Polite at Publix

We fall out of the car and into a cart. The Salvation Army Man with a swirly mustache waves hello and Amelia wants to give him all of our change immediately. He wants to know where I found such handsome children.

We need to collect groceries. I don't use a list. I hardly ever do. It is about the silliest way. Instead I say, "Don't let mama leave the store without hot sauce." So every isle we pass, the children say, "Hot Sauce Mama!"

I let them choose what we have for supper. They order black eyed peas, collard greens, and corn bread. We collect collards and green beans and spinach. There are at least five or six employees working the produce section. All of them greet us warmly and ask if they can help us find anything. Anything at all. There isn't anything I can't find, but we thank them, say hello and continue on our way. In the isles we see the green aprons and wave. They ask how we are and say the children are lovely and a lady shopping says, "What sweet children!" They are after all pointing to the lentils and begging me to get lentils for daddy to curry.

We are getting the buttermilk for cornbread. Amelia is feeding William a fruit buddy thing when suddenly our really enormous train of a cart hits the edge of the milk cooler. All three children hit something and start to cry. Three men, obviously managers come running immediately. I don't know how they arrived so quickly or could have so much concern. Were we okay? Was anyone hurt? Did we need anything? What lovely children. Have a nice day. Are you sure you are okay? No one was hurt, it just scared them.

We finish down the chip isle. I remember I need pizza sauce for Friday night pizza. A green apron hears me and wants to know if I need help finding it.

The rush of assistance. The joy to help. The concern. The smiles. The orderliness of a store run ship shape with a full staff. It is pleasant. It is a wonderful experience for the children. We enjoy these trips.

We check out. There isn't a line. Ever. A red haired teenage boy brings blue balloons to the children. Another young man with lovely long dreadlocks asks about George Wilder's name. The lady behind the counter smiles and loves on us. The long dreadlocks walk us to the car. He loads my groceries in the back of the car and waves goodbye.

There are things about the grocery that bother me. The candy isle. The hydrogenated oils. The over packaging...The redemption of this experience is that my children are engaged by people willing to take the time to care and to do their job the best that they can. They are making minimum wage, yet they are doing it joyfully.

I believe that the person behind Publix has created a work environment, a system, a product that is more than just a grocery. It is a place to serve people and do it well. When my day is taxed with wiping counters and noses and bottoms and sinks. When there is another quarrel to address, a math problem to work, a project to explain. When we stop to gather our groceries, I am blessed. I am treated with such respect and I love that my children see this.


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