The Personal Touch at Wegmans

Lolly is my favorite checker at Wegmans. She speaks in a friendly, conspiratorial tone, kind of out-of-the-side-of-her-mouth. Her voice has a very peculiar timbre, too. Something between foghorn and an oboe. It intrigues me.

But the thing I really like about her, and why I will wait in her line even if there’s a faster one, …well, there are a few things.

First, she’s is just a great checker. She looks down the belt and checks out the lay of the land, quickly assesses my stuff, and then starts to mentally group things for bagging.

Bagging is a fine art. Lolly knows how to sort and how to bag. She’s one of those Tetris kinds of baggers, but she will never sacrifice fragility for spatial symmetry. 

For example, she would never just shove my loaf of raisin bread into the corner of a bag, even if the space seemed custom designed for it. Oh no. Food before form. Always.

She’s not particularly chatty. But I feel she’s there for me. She sees me. 

Today a group of three women were in line ahead of me. I overheard them talking to Lolly about how hard it was to raise 3 kids as a single parent. Lolly said she understood because she had been a single parent, too.

When they finished and it was my turn, Lolly said to me: “It’s a lot like being a bartender here. People tell you everything.” And laughed.

I corrected her. “No,” I said. They tell YOU everything. It’s because of how you are.”

She just shrugged and went back to efficiently scanning and weighing and bagging my stuff.

All the way home I tried to nail down just what it is about Lolly that makes me cruise all the checkers first, to see if she’s working, and then stand in her line even when there are way faster ones.

She’s not particularly smiley or chatty.  That’s not it.

She’s just present

She seems to care about my groceries, yes, but I also feel she she sees me as a person, too. I’m not just the next customer to process. I feel a human connection with her, and apparently, I’m not the only one. People tell her things. Intimate things about their lives.

As more and more grocery chains add self-scanners, the human checkers are going to be phased out, I’m afraid, and for the most part, good riddance to them, because frankly, most of them they act like robots now, anyway.

But it makes me sad to think that someday there won’t be any more people like Lolly; people who you don’t know personally, but who make you feel more like a person for having interacted with them.

I Never Know What to Write About

The question of the moment is: Should I sit here and continue to eat refined carbohydrates and drink coffee, or go to Wegmans for green juice supplies?

OR: Should I stop eating refined carbohydrates and go up and meditate first, and then go to Wegmans for green juice supplies?

OR: Should I put on a James Altucher podcast and clean the house, then go for my Power Walk, and then go to Wegmans for green juice supplies?

OR: Should I write about how there were 22 people for Happy Hour Yoga last night and I had a freakin’ blast?

OR: Should I write about the Yoga Challenge which is in Day 5, and how I heard someone ask another person: “Are you yoga challenged?”

(“Why, yes. Yes I am.”)

This is what the wall looks like in the lounge:

Yoga Challenged

OR: Maybe I should complain write about the weather. Now that would be novel and interesting.

Winter face in spring

OR: Maybe I should write about how Spring lifted up her skirt and let us catch a glimpse of her panties the other day, and I saw it and captured it:

Snowdrops

But then she put her long johns back on and pretended like it never happened.

OR: Maybe I should write about how we found a new place to eat in Corning that serves green food and we were so happy!

(This is G pounding wheatgrass shots and my salad.)

Pretty salad

G drinks wheat grass

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And what would a post be without a picture of the miraculous Obie? Em took him to “Mommy and Baby” class and clearly he had too much to drink.

 

Obie: Done.

OR: Maybe, now that I’ve procrastinated long enough by writing this post and my  blood glucose levels are dropping precariously, I should go to Wegmans for green juice supplies.

On My Plate

Because the weather was kind of meh, we jumped into the car and headed for Wegmans by way of Target, Panera, TJMaxx and Bon Ton.

I saw a woman in a turquoise polyester pantsuit.

I had a tall soy latte.

I said “Hi” to one of my yoga students in Target.

I had black bean soup at Panera.

I bought a lipstick that looks like a crayon in Bon Ton.

By the time I got to Wegmans, I was whoah, kinda done.

