I love made-up words. While their origins may be dim, their usefulness is unquestioned. Can you imagine Thomas Edison wondering what a ‘blog’ was? Or Marie Curie; wondering what ‘LOL’ stood for? You get my point, so don’t bother looking this one up, but today’s new word is ‘incinuary‘ (see above).
It may come as a surprise to some, but I am actually the ‘King of the List’ when it comes to grocery shopping. Having a list in-hand serves my version of the Air Force pilot’s motto when it comes to grocery shopping; ‘Get in, find it, kill it, go home‘.
Since no one store has the best price or quality on everything, like you, we know where to go, for what. So when it comes to vegetables and meat, I make for Caputo’s.
A small family-owned chain of groceries in Chicagoland, our store has something besides the best produce and meat for miles. But as amazing as their hand-made mild bulk Italian sausage is (and it is), it’s their remarkable people that shine brightest. While their staff may look like a United Nations recruiting poster, they all have one thing in common; they love the grocery business. You walk through their doors and you’re in Angelo’s house. You know you matter.
How many times does that happen?
Anyway, the other day we needed some veggies, so off to Caputo’s I went. Pulling into their lot, I had to wait for a Chevy to back out of a spot near the front-door. No big deal. But no sooner had the Malibu turned to leave, a late-model sedan snaked around her and claimed the spot for himself. Are you kidding me? Really? But even though I knew the jerk had violated the nationally accepted Geneva Convention protocols for parking lot etiquette, I shrugged it off and circled around to find another spot.
Now inside the store, I was busy squeezing avocados and smelling basil when I heard a commotion back at the deli counter. “WHAT KIND OF ________ DO YOU THINK I AM?”.
Seems some guy hadn’t pulled one of the numbered tickets for his place in line. Having cut ahead of everyone else, he instead chose to verbally assault the counter worker instead of apologizing and taking himself, and his number, to the back of the line. I’m 50-feet away and I can still hear the intensity of his aggression. And to make matters worse, he refused to yield, as if daring the other fifteen to make him stand down. No one did. But hey, I can’t say as I blamed them. It’s tough to have a rational conversation with a crazed person.
Moving on, I continued on my seek-and-find list mission and rounded the corner into one of the most amazing aisles of house-brand pastas known this side of Naples. No sooner had I made the turn, I caught sight of a tall stacked display of lasagna noodles falling to the ground to the dismay of the stock kid who’d just spent 20-minutes bringing the tower of pasta to life. The offender? You guessed it. Deli Guy. Being muy importante, Mr. Wonderful had apparently sped around the corner at the end of the aisle, cutting the corner a little too close. And to make matters worse, he must have been channeling the psyche of a hit-and-run driver because he didn’t even slow down to look back and see the wreckage left behind him.
Now seriously wondering if the moon was full, I began to think I needed to get back to the safety of my own home…like now. But sadly, there were still a few open items on my list, so I continued my mission.
Like some kind of a bad Freddy Krueger movie, I continued running across evidences of Deli Guy having gone on before me. There was a shaken stock girl, trying to explain to her manager why all the packages of chicken thighs were now carelessly strewn to the right and left of where they had been so carefully laid out. My hunch was Deli Guy and his quest for the perfect package.
No one was spared. Two aisles over, the bread guy was looking at a dozen squished loaves of sandwich bread. And like the pasta aisle incident, Deli Guy hadn’t given one hoot of concern for whomever might come behind him next.
Feeling good that my list was checked-off, I made my way to check out and get home. I’m smiling right now because you, my most savvy of readers, have already guessed who was in the check-out lane ahead of me. That’s right. It was Deli Guy. But wait, it gets better. His credit card was getting rejected as he angrily pushed the poor piece of plastic through the swipe machine – over and over. Oh dear God, preserve us all!
Having been a Caputo’s customer for quite awhile, I always looked for Theresa’s line. In her late fifties, she’s seen it all in her time as a decorated veteran of the cash register. She always seemed to recognize me and while she was flying you through check-out, she did it in such a way that always left me smiling as I left the store. “Sir, let’s try another card”.
“Why? So you can screw it up again? Let me do it again!”
He did and Theresa witnessed the same result.
“Sir, would you like to try a debit card or maybe cash?”
“Oh, so now you think I don’t have any money! Who are you people? What bridge did they find you under!”
Theresa didn’t flinch in the least as her manager came over to put out the fire.
“Can I help you?” With that, Deli Guy launched into a string of obscenities that involved Theresa’s heritage and intelligence. Keeping remarkably calm, the manager did his best to soothe Deli Guy and move him out of the lane so Theresa could resume her work for those of us spectators now waiting for the train wreck to be over. But Deli Guy wasn’t moving. As I looked up and down the lengthening line of my fellow shoppers, I saw the disbelief and disgust in the faces of all who were assembled.
Finally, one way or another, the manager got Deli Guy squared away and out the door. As he left, Theresa stepped back to the register. But as the next person in line was in the middle of saying something supportive to Theresa, she stopped them mid-sentence. “I’m sorry. Could you wait just a minute. The gentlemen left his credit card”. And yes, I will confess to secretly thinking ‘…serves him right‘.
And with that, she followed Deli Guy out towards his late-model sedan. “Sir, You forgot something…”
While I’d pay a king’s ransom to know what she said to him (and we were all watching through the plate glass windows), I know I wouldn’t have wanted to be in trouble with Theresa if I were still a little kid. She wasn’t all that hot and bothered, but there was a set to her shoulders that told me she was in complete command of the situation.
Returning to her post, she was greeted with a smattering of applause from all of us who’d watched the whole telenovella unfold in front of us.
“And how are you today?” she asked as I put my stuff on the conveyor. ‘Fine, but how are you? I can’t believe that guy. You were amazing. Are you OK?’
“Oh I’m fine. Incinuary people just need someone to love them a little bit.”
“You won’t find it in the dictionary. It’s one of those made-up words that just seems to fit some people. So, did you find everything you needed today?”
‘Yes, I did‘.
Theresa had no way of knowing, but what I’d really found was a sterling example of a regular person, conscious of their freedom to choose how they responded to incoherent rudeness. What’s more, she’d displayed class in the way she pulled Deli Guy up short with her response to his attacks. For our part, my fellow shoppers and I recognized an act of generosity that Deli Guy didn’t deserve.
In the face of Deli Guy’s incinuary behavior, Theresa had as much of a choice as her irate customer. No one would have blamed her in the least for going off on him like he had on her. But she didn’t.
Did I find everything I needed that day? Yes, I did and it wasn’t anything on my precious list or even, my new made-up word. What I got was a new definition for what Love and Class look like when they come together.
Sometime this coming week, you’re going to run across your own Deli Guy. When you do? Look up “Theresa” and read her as the quintessential definition of converting her from a (noun) into a powerful (verb).
Love informing Courage.
Photo Credits and Attributions:
Single Check Out Lane at Grocery Store: http://houston.culturemap.com/newsdetail/06-21-11-ok-computer-montrose-kroger-nixes-self-check-out-lanes/, Angelo Caputo: http://caputomarkets.com/t/AboutUs, “Freddy” Krueger: http://anightmareonelmstreet.wikia.com/wiki/Freddy_Krueger
Rude Customer: http://www.ipgtraining.com/sales-tips-blog/bid/55701/Prospects-and-Customers-Are-So-Damn-Rude-or-Bend-Over-and-Smile, Granny Clampet: http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/genres-tv/sitcoms/well-gosh-heres-the-beverly-hillbillies-cast/, Almond Tree: Paul Mark Sutherland, http://gyatoday.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/speak-to-me/
– ## –