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Dear Large Chain Grocery Store,
I would like to comment on a recent change to your customer service philosophy that I have noticed. Or should I say, it has been thrust upon me. I do not think this is a positive change and I am hoping you will reverse the decision or at least write in some sort of opt-out clause for those of us who don’t want to be affected by it.
Let me back up a little. On weekends, I generally have to grocery shop in order to put food on the table for my family. Granted, my toddler is currently subsisting on nothing but blackberries and watermelon but that alone is why I must make a beeline to your produce section as soon as the weekend rolls around and I don’t have to be at work to pay for all that watermelon. Your store is conveniently situated not far from my house and I lack the creativity or drive to comparison shop with other stores that are further away, so I go to your store by default. And it is a fine institution.
I don’t really mind grocery shopping because it’s often a small oasis of Alone in my week. During my short trip up and down the aisles of the store, I am free from answering the mundane questions like “Does this tie match this shirt?” and “What room is that meeting in?” that I face from adults in my life every day. It also gives me a reprieve from the deep spiritual and philosophical questions posed by my toddler. Questions that leave me stumped like “What noise squirrels make?” or “Where airplane going?”.
Free of the incessant questioning, I walk through the store alone with my thoughts. They are not deep thoughts. I think about what buying a bag of Rolos will do to the size of my butt or whether or not we’re out of toothpaste. But they’re my thoughts and I cherish them.
I get a little sad when I get to check out and not just because all the magazines are hawking stories about Jennifer Lopez and her perfect post-twins body, which is known to throw anyone who sees her into a massive depression. I’m sad because my alone time is ending. Once the groceries are in the car, I need to go home and put them away, often with a 3 foot tall Helper who tries to break into the watermelon before I’ve taken the plastic wrap off it. So, I try to relish those final alone moments of gazing at tabloids and candy displays.
And that is why I stared at one of your staff in wild-eyed panic when he met me at the end of the check-out lane and told me it was his job to accompany me to my car. New store policy, he said. His manager insists. He will be coming with me to help me load my groceries.
Grocery Store! You are trying to steal from me! You are trying to steal my last three minutes of Alone before someone asks me “How markers taste?”! I don’t want to be walked to my car! If he walks me to me car, I will have to make small talk, I will have to explain that there’s a desk lamp in my trunk because I never unpacked it after moving three months ago, I will have to thank him warmly, and probably tip him. All I want to do is trudge silently across the parking lot, tuck my groceries in around my desk lamp and drive home alone! Alone, Grocery Store! Alone!
And the thing you did where the manager told this nice boy that his job is to walk me to my car? Is mean. Because if he just offered politely, I could decline politely and all would be well. But if I make this poor kid defy manager’s orders, I could be putting his job at risk. So, now I am in the grocery store weighing the value of his job versus my sanity and I can’t let a kid get fired because I want to be alone!
So Grocery Store, I know you think that the mom-n-pop vibe of sending a staffer out to help busy moms load their bags into the car is a good thing. But I am here to tell you that it should not be mandatory. Please. Just let me be alone.