The Challenge of Retail

Last night a woman yelled across the deli case to me “Could you come over here and help me please?” It wasn’t a patient request, it was rather demanding. Since I was in the process of cutting a roasted chicken in half for another customer, I yelled back, “I’ll be with you in one moment, I’m helping another customer right now.” Impatiently again, she replied, “You are?” Patiently again, I replied, “Yes, ma’am and I’m almost done, I’ll be there in a second.”

The challenge comes in how you respond to someone like that when you get to her. At first I was frustrated and wanted to drag my feet getting there. But I remembered something they told us in training. Some people come to Whole Foods Markets because they like to shop there. They’re into organic products, they like the atmosphere, whatever. But some people come there because they have to change their eating habits for medical reasons. Perhaps that grouchy customer just came from the doctor’s office where they were told that they had something wrong with them and that required them modify their diet. That kind of person, one who has just brushed up against their own mortality, might not be the most pleasant person to be around. They don’t need guff from the supermarket, they just need some time and patience.

I think the woman I dealt with last night was just impatient and grouchy. But you never know. It’s best to be nice in case they are carrying bad news. I was kind and courteous to that woman, as much as I am with anyone. I don’t know if it made a difference or not, I just keep in mind the advice a friend once gave me: Don’t let little people live inside your head for free.

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