Kroger Experience in Warren MI

Today is Good Friday, 2017. Even not having been brought up in the Catholic faith, I feel that today is a good time to make a public confession. Something I knew was wrong, yet I persisted and completed doing.

William, my twin, (though only minutes younger than I,) was an exemplary second little brother. He had total respect for me as his older brother; my responsibility was to help and watch out for him in all circumstances. We lived this relationship from birth until his unexpected tragic death from a ‘berry aneurysm’ in May of 1976.

After having committed to begin my medical career at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine on the day after Labor Day, 1962, I had a free summer to do as I wished. By this time, my Dad had accepted the position of parish pastor at a church in Mt Clemens, MI. Although I had a full tuition scholarship at Johns Hopkins, I still had to assume the cost of living expenses and books and supplies. I had worked at Springfield City Hospital in the pharmacy department, delivering medications to the floor nurses so I decided to apply for a similar position at a bigger hospital, Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. I was hired, 9-5, but they paid only $1.00/hour. I accepted it to gain experience. Since I was used to working long hours of having two or three jobs simultaneously, I looked for a supplemental night position. Lo and behold, there was a Kroger Grocer in Warren, MI in need of a night stocker with experience. I had worked at Fulmer Grocer in Springfield for five years, so l was experienced. With five years experience, I would be paid $3.90 per hour, but if I had 5 years with Kroger, (like William had) the pay rate would be $5.75. Thus I filled out the form stating that my name was William Franklin Chu and used William’s Social Security and all other pertinent information. The manager asked if he could call Springfield Kroger; I gave him the number and the names of both the manager and his assistant. I informed William that I had done this and that he’d be paying more taxes. He was at this time working at Ford Motor as an extern, finishing his BS in Metallurgical Engineering at the OSU. He assured me that for the difference in pay, he would do the same, and not to worry about anything.

The manager called to see when I could start because my reference checked out glowingly saying that if he had 3 of those Chinese boys, he would have the entire store covered. I told him I was available to do 7pm to 7am Monday – Friday until the last week of August. He had me start right away.

At first, been keenly aware to listen for being called William caused no problem; and work was routine, tiresome, but hey, look at the financial reward. However, soon after I forgot my name was William and began ignoring being called to check this price of this or that item. So I fibbed, explaining that I was hard of hearing in one ear. But that back-fired because I was mixing them up!

One day, after a hard day at Henry Ford, I came home and took a power nap. Mom woke me at 6:20, fed me and I took a quick shower. It was also a hot and muggy night. I put on a tee shirt and a pair of shorts and ran out the door with only my keys. As I was driving William’s car to Kroger, there was a robbery of a local bank with the getaway car similar to his white Ford Falcon. The police asked for my ID and driver’s license. Of course I was caught empty handed. The information in the glove compartment were all registered to William, but I already told the policeman that I was Franklin. The rule as I understood it in MI was that driving without a license meant spending a night in jail.

After a prolonged discussion, the policeman discovered indeed that they had stopped the wrong car, and that I was expected at Kroger’s but my name was William, not Franklin. Then I explained that I am really William Franklin Chu, but I preferred to be called Franklin, but at the store I had told them to call me William. I stressed the fact that tomorrow, Saturday, was going to be a big shopping day, and that the customers are totally dependent on my working and stocking that night. I volunteered to check in at the county jail Saturday night for my punishment. To my surprise, the police agreed and commanded me to be at jail at 7 pm.

I went to work and was reprimanded for been late. I apologized and promised to make up the lost time. At about 5 am, the night manager came to me and told me that he was just told of a ‘surprised’ inspection next Monday. Since after Saturday, the store was going to look like a total mess, he would need me to work all Saturday night and possibly part of Sunday at double pay to get the store in shape for inspection. I begged to be excused because I had previous commitments, but he would have nothing of it. Basically he said show up or ‘You’re Fired.’

As I worked the rest of the shift, I was pondering that I really had only 3 more weeks of working, and I was getting very exhausted. Perhaps I’d just quit instead of getting fired. But due to loyalty, I also wanted the store to have an exceptional inspection score. Thus I planned to propose working from 5 pm Sunday until 7 am Monday and offered not to get overtime pay to complete the task. I sought out the manager to speak with him.

After I finished, suddenly the front door opened and in walked the policeman that stopped me with fresh coffee for the Kroger night manager. They are brothers!! The police asked his brother, so what other out-of the-box proposals did he come up with to get out of work tonight?

Because of my diligence and efficiency in stocking the shelves, making them look pleasing and appealing to customers, they let me finish working the rest of the summer and I checked in to the jail at 7 pm Saturday and was release 1 minute after midnight Sunday having served my time of driving without carrying my license with me.