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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How Can I Help You Today?

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I stopped off at the local grocery store to pick up a few odds and ends tonight. Before entering the store itself, I noticed the large containers of pumpkins and stopped to dig through them in hopes of finding the perfect specimen for a Jack-O-Lantern.

As I was doing this, a young man approached me with several pumpkins already in his shopping cart.

“Excuse me, how much do pumpkins weigh?” he asked.

I was dumbfounded. How in the world was I supposed to know that? Also, why in the heck was he asking me? Did I look like some type of pumpkin expert? For a brief instant I wondered if this were a previous student from years before, trying to be funny. A second later I discarded the idea…he was too old to have been one of my fourth graders from my first year’s teaching.

“Um, that all depends,” I responded uncertainly. “On the size of each pumpkin.” I hefted a medium-sized squash in my hands and quickly estimated its weight. “This one weighs about nine pounds and therefore would cost about seventy-five cents.”

The man looked thoughtful then asked, “How much would it cost for all of these?” He indicated the eight or nine pumpkins in his cart…some large, some medium.

I shrugged. “I’d estimate your total weight at somewhere around ninety pounds, at nine cents a pound you’re looking at something just under ten dollars after tax.”

The young man thanked me and went on his way.

I shook my head. That was weird.

I moved into the building and was greeted by an old student now working at the store, and then by a friend I hadn’t seen for a lifetime or two. I chatted with each of them in turn and then found myself approached by another patron in the meat department.

“Where could I find your frozen chicken breasts?”

At home in my freezer. I thought silently.

I was again dumbfounded but pointed the man to an aisle where the frozen meats were housed.

I again shook my head and continued shopping.

Really weird.

It wasn’t long before another individual approached me, wondering if I could I point her to the blank CDs; she had looked everywhere and couldn’t find them.

That’s when it hit me.

They all thought I worked here!

You see I’d left school still dressed in my customary black slacks, white shirt, and tie; I looked like a professional. I must have looked like the manager.

To be honest, I was flattered.

I started to walk around the store and whenever asked for assistance, I willingly gave it, fully taking on the role of Macey’s Grocery Store manager. I even offered help to a few folks who were lost in looking for a particular item.

It was fun. I think I even sent most of them in the right direction.

I made my way to checkout and paid for my items. As I was walking to the front door an elderly woman approached me. “Excuse me, young man,” she said in her cracking voice. “Why is everybody crowded around the pumpkins like that? What’s going on?”

“The pumpkins? Oh, you see the reason they’re there is because right now we’ve got a spectacular sale going on,” I responded. “At eight cents a pound, you’d be hard pressed to find a better deal anywhere else in town.” I paused. “And I’m not just saying that because we’re standing here at Macey’s, but simply because it’s a great deal.”

The woman nodded and proceeded to tell me about her grandkids, she told me about wanting to have enough pumpkins for all of them to carve. She chatted on about her garden and her dismally failed attempts at growing her own. After a few minutes she wandered happily into the store.

I gathered up my bags and headed out to my car.

As I eased into the driver’s seat and started the ignition I gave a sigh of relief. I had finished yet another job and had helped a dozen or less people at the end of their own days.

I’m sure it won’t be long before I’m the recipient the employee of the month award…


Kalei's Best Friend said...

R u sure u didn't have Joey's relatives questioning you? :-)...
Yep, u do look professional.. I've made the mistake and going up to who I thought was an employee... Guess, it does make a difference as to what one wears.. which reminds me of when my husband and I walked into a Bev. Hills art gallery and the employee said to another " you'd be surprised who has money"... meaning me and my husband... back then we were in our 20's and dressed in jeans- .... man were they surprised when we paid w/a credit card in full, a piece of art.

T said...

at least you know where to go if the teaching thing doesn't work out... but you'd have to change your name... Helpsinaisle14 has a nice ring to it :)

MBGITWWR said...

I do say, good sir, you've earned it. Well done! May your merry follow you and those around you.

(feeling a bit british this morning)

Crustacean Queen said...

That was a good start to my day! Thanks! I love how long it took you to catch on!

Natasha said...

Your reactions to the strangers made me laugh!

You'll have to dress up more often when you grocery shop. :)

M-Cat said...

LOL - my kid actually works at Macey's and DREADS when someone asks him a question...he's so shy and self-concious that the minute someone wants to make eye contact and expect a verbal response from him, his sphincter puckers and his voice won't work. Can you give him some lessons?

Sarah Garb said...

But weren't you tempted to mess with people?? I mean, being helpful's nice and all... :)

Amy said...

I guess you know that you have another job you could fall back on in case you are tired of your current one! ;) Too funny!

Cheeseboy said...

This is a hilarious. I've always wanted to pretend to work at an Old Navy, but I don't think I have the arrogance to pull it off.

Teachinfourth said...

It was a pretty funny situation when I finally realized what was going on.

And just for the record, I was tempted to 'mess with' people.

Miss Griffiths said...

Too bad you don't get paid for your second job...but maybe that would take away some of the feel-goodness. (:

tammy said...

Ha ha! That's awesome. I can totally see my brother acting just like you did. Although, he probably would've messed with people just a little. In fact, if he reads this post, he's probably going to plan on dressing up as a manager and going to Macey's for his Friday night entertainment.

Justin said...

Hi there. Tammy's brother here. Let me just say... you're awesome to help people out like that.

I used to work at Macey's as a grocery stocker. It's actually a really good place to work. They hire friendly people and they take care of their employees. You probably fit right in with them.

Sometimes I will stop by the store on the way home from work (still wearing my slacks and tie). People sometimes ask me for assistance, and I am happy to help (and I'm only occasionally tempted to mess with people).

Since I used to work there, sometimes after taking a few cans off the shelf, I will "front & face" the remaining product, just to be helpful. Then my wife tells me to knock it off so we can finish shopping.

And Tammy... I have much better things to do this Friday. :)

Sarah said...

Out here on the border, that would never work for me because of the sad state of my Spanish skills. What a great way to spend the afternoon!

Teachinfourth said...

It would make for a good second job, wouldn't it? Bummer that I'm usually so exhausted at the end of a school day that I don't know as if I could handle it…

Justin, I think that that is a riot. Good for you!

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