Holiday Happiness

“The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them, but that they seize us.”

Ashley Montagu

This morning (2 days before Christmas) the parking lot of the Trader Joe’s was a zoo. People were honking, angry and agitated. The lines were long and no one looked happy. It made me sad, and I kept thinking about how much value there is in steering our life’s mundane activities from a perspective of acceptance. This is a huge part of 12 step recovery programs. Accepting what is, instead of resisting it and being angry about unmet expectations.

An associate of the store came over and asked if I’d like a chocolate truffle while I waited. (Seems silly, but, little things are big). I gladly accepted and savored the chocolaty sweetness on my tongue. When I got to the checkout person, paid and gathered my purchases, I leaned over and told the checker “May the force be with you.” He made direct eye contact and whispered thank you. At the door I was met with another associate handing out mini bouquets of flowers – for free!

Later in the day when picking up a grocery order from Ralph’s, I was informed that my order wouldn’t be available at the promised time, but that they’d call when it was ready. Later, after receiving said call, I made my way back. The parking lot was still a crazy mess, and there was no parking. Again, no happy faces, all of us scurrying around trying to get our things done before the weekend. Calling in to let them know I was ready to pick up my order, I was informed that my order was given to another customer by mistake. Hannah, the curbside associate, profusely apologized, informed me that my order would be free, and thanked me for my patience. About 15 minutes later, I was informed that they had my order, and was I still here to pick it up….but also that there were a couple of items that were out of stock.

No problem. They were kind – it was hilarious to me at this point. They had likely been yelled at by other customers all day and there was no need to add to their stress. Having worked in retail, I get how brutal it is this time of year.

Hannah made her way out to my car and said, “I don’t believe we are out of these items they said they were. Can I go back and grab them for you?”

“Oh you really don’t have to do that. I know you all must be insanely busy at this point,” I replied, figuring I would stop and get the last 2 items at another store.

“It’s really no problem – give me 2 minutes!” and she dashed back into the store. She returned with 3 brands of each item and let me choose. I thanked her again and marveled at how I will always think of this incidence when shopping, but that they’ve made a loyal customer for as long as we are here.

All of this could have gone so differently. I could have been bitchy and raged about the inconvenience of having to make multiple trips across town. I could have let the anger of other parking lot drivers seep into my attitude. I could have taken my irritation out on the people waiting on me.

One thing that became apparent when I stopped drinking, and dug a little deeper, was how the 12 steps were more than just a guide to no longer drinking. It’s that, for sure, but it’s also a plan to lead an emotionally adult life, ie, take responsibility for our actions and doing the introspective work needed to be at peace in one’s own skin, regardless of what is happening around us. To, as a friend of mine says, “Shed peace, not discord, wherever you go…”

Shed peace.

Even during the chaos of a grocery store 2 days before Christmas.

And sometimes it even means chocolate, flowers, and free groceries.


Things You Should Not Say To Me While Ringing Up My Purchases

Today’s daily prompt: On customer service….or lack thereof 🙂

Lori's Life and Other Stuff

There are so many instances where I’ve nearly left a pile of drool at the checkout line because my mouth was gaping open, shocked at the audacity of people and the things they say. So much so, that I felt compelled to share the list of what customer service people should never say to me (or anyone else) at the register.

1. Do not tell me how to parent my child. If I wanted your advice, I would ask for it. And if I’m asking for advice, I’m probably not going to solicit someone who I don’t know, doesn’t know my kids, or someone who may not even have kids of their own. Seriously – I’m sure you are just the “best auntie ever”, but if you don’t have kids of your own – you really shouldn’t be handing out parental advice. (The only exception to this would be if…

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Why I Dislike Walmart

I really don’t like Walmart. Really. It borders on detest.

Let me preface by saying I am not an elitist, I don’t think I’m “too good” to shop there, nor do I begrudge anyone who does choose Walmart over other choices. My reasons are also not political in nature. While I think it’s a shame that huge stores like Walmart effectively put “mom and pop” joints out of business and contribute to every town in America looking exactly the same, there are plenty of other stores that do the exact same thing, yet they don’t make my skin crawl the way Walmart does.

It’s little things, like the way that every single Walmart smells. I can’t put my finger on what that smell is, exactly, but they all smell the same. The smell is not pleasant. It’s gross.

Every Walmart parking lot (at least the ones I’ve been to, and I’ve been to a few, in multiple states) is ridiculous in how it is set up. It seems that every space is 5 miles from the door. Even the really close spots. And seriously, why is it in EVERY Walmart parking lot, pedestrians entering the store walk down THE MIDDLE of the lane, completely oblivious to drivers behind them fighting back every urge not to run them over?! This happens occasionally at other stores, but every single time I go to a Walmart this happens. On the way in to the store, and as I’m trying to escape. Seriously?!

Once I am inside Grossmart, I’m not only hit with the awful stench, but as I start to look around I notice something peculiar.  At no time, at any Grossmart, have I ever once seen a happy shopper. There’s the tired/overworked/stressed out parents (I’m in this group), the quick “in and out” patrons, the leisurely strollers (down the middle of the aisle, again completely unaware of people trying to maneuver around their cart), etc. All these different groups, and none of them seems happy to be there. No smiles as far as I can see.

And the employees. Oy. This could get ugly. Why is it that in a company this large and with this many employees that more than one checkout cannot possibly be opened?! Have you ever tried self-checkout with kids? Excuse me while I slit my wrist. There is a reason a company has customers. TO HELP THEM. Why is it that when you ask a Grossmart employee where to locate an item, you get a blank stare and a pat “that’s not my department” type of answer?! You’d also think that with a company this large, they could afford a training program of some type to teach people to perhaps find someone (anyone!) who DOES KNOW THE ANSWER?! C’mon, Walmart! It’s basic customer service skills here.

