I ALWAYS engage with empathy people serving me in any store, especially when things are so overwhelming as they are these challenging days. Just back minutes ago from our local ACME, with a cashier (maybe a manager subbing for a cashier on break – as she was waiting on me (with a long line behind me) trying to orchestrate via her phone some other workers in nearby departments), I engaged her with smiles and empathy, thanking her for being there for me, wishing her to ‘Stay safe” as I finished. Well, you get the idea. But that’s my NORMAL (no surprise to you, huh?) No matter how tired or harried, that never fails to get a smile in return (and probably gets the next customer in line at least a smile of welcome now…).

Earlier this morning, I went to our local Target store to get some laundry detergent, etc. as we were just starting to run low (never one to wait until a real need!). The store (about 10:30am) was pretty empty, so I (like you) wandered the aisles (even their food aisles) after picking up those cleaning supplies, just enjoying the quiet. Workers refilling the shelves were in good spirits given the current shopping challenges and hording (many shelves were empty of paper good and cleaning supplies, as expected). As I returned to the front check out area, I noticed two things. One, lines at the few registers that were open, with large baskets of goods to check out. “Oh well!” Not surprises as I resigned myself to waiting in those lines. Two, I noticed they were advertising a $40 reward if you opened up a “Redcard”, whatever that was? But hey, if you are going to give me $40, I need to know more so proceeded to the customer service area only to find 3 in line with nobody behind the counter. “Ah, no big deal..” so I just joined that line which found an employee from the food area pressed into service to fill that void. She was VERY patient with the first very elderly lady who had to write a check or something. Quickly she cleared the next two and then it was just me. I explained and found this was the Target credit card that would not only get me that $40 but also 5% off anything I buy at Target. (I don’t shop Target but once or twice a year). I fumbled filling out the application on their windowed sign-in device and had to start over. She was most patient as we worked together to complete the application which was instantly approved (she expressed positive surprise which made me feel like I had won something). Once done, she asked if I wanted to checkout my filled cart with her at this customer service counter (nobody had come in line behind me, thank goodness). I thanked her for taking the initiative in keeping me from having to go to the end of those other long checkout lines! Once finished (she even asked for help from a bagger so I didn’t have to do anything as they refilled my cart with bags), I asked for a manager and was told there was one right behind me (stocking a display of paper towels that were in demand). “Charles, “ I called out, “I want to say how great job this young lady (used her very unusual name that I can’t recall right now, but did then) for me.” He generously added his own praise for her in response and the three of them and myself were all beautiful smiles as I left, feeling so good about my 5% and $40 adventure. But then, that’s my ‘normal’ experience, and I couldn’t resist sharing it with you, my friends, and welcome you to share it with others if you feel like it. Maybe others will smile and share that smiles with their encounters these days.

Staying safe here in NJ with beautiful 78-degree weather, hoping this finds you doing the same wherever you are in reading this.