I picked up a bag of frozen shrimp, a box of couscous, a bag of snowpeas, and a piece of ginger root, in addition to the other stuff on my list, and made this for dinner:

gingery shrimp and couscous

It was fast and easy and yum. After the turquoise pantsuit, it was all I had the energy for.

Gingery Shrimp and Couscous

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large yellow onion, finely chopped

3 tablespoons finely chopped ginger

1 cup white wine

1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

8 ounces snow peas, cut in half on the diagonal

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 10 ounce box couscous

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until golden brown. Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook 2 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Nestle the shrimp in the onions and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the snow peas and stir to combine. Continue cooking until the shrimp are bright pink and cooked through, about 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Meanwhile, cook the couscous according to direction. Spoon the shrimp and snow peas over mounds of couscous on a plate and serve.

And It’s All Seth Godin’s Fault

I had a “customer service moment” in Wegman’s today.

I love Wegman’s, I really do (I can see Catherine waving and jumping up and down, yelling “Me too!” all the way from Iowa. Hi Catherine!)

Love the produce, the fish, the beer aisle(s) !!

Love the magazine section, love Nature’s Marketplace.  Love the cafe.  I even love the bathroom where there is usually a vase of fresh flowers near the sinks.

But the coffee kiosk???  Not such a fan.

My standing order is: soy latte, hold the foam.  Not a complicated order, but you’d be surprised how many times I’ve gotten half a cup of foam.

Sometimes, when the baristas –I even hesitate to call them by that honorific since they don’t have much, if any, “skillzzzz” but are merely java jockeys), are being slammed, I just take my half cup of foam and walk off  and sulk in the broccoli aisle.

But today, today was different.  Today the store was quiet (10 AM on a Thursday) and there was no line.  I was “it,” the only customer for miles.

I was happy, in a good mood. I asked her to hold back the foam, and when she started to pour the pitcher of soy milk into the shot with no hold-back, I stopped her and reminded her, “Please hold back the foam.”  She gave me a look and a sneer and said, “That’s how we make them here!”

I picked up the cup, and yup, it was light. Half foam.

Me: “Could you just take a spoon and scoop off the foam and give me what’s left of the soymilk in the pitcher?”

“Fine!” she huffed, and proceeded to make me another drink.  She slammed the fridge door closed, sloshed the soy milk into the pitcher, shoved it under the wand, and then proceeded to hold back the raging river of foam with a teaspoon, which was completely ineffectual.

Result?  Same drink, except this one had a lot of added venom (on the house).

(Nice.)

She plopped it down as if to say, “Here.  You happy now, bitch?”

I said nothing, but craned to look at her name tag which was attached to her hat. She saw me and pointed to it and said, “Yeah, it’s Roxanna!”

(All righty then.)

I talked to a manager on my way out.  Told him the whole sad story of Roxanna and her snippy attitude and her inability and unwillingness to hold back foam.

I told him she didn’t fit in with the whole Wegman’s experience of the happy fish guy and the woman who goes out of her way to find me the goji berries. She doesn’t fit in with the flowers in the bathroom and Cathy, the checker who can pack a bag so expertly that it looks like Rubic’s cube of geometric symmetry. And on top of that, she always smiles and talks to me like I’m a person. (Amazing.)

Ever since I’ve been reading Seth Godin and Chris Brogan and all the other gurus of the new business paradigm, I am less tolerant of businesses that have mediocre or, (godforbid) downright bad customer service.

Businesses like Amazon and Zappos and L.LBean and a host of others have spoiled me (and a lot of other “me-like” people out there) and we know we don’t have to put up with the likes of Roxanna any more.

I told the manager at Wegman’s that I will just get my no-foam soy latte at The Soulful Cup next time so as not to have to have my perfect Wegman’s shopping experience sullied by the likes of the Evil Roxanna.  (I didn’t call her that.)

He said he was really sorry.  He asked me to wait a few weeks and then try the kiosk again, and if I still had a problem to come see him (his name is Steve).  He gave me a $7 gift card to treat myself to a coffee on the store.

Now that’s the Wegman’s I know and love.

And PS.

Roxanna? Honey? I think you might be going back to the stock room.  Where you belong.