Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Grocery Store Employees Are People Too.

We all know that my opinion is generally not the popular one, so read this and know that I'm speaking in generalities, and that I don't want you to agree with me, that is not the point of this rant. All I want is to add another perspective to the mix. 

I just got back from the grocery store at 11 pm on a Wednesday, and I had a thought that goes something like this:

Lately I've had no less than too many conversations with people who are up in arms about retail stores being open on Thanksgiving. With my opinion of that aside, I find it interesting that people are upset about retail stores opening, but I've never once heard someone be upset that the grocery store is open on Thanksgiving. Never once has someone said "Dammit, I hate that Winco is open until 4 pm on Thanksgiving, those people should be spending time with their families!"

It seems that it's ok for the grocery store to be open on Thanksgiving, those people should be there, but it's not ok for places like JC Penney or Best Buy to open on the night of Thanksgiving.

I have a theory it's ok for the grocery store to be open because they have food, which is what Thanksgiving is really about. (I don't buy into the whole "spend time with your family" part; let's face it, we all go to relatives houses to eat too much food, watch football, and argue.) There are things there that you need, not things you want. No one says anything about how grocery store employees should be at home with their families, because it's convenient for us that they are open on the biggest feast day of the year.

I have spent the last 6 years doing IT support for grocery stores, and let me tell you something- these grocery employees have no problem treating us like shit so you have a smooth and quick transaction at the store buying $300 of groceries for one day. These people have no problem letting us know that Thanksgiving is the busiest day of the year and that EVERY single register MUST be up and running by the Wednesday before. It's almost as if we aren't aware of what real life is and that everything revolves around them getting what they want so you, the customer, doesn't have a hard time checking out.

As stated above I just got back from the grocery store at 11pm on a Wednesday. Now I want it to be known that I always shop late at night. Partly cause I'm a night person and partly cause I don't like huge crowds of people. I like when there's 11 customers in the store, not when there's several hundred and I get mad at every kid who's crying and screaming and running in front of me and blocking the aisles when all I want is a flippin box of cereal! I digress. As I was at the store tonight there were TONS of people. I mean take my regular 11 customers and multiply it by whatever a lot more of that is, and that is how many people were there. And you no what? All of the workers there were friendly. The guy at the self checkouts was thanking every single customer and telling them happy Thanksgiving. The poor stockers had to run around way too many people to get their jobs of making sure there is food on the shelves for us to stuff into our faces later done. The managers were ringing up customers because it was so busy and that is what good managers do. You know what I saw though? I saw a lot of people who were frustrated they had to wait in line so long to check out. They were upset they had to be at the store the night before Thanksgiving and every register wasn't open. They were annoyed there was a line for the self checkouts. And none of them, not one person, told the cashier who was telling them happy Thanksgiving the same thing. He was making sure people were getting their bagging errors cleared in a timely manner, calling customers to the front so they were aware registers were open, having a positive attitude while having to work late on the busiest night of the year eve, and not one person took the time to at least tell him happy Thanksgiving.
I finished bagging my groceries, and it hit me that I should thank this guy. He's here working when he could be at home spending time with his family, with the wife and 3 kids I imagine him having, playing with his dog and dreading having to see his in-laws tomorrow; but he's not. He's at work, trying to make my experience as pleasant as it could be. That's pretty damn selfless, and I appreciate that. I am a huge fan of positive reinforcement, so as weird as it might have seemed, I looked at him and said "hey man, thank you for working tonight. I know it's not easy or fun, but I appreciate it."
At first he looked at me like a freak, like "ugh, what?" but then he got a smile on his face and said "thank you." I very rarely pay attention to the cashiers at the store, and I don't know why tonight I felt like doing it. I also don't think it really did anything for this guy, he forgot who I was and what happened 6 seconds after the fact, but I just wanted him to know for that split second that what he's doing matters, even if it seems minimal to most.

Maybe instead of being up in arms about how retailers are opening on Thanksgiving and trying to tell each other not to shop on that day, or Black Friday, (something I won't be doing myself, but I'm not gonna tell you what to do, you're your own person) we should spend a little more time thanking the cashier at the grocery store for working on a holiday, and for being away from their families, and for working on a day when many people think they should be sitting at home with their pants unbuttoned cause they ate too much food, hating the Cowboys and fighting with their family members. Instead of sitting back and telling people why they shouldn't do something, why not do something yourself and try to make someone smile. And try to remember, Amor Vincit Omnia-- Love Conquers All.