I am a creature of habit. Case in point: My grocery shopping. I go to the grocery store every Monday morning after my workout – usually around 10am. I go to the grocery store again every Thursday morning after my swim to stock up on milk, fresh produce and a few things for the weekend.
Since I am at the store at the same time every single week, I have come to know the cashiers and baggers. There is one bag lady in particular that I like so well, I will get in the line where she is working even if it’s not the shortest. This lady feeds my orderly, control-freak self. See, I place my groceries on the conveyor belt in a specific order based on how I’m going to put them away when I get home. In an ideal world, they are then bagged in that specific order and my life runs like a well-oiled machine. I’m going to be honest, it doesn’t work out that well in most cases and I’m stuck with bags of warm & cold things mixed together and all sorts of chaos ensues. But this bag lady – her name is Joyce – gets me. She always bags them in the right combinations. And a year or so ago she mumbled that she noticed how I like to put my things in a certain order and that she likes that.
Joyce and I, we see eye to eye on the order of groceries.
But here’s the thing, Joyce is not a pleasant person. She scowls. She mumbles. She rolls her eyes at some customers and some cashiers. She’s a little on the grouchy side. So, I decided a few months ago to make it my personal mission to get Joyce to warm up to me.
I started by thanking her for something specific each time I walked away with my cart full of expertly bagged groceries. I always thank the baggers but I tried to think of something specific to notice each time. It took a few months but I noticed a slight thawing one day when she noticed that I forgot my cloth bags and asked about them. She seemed to scoff at my forgetfulness but hey – she talked to me so I took it as progress.
Next, I started trying to make comments to her while she was bagging instead of waiting for the end of our encounters. At first I’d get some mumbles from her but about a month ago I started getting actual responses. It was almost like we were having a conversation! Then this week I hit the jackpot (or I finally wore her down). She actually talked to me FIRST!! She made a comment about a Trader Joe’s opening up in our area soon (a rumor I hope is true) and then made a second, unprovoked comment asking why I was buying so many canned goods this week since I usually buy very few (it’s food drive week at church).
TWO COMMENTS!! AND she smiled at me! You have no idea how excited I was when I left the store. It might have taken months of weekly prompting but I have broken through Joyce’s barrier! My next challenge? To get her to laugh about something and maybe even tell her my name so we can call each other by name when I’m there. Joyce and I… we’re going to be best grocery friends, I can just feel it.