holidays off.

  4. I was really lucky in my jobs. I worked for the same lady for years and she was like family to me. We would take 2 hour lunch breaks, she’d pay for my work trips (meals included). We worked in wholesale so sometimes we would just close early for the day. It was so nice!

  5. I totally agree that sitting at a desk can make time go by so slow! I worked retail for a little bit 2 years ago and I do miss certain things about it…like ringing up customers on the register but I have to say I don’t miss working random hours and weekends!

  6. Right now I work your standard 9-5 workday job. In college I worked for a catering company. It was less monotonous because the hours and events were always changed up in catering. That made things exciting!

  7. I like how you can find the positives in old jobs! Right now I work a 9-5, which for the most part, I enjoy. But now reading your posts, I agree about the random schedule. Back in high school I worked retail and I liked the random hours and being able to interact… and shop during my breaks, haha. 🙂

  8. I’ve never really thought about this! I’ve been with the same company since college (and interned at the same place during school) so I can’t really compare to anywhere else, but I do sometimes miss the days when I was in a real 9-5 role and didn’t have work to do at night/ on weekends!

  9. Haha, this post made me laugh! I do tend to miss things about my old job at Coldstone… not so much the singing, but there were some very nice people that came in. And yes, sometimes I got hit on, which was slightly embarrassing, but who doesn’t love a compliment every once in awhile! I once saw a guy out n’ about that hit on me and when he saw me he said “COLDSTONE GIRL” lol

  10. The only thing I miss about my old retail job is the (positive) interaction with people. i also miss getting to dress mannequins and displays as well as finding things on sale while cleaning up (99 cent shirts? Yes, please).

  11. I worked in a retail beauty store only one summer, so my experience is limited, but I did enjoy being on my feet and not sitting on my booty all day! Plus when the store was slow, we’d sneak to the back and give ourselves manicures. 🙂

  12. I haven’t worked in a deli but I worked in retail during college and I can completely agree with all of your points. Especially the random schedule – being able to get my hair done on a weekday morning or afternoon when it’s the least busy in my salon, and little things like that were the best!

  13. Like you I work a 9 to 5 which is great but i found that i missed the interaction with people and so I took on a second job at a place I love and where shifts go by so quickly – at COACH! I love that it transports me from my everyday life and I get to indulge in great bags too.

  14. Fun memories! My first job ever was scooping ice cream at Haagen-Dazs. The long lines of customers during the summers were terrible, but it was really fun making chocolate dipped ice cream bars and waffle cones and whipping up frosting for the ice cream cakes!

  15. Such great memories!! You do look like Julia! Can I start calling you Julia?:) When I did the Old Navy event a few weeks ago it really made me miss managing at Banana Republic. Weird, how that works out! I even got offered a job…I think I’ll keep my day job of being a full time mom for now.

  16. I had a similar schedule when I worked retail one summer during college – it was nice sometimes to be able to enjoy the day off mid-week or to work the morning shift and have your afternoon off! Fun memories! x

  17. Love this post! I’m sure you can make a mean sandwich! I work between 40-60 hours a week and I start at 5:45am so I long for the days where I worked retail or food service. I miss having night shifts because I want the day to run errands or just sleep in!

  18. I miss the random hours/changing schedule of my college job too, sometimes. It was nice having either a morning free or sometimes just working at night. 9-5 makes me feel a little overwhelmed and like I have almost no time to get things done in the evenings!

  19. Cute post! During high school I was a gymnastics instructor. I instructed alongside one of my friends so it was always fun! I think what I miss most is the lack of stress…while supporting myself now provides a great feeling of independence, it’s also stressful at times. Your post made me think of my sister, actually. She’s a physician now, but always jokes about how she misses her days at Jamba Juice making smoothies 🙂

  20. To be honest I’ve had similar thoughts. My first job was being a bagger, then I changed two different stores till I ended up with Deli at Bi-Lo in Charotte, NC… this was my longest part-time job but ultimately I had to move on due to the low pay and I needed to move out. I went into the military for 7 years, and strangely I’d have dreams over the years about the job. Typically I’d dream about how I couldn’t find some meat or whatever…

    Anyways.. onto the job…

    I miss the customer interaction over my 6ish years in the grocery business… even being a bagger… I liked particularly busy stores with regular customers who kept coming back… they’d pile up there cart and I’d try my hardest to make sure nothing was crushed and everything fit back into one cart. I busted my butt mopping the entire store.

    As a Deli Clerk it was also that customer interaction and occasional compliments how good a job me and another co-worker were doing (she closed with me often, how I miss her)… I was often tasked with the laborious task of closing the department (sometimes on my own, although that was rare).. and getting assigned the task of unloading a incoming frozen or non-frozen delivery truck because no stocker was on schedule.

    I took pride in keeping my slicers clean for the customers, and making sure they got exactly what they wanted and how thick they wanted… I also took pride in being able to know how each area of the deli worked.. I could prep the baking for example although that wasn’t a original responsibility. I knew all the numbers for the products by heart when pricing them… know how to rotate products.. even know the intricacies about certain cheeses and how they might clog up a slicer or slow it down… or how I’d make the premade salads and yes put pride in making them look good (some of the others who slap it together haphazardly…)

    There was one customer, a older man (40s? maybe) who said his wife had cancer and he was the only care-taker for her and his kids and was looking for discounts. He usually came when I was closing the department and was going to toss the unused hotbar items anyways. It wasn’t strictly in my decision to make… but who cares… I always gave him like two bags on chicken or whatever else was left at dirt cheap prices like 25 cents a bag… and little plastic cases of mac-n-cheese for around 10 cents… the front end never gave me any heck about him they probably knew about him to.. I hope he is ok out there….

    Regardless I had to move on, probably could have stayed and tried to work things out… but management killed it for me in there resistance to make me full time… and when they hired another rehire PT and paid him more than me… and he was not nearly as fast or good a worker.

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