A Simple Story About Small Gestures at Whole Foods Market

This post is not about holistic skincare. And honestly I didn’t intend to write a blog post today. But something really cool just happened to me on the grocery line at Whole Foods Market that I wanted to share. And by the way, this isn’t the first time I’ve had good things happen at Whole Foods Market, which is the biggest reason I choose to shop there, despite the fact that they are certainly not the lowest priced store. Oh and if anyone from Amazon happens to read this…I truly hope you strive to keep the culture and ethos of Whole Foods that allows for cool things like this to keep happening.

But on this busy evening, I was so affected by this experience, that I put my groceries in my car, grabbed my laptop, and went back inside to write this.

It’s a simple story about small gestures, and I hope it makes you smile.

It was about 5 pm on a Monday evening, on the seventh day of Hanukkah and just days before Christmas. The store was crowded, and every single line was long. I got on what seemed to be the shortest of the long lines, and it was soon made clear that I had not chosen the fastest of the long lines. You know when you seem to get behind the person that has a TON of groceries, and then there are questions, or coupons, and conversation…and it just seems to take forever? Yup, that was the line I chose tonight. But as I looked around, I really had no idea if changing lines would have gotten me out of the store any sooner. So I decided to wait.

My makeshift Whole Foods Market “office” where I wrote this blog post after this event transpired.

I noticed that the cashier was very friendly, and was very chatty with each customer. That might annoy some customers–and I’ll admit, if I was in a rush, it would have annoyed me. But clearly I wasn’t in a rush because I’m literally sitting in the store, writing this now. The customers ahead of me had smiles on their faces as well, so clearly they were enjoying the conversation.

It was finally my turn–and I had a full cart full of groceries unloaded on the belt–when a gentleman came up behind me with only two things. I told him he should go ahead of me. He declined, saying I was there first, and that he didn’t mind waiting. I said, “no–you only have two things, please go ahead.” He thanked me, and as the cashier was finishing up with the customer ahead of me, the gentleman said to me “you know, I never mind waiting for her. She’s a kind and wonderful person.” Still, he went ahead, and the cashier recognized him immediately, came out from around the register to give him his receipt, bag, and a Happy Holidays hug.

I was finally up, and the cashier and I exchanged hellos. I asked how she was, and she said she was grateful to have woken up today, because not everyone got to. The rest of my checkout experience was pleasant–the cashier commented on how yummy this was, and what a great price on shampoo that was, and then complimented me for my fairly low bill, having chosen all organic foods, AND stocking up on shampoo (it was about $160 for a week’s worth of groceries and four bottles of haircare products for my family of four).

She then told me how much the store appreciated kind gestures like mine, and that my organic grape tomatoes were on the house.

I wanted to share this story for a couple of reasons.

1. We don’t always have to be in such a rush. It’s OK to wait on line sometimes, and it’s OK to be patient while others enjoy a nice conversation.

2. Have conversations. In this digital world, we all have a deficiency of human connection and actual conversation using spoken words. Take the time. Use your words. Make eye contact. Smile.

3. Do something nice just because. I didn’t let the gentleman go ahead of me to get free tomatoes. I simply didn’t see why he should have to wait for my big order. But it made him feel good, the cashier feel good, and me feel good. So one small thing positively affected three people.

4. Be kind to people in retail, restaurants, and at the checkout in the grocery store.?Be kind to delivery people, sanitation workers, and customer service representatives. Always, yes, but especially during the holidays. They are working ridiculously long hours. Mostly on their feet. I know because I worked retail for a good 16 years of my life. I was yelled at, had things thrown at me, got cursed at, and witnessed extreme selfishness and pettiness–all for what? A few saved minutes? A couple of saved dollars? Come on.

The commercialization of the holidays has turned me into quite a grinch. But small moments like these–people slowing down, having kind conversations, and just being polite and decent, gave me faith that there are still good people out there.

Be one of them. Often.

Got any random acts of kindness or stories of humans being good humans to share?

