Behind the Counter

So I’ll admit it. I’m a big shopper. Online, in the store – it doesn’t matter. I find shopping therapeutic and I’m pretty sure I’ve financed somebody’s daughter’s education with all of my purchases at TJ Maxx and Marshall’s. Oh yeah, I’m a bargain shopper. In fact, it’s a badge of honor for me to tell you how much something should have cost and then how much I actually paid for it. I think it’s genetic (thanks, Mom).

When I met my husband, I was amazed at how much he loves to shop too. Now don’t get me wrong. I think 2 hours in one of my favorite stores would drive him batty. But give him a warehouse club and he goes nuts. The good people of the local Costco know him by name. That’s a little sad.

I have to admit I like Costco too. Besides having a nice variety of pretty good food, they just seem to be an all around good company. Good customer service, good to their employees. In fact, it’s usually a pleasant shopping experience every time I go in there (as long as I’m not tempted to buy the $1 churro).

And I notice good customer service because it is a rarity these days. I don’t go to my favorite stores because the cashiers are so gosh darn friendly. It’s often the opposite. But I tolerate it and complain to myself. After all, they CHOSE this job, right? I mean, I worked retail in my younger day and I was always friendly and helpful. Or at least I tried to be.

Stay with me because here comes the important part. As I was walking through Costco last week, I overheard the guy at the Verizon Wireless booth on the phone to someone. He seemed to be having a casual conversation and mentioned how busy he had been. His part-time worker hadn’t been in because her boyfriend had been killed in a car accident a few days prior.

I stopped in my tracks. I didn’t know anyone involved in the story. But instantly I was given the reminder that there is a story for everyone behind the counter. At some point, this poor girl is going to have to come back to work and pretend to care about the cell phones she is selling. All the while, someone will probably be complaining because they don’t want to pay for something extra.

Every person we come into contact with has a story. They may not tell you. You may not know. You probably won’t even see it in their eyes. But there is a story there. Sometimes it’s a good story and sometimes it isn’t. Either way, it’s a reminder that we’re here to work with each other – not serve each other.

I’m reminded once again of a shopping experience from one of those favorite stores. I had a return and the only service I was getting from the service counter was attitude. I finally looked at the girl that was helping me and said “hey, I like your sweater.” Her face lit up with a smile and she was as helpful as she could be. Hopefully I helped make her story that day a little better.

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