What is up with the folks over at my neighborhood Ingles? I shopped there on Sunday afternoon, a time I don't normally shop, and the surly teenagers who seem to run the place, despite the visible adult managers roaming round pretending to be in charge, were actually polite and courteous. Two different young male employees asked if they could help me find something. When the second one asked, I thought my head might spin off. Up until now, I have never encountered a teenager there who was anything more than disinterested. Typically, when I find myself in the teenager's line I am subjected to their conversation about someones date last night. Once, I came upon an empty line where the attendant couldn't be bothered to pause her conversation to ask for my advantage card. She just kept blabbing on to the bag "boy" while she scanned my groceries. I had to interrupt her to get my 78 cent discount on my fakin' bacon.
Now I will say that there are some fine, friendly and efficient older folks working there. If I shop during the weekdays, I will seek them out. Mike is one of them. He dresses as a woman every Halloween. Not that I have ever seen that, but I have somehow gleaned it from having a conversation with him -Hmmm, there's a novel idea: a conversation with your customer. There is another older gentleman, Floyd, that often bags for Mike. He will use my cloth bags without question(or an audible sigh). Last week, just after I arrived, I did a 180 to hop back home to get my advantage card; there was more than 78 cents at stake. On my way out I mentioned it to the night manager who was out having a smoke. He said that any of the cashiers can find my number by my address - something they had never volunteered to do before- and he snuffed out his ciggy and ran in to retrieve my number for me.
I have to give props to one affable young man I have had the pleasure of interacting with lately. He works in the deli, where ordinarily I feel like I've interrupted a druggie from getting his fix. "Can I help you?" is what comes out of their mouths but their body language screams, What do you want?
When I was in high school, I worked at a Chick-fil-a for two years. The expectation was to be kind and courteous to the customer. If I had behaved any differently, I would have been canned.
This is big. Customer serviced at Ingles. I wonder what happened? Did the expectations from management change? Or was it anomaly for Sunday afternoon shopping? Perhaps now that the economy is sour, management has some leverage to get people to expend a little energy to keep their jobs.
Whatever the reason, I like it!