I was telling a customer this afternoon about some (just some) of the funny, eccentric, irreverent, sweet exchanges I had had with customers on just this one day. He said, “That’s how we keep going.” I felt totally understood. I said, “That’s it – I’m going to write a blog post about this and that’s going to be the title, ‘How we keep going’.” It’s probably true that “you had to be there”. In the written word, none of these exchanges may be as funny as they were real time – and manic – but they may give you some idea of the kinds of things that keep us going, at Earth Fare and maybe at any retail job.
- The 65ish woman holds up the wrapped package from the meat department and playfully says, “I almost walked out without paying for this.” I, more playfully, say “I would have chased you down and tackled you.” She, with a big twinkle in her eye, says “Maybe I should do it.”
- The young woman, trying to puzzle her way through all the steps of the keypad, says ”I think I just screwed this all up…no, I think it’s going to be all right.” I say “Everything’s gonna be alright.” I break into song, “Don’t worry…” She misses just three bars before joining in “…about a thing” and we continue to sing, to reach other as, with her transaction successfully complete, she heads for the door “cuz every little thing gonna be alright.” It was an exceptionally sweet moment – so perfect that, relating it here, I tear up.
- This guy picks up an item from the “impulse purchase” rack next to my cash register. “Is this Spry gum good for you?” “Everything in the store is good for you – including the Coca Cola.” I love it that we consider the “Mexico Coke” healthy because it has real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. Sometimes when someone is buying a bottle, I will hold it up and proudly proclaim: “It’s health food! It’s got sugar!”
- This guy says “Your card is on our frig – I think my wife has plans to read your blog, maybe someday.” I assume she has the card from this grocery store blog and give him the card from my activism blog (releasingtheforce.com). “Here, you can add this to the collection.”
- I know the guy who hesitates with his cart at the head of my empty line. “Are you ready to check out?” “I’ve got to get one other thing.” “Well your time is up – you have to leave now.”
- I know the six year old girl riding in her mother’s shopping cart. As they pull by me to leave, she asks if I have any stickers. “Gee honey, I’m sorry but I don’t.” When they get several steps away, I’m moved to call out “I’m still a nice man!” Without hesitating or turning around, she calls out “I know you are.”
- My shift is over and I am organizing my stuff at the front end to go home. One of my colleagues asks, in front of several customers, “Are you going home?” I say, “Yes, because I can’t stand it any more!” It’s part play, part for real – and really kind of thrilling to say.