A few weeks back, I told the story about how a cashier at Harris Teeter changed my day by giving a simple compliment. What I didn’t share in The Unexpected Compliment That Changed My Day was that I felt compelled to e-mail Harris Teeter and offer feedback on my experience. I summarized:
Argediz was my cashier today and I just wanted to write to say how wonderful he made my shopping experience on 12/18. He made casual conversation about football with the gentleman in front of me, but not to the point that is was holding up the line or slowing down progress. When I got to the checkout, he took the time, in the brief encounter, to find ways to make me smile and laugh. I do not believe this is a requirement in his job description, but it was evident that he takes pride in making the Harris Teeter customer experience a positive one. I left in a much better mood than I walked in with. I hope that he can be recognized in some way for his efforts and especially his positive attitude while interacting with customers. Let me know if you have any additional questions.
A few days later, I received the following response from “Joe” in Customer Relations: “How awesome! Thanks a lot for taking the time to tell us about Argediz. I’m happy to hear that he was able to provide you with such stellar customer service! It’s always nice to hear about our associates who are doing more than just providing a standard experience. I’m happy that he was able to be personable with you. I will be sure to forward your comments to our Senior and Store Management Teams so that Argediz can get the special recognition he deserves! If there’s anything else I can do for you, please let me know! Thanks for shopping at Harris Teeter, I hope you have a wonderful day!”
Fast-forward to January 15… I was doing my standard grocery trip at Giant, but they didn’t have two items I wanted: 1) arborio rice, which I use to make risotto and 2) the new Tomato Basil Rice Cakes (I want to smear avocado on top). While I really wanted to get home, I decided to stop at Harris Teeter to see if they had those two items.
I parked and walked in the “exit” by all the registers. I immediately saw Argediz, who was busy ringing up another customer’s groceries. I passed behind him in an open lane and he glanced over his should and did a double-take before saying my name, which I was shocked he remembered; but then again, I’m the type of person who is introduced to someone and immediately blacks out when they tell me their name.
Anyway, being my anti-social self, I had my headphones in listening to Amos Lee’s “Flower” but it was quiet enough that I heard him. I didn’t stop to chat, just casually said, “Hey you!”
…I walked away laughing at myself. “Hey you!” as if I see him all the time and we’re friends or something?? I also had to wonder if the customer he was working with was confused by the interaction. But at the end of the day, I was on a mission for rice and rice cakes. They didn’t have the rice cake flavor I wanted and I suspected that the variety was just too new and most grocery stores simply weren’t carrying them yet.
With my single bag of arborio rice, which happened to be down the aisle perpendicular to his lane, I walked up and saw that he still had nearly half a basket to ring up, so I shockingly opt for self-checkout. Again, self-checkout is rare for me, but since it was literally one item (that wasn’t fresh produce) I thought I could manage.
I looked up from my phone at one point and glanced in his direction and he motioned his head and mouthed, “Come over here.” I obliged, even though a self-checkout lane had just opened.
Within 15 seconds of me standing in his lane, the girl at the next register told me that she could help me, so I moved there. Playing musical fucking registers up in here.
I immediately looked up at the screen and saw my name at the bottom of the monitor. I was confused. I hadn’t given my VIC card [number — because I never have that damn card with me] yet. How did they know my name?
I was so stuck on this that in response to her question about whether I had a VIC card, I posed that very question, “How does your computer know my name?” She laughed and pointed down at her name-tag, “My name is Melanie.” I breathed a sigh of relief – really thought Harris Teeter had some type of facial recognition technology, which would be so unnecessary in this situation.
Once I paid, I grabbed the bag of rice and began to slowly head toward the door. I looked back to Argediz and smiled and said, “I’ll see you next time.” He stopped me and was like, “Wait, wait.” His customer was currently paying, so he approached me and was within a foot of me when he asked, “Can I hug you?”
I was confused, but much like our first interaction, not creeped out by him, so I shrugged, “Sure?”
The hug was brief and beyond friendly. When he pulled away, he smiled and said, “Because of you, I got Employee of the Month!” I smiled back, “Oh, that’s great! I’m glad you got recognized. I was wondering if they just said you would.” He nodded and told me that he was going to be leaving in a few weeks for another job with a moving company, but that it meant a lot to him. I told him he deserved it as he returned to his customer.
I ended up leaving feeling like I had done such a wonderful thing. Sure, it took time out of my night to e-mail that short commentary, but knowing that it actually meant something to Harris Teeter and to him made it well worth it. If nothing else, I gave him a solid highlight on his resume. But when I thought further into it, maybe it was so meaningful to him because he had been laid off from multiple jobs, or maybe he has a young child at home that he’s trying to support. You really never know what people are going through and how something you say or do for them could change their lives, even if only for a day or for a short time. It doesn’t have to be some grand gesture — a simple compliment changed my day, a simple e-mail changed his.
You can always choose to pay it forward.