Friday, November 21, 2008

We Encumber You With Kindness

Wow, the people at Publix REALLY want to push my cart out to the car for me. What is up with that? I mean, they have always offered to do it, and when I have Hank with me I usually take them up on it. But their desire has definitely intensified to near-uncomfortable levels. Today I went to the grand opening of a shiny new Publix near me, and I didn't even have the kids with me, and my buggy wasn't very full. The bagger girl assumed the cart-pushing position, like she was ready to speed out of there, but after the cashier handed me my receipt, I said, "It's okay, I can do it." She said, "Are you sure?" and I said something like, "Yes, but thanks!"

Then I wheeled towards the door, and a managerial type was standing there. She had overheard my exchange with the bagger, and she said, "Don't you want some help?" I said, "I'm really fine," and she said, "But I can bring the cart back." And I said, "Okay, you talked me into it, since you really, really want to." I smiled as I said this. Then we strolled to my car together, enjoying the beautiful, blue November sky, and unloaded the bags together. Then I got her phone number. Not really, but there must be some special spark between us for her to have wanted to help me so much. RIGHT?

This policy must really increase their need for staff, because the parking lot was full of Publix employees streaming in and out with people's carts. This Publix in general made my regular Publix look totally punk-ass. It wasn't huge like some I've been in, but it was all boutique-y somehow. And there was a jazz combo playing. But I am sure that was because they only opened yesterday. Everything was gleaming, and the shelves were stocked and aligned in a totally OCD manner, like remember that scene in Sleeping With the Enemy where Julia Roberts has to keep all the cans lined up just so? The husband from that movie must be in charge of this place.

Also, a squadron of managers was walking around in a group, being instructed by their big boss at various stations. When I found myself shopping near them, I suddenly felt self-conscious, like they were saying, "Let's observe the behavior of this average shopper as she compares two different sizes of French's onions." So then I would feel pressure to act my role well and not disappoint them. I did my best to embody the nonchalant but with-it consumer, absorbed in her own world and her important errands, but interested in value and convenience.

All the roleplaying, plus having my cart pushed, totally wore me out, as you might imagine. Don't worry, I revived with an iced coffee on the way home. Now Laura is having a sleepover, and it's taco night. Have a great Friday, y'all!

10 comments:

Bren said...

Could you imagine cashiering or bagging with all those neckties walking around? Of COURSE everyone wanted to get a legitimate walk outside! Besides, someone high up might have seen you solo, and thought you weren't OFFERED, and then someone inside have to be 're-educated'.

I'm having Disney flashbacks.

Camp Papa said...

I hope Bren is right, otherwise I would have to worry that your stove maintenance woman might hear about your grocery manager. There could be trouble.

Casey said...

They do that at my Publix too. I think at my store, the teenagers want a break to go outside and get away from bagging for a minute. I've NEVER let anyone help me out, even with two kids and a car full of groceries. I don't like strangers following me to my car...

Keely said...

I always get weirded out when they even offer. I know it's their job an all but, dude - do I look like I'm 90? Back in the pre-baby days we used to go grocery shopping as a couple (hey, I never said we were hip) and they'd even offer then. Really? You want to tell this 6'4", 200lb guy with me he can't carry a few friggin groceries?

Carrie said...

I usually say no out of habit, but that is so stupid of me! Must learn to say yes. Because, as you mentioned, not having to find a responsible place to put the cart afterwards while the kids sit alone in the car would be great! I do need help! I just also need help admitting it, I guess.

Becky said...

Exactly, Carrie. I think having a kid to get out of the cart and buckle into a car seat is a very good reason to take them up on their offer. When I'm by myself it just seems weird, but I think Bren might be right--they want to take a little walk outside.

And Casey, when you said that about not wanting strangers following you to the car, I thought with a chill about what if the Target people offered that service? No way--the kids at my Target are hoodlums! But the Publix people are somewhere between Chick-fil-a and Target on the saintliness-in-retail scale. If such a scale exists.

Bren said...

I had no idea people turned that down as a regular thing. I NEVER say no to that! All I have to do is buckle my kid in the car, and by the time I'm done, the buggy guy is closing the trunk and taking my buggy back. Y'all actually really say no to that? Really?

Amy said...

Well, lemme tell you, they sure dont do that in this part of the world! Every woman for herself.

About the walking out thing, I always wondered if it was because they wanted to keep track of the carts? Like maybe too many go missing or end up scattered all over the parking lot otherwise.

Michele said...

I always refuse at my Publix. you'd think they would know me by now. It is extra stress to me to worry about where I parked my car, and what is in my trunk to have to walk out of the store with a bagger. I think they like to make sure people do not leave their carts in a wrong place. Sometimes I tell the bagger who almost has a death grip on my cart, "I can get it, thanks. Oh, I am parked right next to the buggy area, thanks".
--Michele in Duluth, GA

melondonkey said...

I remember them training us to do this at Winn-Dixie. Our manager made us do it no matter what the customer said for a while and the awkwardness made me physically sick.

The bottom line was the legal liability of having carts floating around in the parking lot, but everyone pretended that it was somehow an expected part of good customer service. Management would get on kicks of making us do it, but it would usually fade out in a week or two.

We also weren't allowed to take tips for doing it.