Working at Wawa

Bless me blogosphere, for I have sinned. It has been more than three weeks since my last blog-fession. I made a conscious effort to lay low this month. After putting my Chromebooks site on pause, I wanted to hit my personal “reset” button. So I did until now.

That offline time gave me a chance to think through some personal challenges. And one of them, a reduced income, is now sorted out. At least to a point. Earlier this month, I got a part-time position at my local Wawa, less than one mile from my house.

I'm a Wawa Customer Service Associate

What’s a Wawa?

Folks on the east coast of the US, particularly in the mid-Atlantic region can skip this section. You already know what Wawa is.

For everyone else: Wawa is a privately owned chain of convenince and fuel stores with roughly 1,000 retail locations and 45,000 employees. The company is celebrating the 60th anniversary of its first store opening this April. And it plans expansion to more states to broaden its footprint.

My Wawa store

In many small town locations (like mine), Wawa is a very community-driven experience. Here in Harlesyville, PA, Wawa is where you bump into friends and neighbors all the time. There’s a seating area in my store and it’s not uncommon to see groups randomly meet up, sit and chat for a spell.

I think of Wawa like the bar in “Cheers”, where everybody knows your name. Instead of serving liquor though, Wawa serves lots of coffee, snacks, soups, sandwiches, pretzels, and other grab-and-go consumables. Here’s the menu of offerings if you’re curious. Our store does sell beer as well, which is relatively new.

I find the Wawa story impressive. You can read a brief but full history here. And as far as the name? “Wawa” is a native American word for the Canadian Goose, which is the logo of the company. The corporate offices are in Wawa, PA as well.

My job has nothing to do with technology

Here’s where my update may get a little surprising. I’m not blogging for Wawa or running their social media campaigns. I have nothing to do with their computer network, the touchscreen ordering kiosks or the Wawa mobile app.

Instead, I started at Wawa on the bottom rung of the ladder as a Customer Service Associate. My main role is part of the “Facilities” crew.

It's cold in the cooler!

What does that mean? Here’s what I do:

🗑️ Empty all of the inside and outdoor trash cans as needed.
📦 Break down all of the cardboard boxes from product receipt for recycling.
⛽️ Ensure the gas pumps are working and have receipt paper. I also refill the wiper fluid and paper towels at the pumps.
🧃 Hop in the 30-degree cooler to restock all of the dairy, soda, water and other drink products.
🧹 Vacuum, sweep and mop the floors as needed.
💩 Clean the bathrooms and monitor that cleanliness throughout the day.
🌨️ Keep the outside walkways clean. This includes distributing rock salt when it snows like it did last week.

Surprised by the role? Me too! But it’s role that was open when I walked down to my local Wawa and asked if they were hiring.

It’s also a role that’s expanding. Last week I learned how to make and keep the coffee flowing during a morning rush. I was also trained on making made-to-order drinks. And next week I start register training, which leaves only the Deli / Snacks area left to learn. So I’ll be floating around as needed when not handling my Facilities duties.

Working at Wawa solves multiple problems for me

The obvious immediate benefit of working part-time at Wawa is the income. Typically, the company starts people at $15 an hour. I’m a bit more “seasoned” than most potential new hires, and was offered $17 an hour. I’ll be up for review and potentially a pay boost after 60 days.

I asked for 20-25 hours a week and have been working 24 weekly hours. However, I’m on the schedule for 28 hours next week and 32 the week after that. I guess they’re happy with me so far?

On a related note: After taxes, my first weekly paycheck was more than what my Chromebooks site earned all last month. I’d still like to be taking home around $2,500 monthly to cover expenses but this is a start.

I’m also getting much more exercise and movement now that I’m working at Wawa. I’ve been sitting on my backside for most of the past 18 years as a blogger, so this is a good thing. Maybe too much of a good thing though.

I’m averaging between 7 and 8 miles of movement during a typical 8 hour shift. My feet and back are sore. So much so that I often finish my 6am to 2pm shift by coming home to nap until 5pm. The soreness is lessening as my body gets used to the movement. But it’s still an adjustment for me.

Looking at my step count for the month, it’s pretty obvious which days are my work days:

Daily step count

Lastly, I’m not sitting alone in a home office any longer. I am out and about with the people in my community. I’m having actual in-person conversations with customers. People are thanking me for making the coffee because… well, Wawa is a happy place and most people enjoy the positive environment!

Am I out of tech for good?

I’m still coding and writing in my down time, so I’m not completely away from technology. In just a few weeks I cruised through a Python course after work just to learn something new. This is basically a temporary, part-time development to help pay the bills, get more exercise and gain some social interaction.

Then again, Wawa does have a fanatistic ESOP plan as the company is 40% owned by the employees. Management opportunities are off the charts as the chain expands into new areas. The benefits are fantastic if you average 30 hours weekly. So, who knows?

At this point, I’m taking things one day at a time. I’m giving Wawa 100% of my effort when I’m on the clock. I’m boosting my technical skills when I’m off the clock. And frankly, I’m much happier than I was just a month or two ago. It’s a win all-around! Well, save for a little physical soreness as I get older. 😉