Breaks: A Chain-Store Worker's Heaven

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"My two fifteen-minute breaks, which seemed almost superfluous on the 10:00-6:00 shift, now become a matter of urgent calculation.  Do I take both before dinner, which is usually 7:30, leaving an unbroken two-and-a-half-hour stretch when I'm weariest, between 8:30 and 11:00?  Or do I try to go two and a half hours without a break in the afternoon, followed by a nearly three-hour marathon before I can get away for dinner?  Then there's the question of how to make the best use of a fifteen-minute break when you have three or more urgent, simultaneous needs -- to pee, to drink something, to get outside the neon and into natural light, and most of all, to sit down" (Ehrenerich 163-164)

I've worked as a cashier at my local Target for over a year now and I know all too well how important breaks are, especially when you do have to work the 2-11 closing shift (although at Target, it's on your schedule as 2-10, you just get stuck working an extra hour if you're over 18, but don't get me started on that).  Now at Target, what's nice is that I don't have to think about when to take a break -- whenever my managers tell me to go, I go, unless of course, a random flood of people come in and the managers have to call for back up cashiers, then of course, I have to wait until it slows down again to leave my register, which has sometimes taken almost an hour.  The general rule, at least at my store, if you work 8 hours or more, you get 2 15 minute breaks and a 30 minute unpaid lunch, and we're supposed to take one every 2 hours or so, which is actually really nice.  Of course, you always get those people who end up taking 20-25 minute breaks -- and I confess, I have done that time to time if it's been really slow (or really, really busy).

But breaks are a chain-store worker's little slice of heaven and I completely sympathize with Barbara for trying to figure out how to get the most out of your break as you possibly can, and trying to figure out when is best to take those breaks.  Because your break schedule can really make or break you that day.  I've had to fake a bathroom emergency just to get off of my feet for all of two minutes, and I'm sure lots of other people have too.

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