Friday, September 16, 2011

Perky Produce People

If I were alone in the world and needed a friend, the first place I'd go is the produce department of my local grocery store. I mean, have you ever noticed how the people who work in the produce department always—and I mean always—say hi and ask if they can help you?

Of all the places in the grocery store where I need help, it usually isn't produce. I can tell a Fuji from a Granny Smith. I can divine whether a watermelon is ripe (mostly). I can even choose a darn fine head of iceberg lettuce.

And yet the one place in the entire store where you can't avoid human contact is produce. Not dairy, where I would like to know why the price of butter has skyrocketed to roughly the value of gold. Not canned goods, where I can never locate those light red beans I need for chili. And certainly not the jam and jelly aisle, where I can't find a three-berry jam to save my life.

If you try to avoid eye contact because you just want some alone time with your radishes and corn, they'll persist. You can't escape them. "Are you finding everything?" "Oh yes, although I did have a bit of trouble with the snap peas. They seemed to be hiding behind the butter beans, but I scoped them out! Thanks, though."

One of these days I'm going to ask the produce guy (or, rarely, the produce gal) exactly what they teach you in produce school. It has to be something like, "Every person who enters the produce department is either a complete idiot who has never seen anything green, red, or purple, or they're desperately lonely and in need of a friendly smile. Now get out there and make the world a happier, more produce-filled place!"

When I do, I'll let you know what he/she says.


Amy @ Never-True Tales said...

Charlie's first job was as a produce guy! I doubt he was helpful though: it was in high school, and he spent a lot of time dropping watermelons on purpose in the stock room and chopping up spoiled produce with knives.

larin said...

I was chased by a bakery employee when I was pregnant with Z. He just wanted to know if I wanted a cinnamon roll, but I was in that stage of morning, noon and night sickness where nothing looks good. I tried to avoid making any eye contact and almost ran from the bakery. He probably thought I was crazy. ;-)

Jenny Mertes said...

I got up my nerve yesterday and asked a produce guy why they're always so cheerful. He said that all the store employees at Basha's are supposed to say hello to customers, but there's usually a counter separating them (think meat market), while he's out there with the customers. So he speaks up first. I don't think that's the whole story - I've passed countless store employees in the aisles who've never said a word or even acknowledged they saw me. I think customers are invisible to all but the produce people.

felice burns said...

Jen - I love talking to the green grocer/produce guy, the folks in the bakery- the butcher, the dairy guy , etc. Even the managers of departments and the store managers. I benefit from their advise an they tell me how and when to get the best deals. Making friends with your auto mechanic is good too - he can really give you good advise if you let him.

felice burns said...

You may also find that your local grocery store is using The Disney Model of Customer Service, which has become very popular in the last few years.