woman working an old cash register

Doing My Life Better Series: The A & P

Doing My Life Better Series

(In hopes of helping you do your life better too)

I will be writing a series of blogs about how to do my life better. I always find something in other’s stories that resonates with me, and I hope the same is true for you. I will not try to find the parallels; you will have to do that. The first part is to excavate. That means looking at my defining moments. Those moments that changed you in some small way or changed the trajectory of your life in big ways. We do not recognize these moments until later. Some of mine are funny, some are somber and some just are.  I hope you can see something in these that is meaningful to you. 

The A&P

One of my first jobs in high school was a checker at the A&P grocery store. Mr. Fresh was the manager (I know, I cannot make that up!) I wanted to be a good checker. I did have some trouble counting out money and my drawer was usually off by a few cents each day. This was very disturbing to Ms. Pringle, the bookkeeper. 

It seemed the more important role of a checker was to be friendly and fast. I was cheerful. The harder part was to be fast. This was 1975 and there were no scanners. So, we had to punch in every price. If a price was missing, someone had to run back to the aisles and try to find it. That was frustrating for the customer and the others in the line. So, I started to make up prices to keep the line moving. That sounds bad, doesn’t it? I had an idea what deli ham cost, so I just punched in a number. I did that a lot. This could have been my secret until the other checkers realized that I always knew the price of everything. So, if they didn’t have a price, they would ask me and I would make up a number for them too. 

I guess it would be fair to say that I lied about the prices. And, I should have been fired. Mr. Fresh finally caught me. He was so amused he just said – “DON’T DO THAT ANYMORE! “

What did I learn from the A&P? I learned that customer service is the most important part of any experience. Treating people with kindness and respect matters. Understanding service was invaluable to me in my career in hospitality. 

A defining moment may be strong, but it did define for me that being likable made others forget when you messed up. I fine-tuned my likable gene because I knew I would need it. I have not changed my belief about that. When you are liked, people will forgive you. When they do not like you, they won’t. 

Am I sorry that I made up the prices? You decide.

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