In contrast, I go to a Target and not only is the store clean, but patrons and most employees are happy to be there. A customer can get an answer most of the time at a Target. They have cute stuff. A few pennies more perhaps, than Grossmart, but I really don’t care.

Call me crazy or shallow, but I’ll take a happy pleasant Target trip over wacked out Walmart any day.

On Customer Service

It seems lately that good, really good, customer service has gone by the wayside in most businesses. Many have a “customer service department” instead of demonstrating the philosophy that all employees, in a retail establishment in particular, are the  customer service representatives.

When you go to a Wal-Mart, you sort of expect the service to be sub-par. At least I do. I have been surprised on one, maybe two occasions, when the associate didn’t say, “That’s not my department,” and actually helped me find something. This is the exception, however, not the rule. Most people don’t go looking for great service in Wal-Mart. On the other side, you walk into Nordstrom and you know you are going to be treated to the exact opposite. How does one company filter their service ideals down to the frontline staff so well and the other so poorly? Am I the only one that notices this?  Decent service isn’t that difficult.  Having worked in customer service in various businesses (retail, waitressing, banking, training, etc.) I feel I’ve earned the right to say this.

The other day I was in a mall buying some lotion at Bath and Body Works. I love their smelly goodness and usually they are a staffed by employees who are very helpful. Imagine my surprise when the two associates that were working were in a huddle talking and could barely be bothered to acknowledge my presence. Then on my way out, one of them couldn’t even look up from her phone to say “Thanks for coming in!” She didn’t even look up.  Among other things that bothered me with this whole interaction was the fact that she actually had her cell phone on her on the sales floor!  Are you really that important and busy that you have to text or check Facebook that often for a 4 hour shift? Really?!

My mom has boycotted a local supermarket because of poor service. On one occasion, she was told by a deli employee that the meat slicer “was closed”. Translation: She didn’t want to slice turkey. The deli wasn’t even closed yet. In another visit, a bakery employee told her that chocolate chip bagels were “out of season”. I never knew chocolate had a season….in my house, it’s a year-round treat!

After our dental adventure  I was shocked when the dentist (not the assistant or the receptionist) called personally 2 days after to check on our littles and see how they and their teeth were faring. I have never been called at home by a doctor or the dentist personally. And he chatted for a few minutes – it wasn’t like a “hurry, make this call and get off the phone as fast as possible” type of call. I was so impressed. Isn’t it sad that when we get good service, we are almost surprised?

All you have to do is the bare minimum with some eye contact and a sincere smile and you have out-serviced most of the competition. As a result, I will keep patronizing your business. 

What is your worst/best customer service experience?


So I have a, shall we say, love/rage relationship with the commissary. Here on the island it is by far the most economical place to shop. It does have its drawbacks though: EVERYONE and their mother is there on the same day since department of defense employees all get paid ON THE SAME DAY. The produce can be very lacking in terms of quality. And there is a very weird smell in the fish section. Yuck.

Well today I left my brain at the house and decided to brave it – on payday. Did I mention it was crowded? Oy. So I’m behind two ladies in the produce section waiting very impatiently for my crack at the red peppers. Meanwhile, both of my children seem to turn into octopi the instant we walk through the sliding doors grasping at every carefully arranged pile of fruit just threatening to create a lovely spectacle just for me to clean up! So back to the peppers and the ladies having a very in depth conversation (who knew bell peppers were so dang fascinating?!) completely oblivious to my impatience. So I spy a stray red pepper in the green pepper section and I grab it thinking, “okay, I’ll just grab that one and be on my way” – when suddenly out of nowhere,this “lady” SLAPS MY HAND and says “nananana!” or something. It really sounded like some kind of primal pepper scream! REALLY!? Apparently the green peppers are the holding area for this lady’s red pepper selections.

Based on years of obtaining food for my family, as well as my personal pet peeves (aka rage inducers), let me just offer a few words of advice to my fellow grocery getters:

1. If you see a mom in the store struggling with her kids – she is in fact struggling and REALLY does not want or need your look of disdain that plainly says she is doing it all wrong. As moms, we think we are getting it wrong half the time anyway. Your look helps no one.

2. Be aware. When traveling down an aisle – STICK TO YOUR SIDE! There are other people trying to get through and yes, you are in the way!

3. I love looking at ingredients and discovering new product, but does it need to take you an hour to read the bag of marshmallows? It’s sugar. Put the bag down you don’t need it and move on!

4. Watch where your cart is. My heels and my rear do not appreciate being biffed and bashed. (Although a case may be made for not seeing my rear as it has shrunk considerably! 😉

5. There will be enough meat. Knocking me down to get that t-bone really isn’t necessary. Maybe the 500 other packs of steaks are somehow invisible.

6. When my kid is having a meltdown, please don’t offer to “help” or give advice. Mostly it just makes it worse.

7. Don’t park your motorized ride-on cart in front of 3 doors of milk while you peruse your shopping list. Really?!

8. Do you really need to inspect (and by inspect, I mean touch, finger, and massage) every piece of produce after I just watched you not-so-discreetly pick your nose! Gross!

9. Definitely do not tribal scream at me and slap my hand! A bell pepper is simply not worth me giving you a beat down! (and I could’ve totally taken her! I’ve been working out you know!)

10. And finally, to the very kind lady at the checkout – thank you so much for saying how beautiful my children are. You made my day!! And after I got slapped, I really needed that!! 😉

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