Warrior Words: Wilton’s finest continuing education

Wilton High School seniors are some of the busiest creatures on the planet. We’re now the oldest and therefore obviously the most responsible members of the WHS student community.

We are leaders of clubs, captains of sports teams, first chairs in the band, stars of the play. And of course, there is the ever-present looming cloud of doom: the college applications we’ve been poring over, the essays to write, and I swear if I hear the word “supplement” one more time, my head is going to explode.

And, oh, by the way, yes, we’re still high school students and the schoolwork just keeps piling up! Yet somehow, many of us also manage to engage in that other form of continuing education, the local part-time job.

In the world of Wilton commerce, there is no escaping the Class of 2014. Want to find the best jeans on the Gold Coast? You’re bound to run into a senior at Wilton’s own “B” Chic. Going skiing? A WHS Outdoor Sports employee will likely size your boots.

Looking for somewhere to eat dinner with the family? Members of the Class of 2014 will seat you at Marly’s or Little Pub. Who can go without dessert? Only the WHS server at Scoops will satisfy that sweet tooth!

Personally, the Village Market is my home away from home, my supplemental glimpse into the business world.

While the typical WHS day ends with the final toll of the bell at 2:50 p.m., many afternoons I find myself continuing my education for five hours thereafter at the “VM,” that storied Wilton grocery hotspot where I am a proud employee.

Everyone who knows me knows where I work because it’s the topic of almost every conversation I participate in. Though I love to brag about my knowledge of produce codes (Macintosh apples: 4152, broccoli: 135) and aisle locations, it’s the customers I serve that account for most of my interest and chatter.

The things I learn, not only about the town of Wilton but about the shopping habits of its citizens, are fascinating to me. I used to see faces that I had never seen before, yet now I can accurately predict what’s in their carts, whether they want paper or plastic bags, and whether they’ll pay with cash, check, debit, or credit.

Being the last gate between the grocery aisles and the kitchen, I can often warn my friends about their parents’ diabolical plan to serve Brussels sprouts with dinner, or confirm the key items that were purchased, just to reassure them that their parents did, in fact, get the chunky, not the creamy peanut butter.

Thanks to the constant flow of register check-out conversations with the moms of Wilton, I am also able to find out in advance who I shouldn’t expect to see at school the following day because of illness, college visits, or impromptu vacation plans.

I never realized that a position at the register would enable me to become an information clearinghouse, but that’s all part of the continuing education!

Since my shifts are generally five hours long and consist of a fairly repetitive routine, I invent games for myself to keep it from becoming too monotonous.

I try to reinforce the critical thinking skills that I learn during the school day through my analysis of people’s purchases.

For example, I can puzzle through various explanations as to why a certain member of the Wilton Garden Club has a near constant need for lentils, or why the man with the ever-changing wardrobe of college paraphernalia buys two pounds of dog food every day.

It would be logical to conclude that certain people feel passionately about lentil soup or have many excessively hungry dogs, but I prefer to exercise my powers of deduction in more creative ways.

For example, I could make a strong case that one of my most loyal customers is a ninja, and another is secretly the prime minister of Cambodia incognito.

These are just a couple of my best conclusions, as plausible as any other explanations based on the evidence presented and discussed at checkout.

The VM, the most happening place in all of Wilton Center, offers a perfect continuing educational laboratory for the greatest of thinkers and the most zealous of learners: we proud and professional WHS front-of-store cashiers and baggers.

Through the brain and muscle power I put into my job, I reap the most invaluable reward there is. Not simply a paycheck. Real-world scholarship.

Nicole Berg is a senior at Wilton High School. She shares this column with five classmates.