Thursday, May 1, 2008

best supermarket checker ever

Is it appropriate to call them checkers? Checkout person?

I started shopping at Vons (associated with Safeway and Pavilions) when I moved to Palms at the beginning of grad school. I noticed that, unlike at Ralphs, where I'd grown accustomed to shopping in college, at the end of VONS transactions, they thank you and wish you a good day, referring to you by name (or the name printed on your receipt). Employees in the store, whether reshelving, stocking produce, or some other activity, always ask how you are doing and whether you're finding everything okay. And this is all good. But one supermarket checkout clerk goes above and beyond the call of awesome.

She appears to be middle-aged, and her English carries a heavy Cantonese accent. I first made mental note of her when she refused to sell me grapes.

She refused to sell me the grapes because I had picked up green grapes, which were not on sale. They were something like 3.99/lb, unlike the red grapes, which were .99/lb. that week. She told me she could just keep my stuff there, and I could put back the grapes I had picked up, and get the correct grapes, come back, and finish being checked out. Not being particularly wed to the green grapes, I complied. Pretty cool, I thought.

She is also unwilling to let customers miss out on VONS Club savings. If a customer comes through the line without his card and could potentially miss out on VONS Club savings, the checker lady will ask other customers in line whether or not they will lend the fellow a swipe of their card.

My most recent visit to VONS included such an experience, and I happily let the other customer take advantage of my VONS Club savings. The supermarket checkout lady pointed to the two cartons of ice cream among my grocery selections and noted that they were Buy One, Get One Free that week. Remembering the incident with the grapes, I asked whether she memorized all the week's grocery deals. She said she HAD, and that before coming to work each Wednesday (the day that the grocery stores' weekly specials kick in), she goes through all of the grocery store flyers for the local chains.

"So you know the deals at Albertson's and Ralphs?" I asked. (their rival stores)

"Yes!" she said. And proceeded to tell me that chicken was on sale at Ralph's this week, telling me how much per pound of what.

I am humbled by her dedication to her work.