I’d love to read about it in the comments below 🙂

*Image credit: Kate Ter Haar



3 thoughts on “A Simple Story About Small Gestures at Whole Foods Market”

  1. The Whistler ?

    Sometimes you just have to listen for a sound that is a sign. That?s the lesson learned on the one-year anniversary of my father?s passing.
    With the dementia taking hold and his quality of life slipping away, he made it clear to those at the Veterans Memorial Home in Vineland, New Jersey, and to me, that he wanted to go. His actions spoke louder than words. He would put a fake gun to his head and pull the trigger. Need he ?say? more?
    Flash back to last April when I bid on a silent auction item at The Center for Contemporary Mysticism?s Mystical Feast Fundraiser and walked away the winner of what was described as long weekend retreat during leaf-turning season in the Pocono Mountains.
    When I followed up a week or so later with the generous Ken Class, a board member and active volunteer of the Center, I learned of the actual location of the property: Eagles, Mere, PA in what are known as the Endless Mountains. Eagles Mere was the spot where my father and his buddies from The Philadelphia Bulletin enjoyed a hunting lodge for many years. Twice a year the men opened the lodge to the wives and children to enjoy. To a city kid, it seemed like paradise.
    But the path to connecting again with my father on his anniversary as I was scheduled to head north to be in one of his favorite places took a turn to the south.
    In an attempt to get back in shape and lose some weight, I decided to sign up for a Scottish Folk dancing class a little over a week before the weekend getaway. As we gathered in the church hall at St. Martin-in-the Fields Episcopal Church in Chestnut Hill, it became clear to me that I had worn the wrong shoes for the active two-hour romp. I had chosen rubber flats that had absolutely no support. What was I thinking?
    By Thursday I was at Chestnut Hill Podiatry getting a steroid shot in the foot and an introduction to orthotic shoe inserts. Goodbye red cowgirl boots, hello sensible shoes.
    So my trip to Eagles Mere was postponed, and instead I got up and gathered in front of a little memorial of photos of my father. Many of the photos show the two of us riding horses in the Wissahickon Valley. I took out the book that we had written together titled ?Cowboy Mission: The Best Sermons are Lived?Not Preached? and read some of his funny passages. Watching the video I had produced for his 85th Birthday, I asked my father to give me a sign that day that he was okay. The sign came in a most unusual way.
    Friday afternoons are typically a bit crazy with meeting deadlines and clearing off the desk. I barreled through the day taking breaks every once in a while for a sign.
    At 2:30, a friend who does not drive and walks with a cane asked if I could pick him up from his doctor that is around the corner from my Flourtown home. In a panic, he asked if I could stop by the market for his prescriptions and food, and then drop him back off at his apartment in Ambler.
    At first I hesitated, but then packed up my laptop figuring I would do work in the food court. By the time we got to the store it was nearly 4 p.m. and I was hitting a wall, so I dropped my friend off and decided to go do some ?free hugging? at the Dollar General store in the Flourtown Shopping Plaza.
    For those who have not followed this, I joined the ?free hugs? movement following the 2016 presidential elections as my small way to try to make America kind again.
    As I opened my hatchback to put my ?free hugs? sign away, I heard this whistling. I dropped my things, turned, and saw this man whistling away while walking toward me from the far end of the parking lot. This was not just any whistle. This whistle had the same tone and pitch of my father?s whistle. Tears came to my eyes.
    This African American man did not look like my father, but the resemblance to his whistle was uncanny. I looked at him and he at me. We had a moment.
    I told him about the anniversary of my father?s passing, and shared with him that as a little girl, I would sit on the front stoop of our Northeast Philadelphia home listening for my father?s whistle. His whistle could be heard blocks away as he got off of the bus from his overnight shift in the composing room at the newspaper. I would announce to the rest of the family, ?Daddy?s home, Daddy?s home? even though he was still at the top of our street walking toward us with two fresh newspapers under his arm. One paper was for the kids (with our sticky fingers) to read, draw on, look at the funnies and then make paper airplanes from the newsprint. My father reserved a fresh paper to indulge in while having breakfast before going off to bed.
    The whistler in the parking lot took my hands in his, said a prayer, and told me my father was fine and whistling away on the other side.
    The journalist in me wanted to take a photo, or get this man to whistle into my phone, or capture his name to keep in touch.

    But it was such a precious moment that I simply let him walk away, savoring the sounds of his whistle.

    It was a moment. It was our moment. Just listen.

  2. I always (almost) let someone with a small order go ahead of me in the checkout line. My reasoning is this: if they can pay and leave the stores while I am still unloading my cart, why in the world should they have to wait for me, even if I was there first?! Just a thought…??

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