A Lesson in Whole Foods

This morning near the end of my walk, I stopped into Whole Foods to get a small bottle of Orange Juice. While I was there, I decided to purchase a few peaches.  I then remembered a new recipe for carrot cake and picked up some  shredded carrots.  Remembering the carrots triggered a memory of a few other things I needed for the recipe such as Mascarpone cheese and crystallized ginger.  As I passed the individualized containers of applesauce, I grabbed a few of those for no other reason than I like them…..and so it went.

When I got to the register I wasn’t sure I had enough money as I usually walk with just a few dollars in my pocket, just in case I need something.  This stop at Whole Foods was clearly more than just “something” so  I wasn’t sure what items I might have to leave behind.   I asked the cashier to put the applesauce, juice,  and peaches aside because I really wanted the cake ingredients.  I imagine that this request could annoy many cashiers, but this young woman didn’t look annoyed, as a matter of fact she looked “blah” and  rather  sad.  She said, “I don’t mind, actually it adds a little excitement to my routine of scanning and bagging.”

“Well, I have only $22.”  I offered. “So the game is:  we have to come under $22 and get most of these purchases, ok?”  Just then I was reminded of something I used to do and began sharing the story with her.  Years ago, I created a fun  game for when my daughters-in-law came to visit.  My sons would mind the babies, and I would take the girls  to the outlet mall and  give them each $100.  The rules were that they had one hour to spend the money.   They had to spend it on themselves (not their children or husbands), and the one who came closest to the $100 without going over  won the game.

The cashier perked up and smiled.  “That’s cool, I like that.” she said.   “Ok, $22,  lete’s see what we can do with that! We ended up giving up the applesauce and peaches, and had a few laughs along the way. As I was leaving, the  cashier added, “Thanks! That was fun!  Lately I have just been going through the motions of scanning and bagging groceries and collecting money, hardly relating to  the customers at all.  I have to change that.”

“Hmmm,” I muttered. “Your job is much more than just scanning groceries, right?  She responded with more energy than I had seen up to that point.  “Yeah”, she said.  “My job is about helping the people who shop here. I have to do  better.  I am really glad you came to my register.”

It will not surprise you to know that I suggested  she read SUCCESTROGEN nor that I will go to her register  again.  You know how I always talk about my  purpose or “mission”?  Well,   there it was right in Whole Foods Market!–the chance to change someone’s  perspective to a more positive one.

Women who have high SUCCESSTROGEN levels are clear about their mission, whatever it is, and they continue to look for opportunities to carry it out.   I am clear about mine, but I can improve on actively pursuing  those opportunities more often.

Are you clear on your mission in life?–and are you aware that your opportunities may come up any time or place????? Look for them!!!

3 responses to “A Lesson in Whole Foods

  1. Pam Gillette Frye

    Having been in the grocery business for 18 years with Publix I can so relate to this post. You, Mary Ann, are/were/will/am, etc. be the easiest part of her day and I so love how you encouraged her in a way that did not invalidate and made her want to do a better job. My early days with Publix I ran a register. I made it a point, If I greeted a customer and they did not respond, I would ask them a question that required an answer. More times than not they left in a better mood. As I moved into Corporate I always drew on the memories of “customer service” from a stores point of view. Set them up to succeed….. not to fail.

  2. MA…I read this column the day after I witnessed one more example of rude, insensitive shoppers. Jeff & I were at Target..the woman ahead of us was talking on her cell phone during the entire transaction. She never spoke one word to the cashier, just signed the charge slip, took her purchase & walked away…still continuing this ” most important” phone conversation. As always, I was appalled at this behavior & talked with the clerk about it. “Doesn’t that drive you crazy?”, I said. He just shrugged his shoulders & said, “I’m used to it.” So I did what I always do at the checkout…looked him in the eye, spoke a few words & thanked him for his service….just what you would do. In fact, this column made me realize how very much alike we are when it comes to dealing with people. Thank you for this wonderful column.

    • You have excellently presented an example of the other side of this, making the phrase “It takes two to tango” come to mind. Yes, the cell phone while it is credited for saving lives, has also encouraged some very uncaring, negative behavior. Interesting! We need to put our cell phones away while driving and while shopping, at Mass, in restuarants…lots of room for improvement in our lives.

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