The Kind Grocery Store Manager
To me, the word “kind” is synonymous with the role of grocery store manager. From the time I was a little bitty girl, I have always found the grocery store a friendly place. Growing up, we went each afternoon to Englewood Market, a family owned grocery in my hometown of Rocky Mount, NC. Every day we browsed the small but fruitful space and debated on what to have for dinner that evening, pestered our mother for cereal other than Wheaties or Raisin Bran, and often collected a dog bone from the butcher. Why we went every day is beyond my comprehension but we did and it was good.
Though I traverse the grocery store as little as possible in my career as an adult, I still find the familiar faces kind and courteous. My littlest person, Amos, with his extra special needs makes the grocery store a torturous experience. He will not ride in the cart, will not walk in the direction I am going, and so, I generally try to get through as quickly as possible and convince him not to open every item we have placed in the cart.
One particular day I had him sequestered in the cart (he usually can last through the fruit and veggies section.) Though he was sitting and I had brought a bag of goldfish, he could not help but yelp for fresh green grapes, a bite of a green apple, and finally a banana of which he ate the whole thing. My older son was horrified with this scene and my next son was quite sure Amos would be labeled a thief and we were certain to be in deep you know what. Perhaps I was too lackadaisical or maybe just worn out, especially with four children on a Monday afternoon at the grocery store, but I was too done to protest.
As we were checking out at the only grocery store in Edenton, a newly designed Food Lion, the manager came up smiling brightly and asked how we found everything. This same man would be smart to avoid me, but he never does despite the fact that I am usually badgering him to get me organic milk by the gallon. No, he was friendly as always and I felt an obligation to speak as my older three children shuffled nervously. My youngest Amos had some fruit, I told him. He is really tough and though he’s almost three, he has some special needs and the grocery store tends to annoy him. That being said, I disclosed he had a banana and some grapes and “he wasted an apple,” my daughter chimed in loudly.
Though I didn’t expect him to rant and rave, nor did I expect the smile and easy words that flowed out before he had even had a chance to ponder how to appropriately respond. “He’s welcome to as many bananas as he likes and apples too. I’m glad he’s here.” Thank you, I told him. Thank you for that, I thought. I needed to feel like we were welcome in the world that day and his kind offer was, well, just so very kind. “That man’s nice,” my daughter said. “Yes, he really is,” I replied. He really is.