- Tall, slender 60ish woman customer says, “My senior discount is being cut to one day a week.”
- Me “Yes – has anybody explained it to you?”
- “Let me try.” I say something that includes stuff like, “It’s a fairness issue. Teachers and students keep wondering why they just get one day. Young people and single parents and nurses and firefighters ask why they don’t get a discount. We’re not getting rid of the senior discount – and most of our competition does not have one. Will you be able to come shop on Monday?”
- This particular customer may have been a ringer. She brightened right up. “I understand. It’s alright. I have no problem with it.” There were others who were also this philosophical about a reduction in their discount – but not all.
- Short, stocky 60ish female customer is next up in line, hears me telling the guy in front of me about the wisdom discount being reduced to one day a week – and our intention to try to keep prices low for everybody. She explodes, “Low prices my butt. I found a bottle of salad dressing that’s twice as much as it sells for at Ingles. They don’t care about seniors – they only care about the bottom line.” The intensity of her vitriol set me back – and I think also shook up the customers on either side of her.
I wasn’t looking forward to a direct encounter with her – but she totally surprised me. When it was her turn, she said, “OK, I got my bitching out of my system” – and was totally pleasant to deal with. I may have been a wimp to not bring up the topic of discounts – maybe it would have gone fine – but i was happy just to have it be alright between us.
- This big 50ish guy made the whole day for me. When I explained about the military discount being reduced from 10 to 5% and going to one day a week – really a much bigger hit than the wisdom discount – he clearly didn’t like the news, but when he started shaking his bundle of swiss chard in my face he had a twinkle in his eye like he knew all this was pretty funny. “I don’t like this – I don’t like this a bit.”
- Me – to the people right behind him in the line: “You saw it folks – he menaced me with those greens.”
- The guy behind him: “I saw water flying off the chard right onto your glasses.”
- The woman behind that guy: “I thought that at any moment it could move to direct physical contact with swiss chard. Then what would happen?”
- My upset customer: “Sometimes these big corporations just push you too far and you have to take a stand.”
- By this point we all were having a good time, clearly entertaining ourselves and each other.
This scenario brought home a truth underlying this whole discount drama: at the end of the day, we are all just people playing out our various roles. It’s a dance we’re doing together – at any moment any of us could play different roles in the same dance. There really is not a them vs. us. In a very real way, it is all just us.