Recently, when a new supermarket opened right around the corner, I was thrilled. Opening Day, with all its bells and whistles, held the promise of the store being my new favorite. The parking lot has been packed every day, and everyone I’ve talked to feels positive.
The Grand Opening stirred memories of another new supermarket opening, years ago. Back in Detroit, when my old grocery store began feeling and looking like the 1800s, I thought it was time to try a more modern, updated super market that had recently opened. You know the kind—bright lights, automatic veggie sprayers, wide aisles, an upscale café.
Not one to miss out on freebies or great deals, I trotted right over. The ads sounded so appealing, with promises of locally grown produce, organic meats, a “green” environment and, best of all, “clerks who care.” I wasn’t sure about that last part, but I would soon find out.
Pulling into the huge parking lot, I had to fight with another shopper for a parking spot. She drove an SUV, so she won. At that moment, a valet appeared and offered to park my little clunker for me.
Wow, this is awesome! I thought, handing him the car keys.
I waited at the entrance and when the valet returned, he gave me my keys along with a number tag. “That’s for pick-up,” he chirped, “so the baggers will know which car is yours. It’s the way modern stores operate.”
Beaming, I strolled inside and entered the produce section. From behind the tomato stand, a woman’s voice greeted me. “Nice to have you with us!” she exclaimed, blowing me a kiss.
I didn’t see that coming. Regardless, I smiled and shrugged and wandered over into canned goods.
“Good morning!” another voice called out, as a clerk popped up next to the peas. She took me by surprise when she reached out and wrapped her arms around me. I felt as if I’d just met up with a long-lost cousin at a family reunion.
I couldn’t help noticing how very friendly the clerks were—almost too friendly.
It was getting more difficult to return their smiles, since I was busy comparing their prices against prices at my old-timey store. I began having second thoughts about that “caring staff” thing.
As I turned at the next aisle, another perky clerk headed my way. “How ARE you?” she gushed, arms outstretched.
Thinking fast, I made a sharp left and ducked behind a donut display, losing the clerk in the process. “That was close,” I muttered. But when I stepped back into the main aisle, yet another clerk had already cornered me.
“So nice to have you with us!” the young man sang out before wrapping his arms around me and giving me a big hug. Then he squealed, “I love you!”
“Yeah, yeah,” I said, waving him off. I was afraid if I hung around, he might even ask me to marry him. So I got out of his way fast.
Now there’s something to be said for modern super markets and their state-of-the-art conveniences. But I had begun to feel that my old-fashioned, 1800s grocery store wasn’t so bad after all. Harry, the cranky old manager there, sometimes gripes when his customers help themselves to too many peanuts or grapes. But Harry is a fixture in the community and a hard worker.
Besides, he’d never gush over his customers. Or get in their way. Or tell them how wonderful they are.
And Harry wouldn’t think of hugging me, or asking me to marry him.
In no way does my new, favorite supermarket just around the corner compare to that sappy, clerks-who-care, place. My clerks are pleasant but they leave you alone—unless, of course, you need help.
And yet, come to think of it . . . on my last visit, I did notice one clerk who seemed a bit too giddy. I shied away, just as a precaution.
Oh, wait. It’s okay. He was pouring wine samples.