Godbey: The things you hear in the grocery store

Published 4:02 pm Tuesday, June 18, 2024

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By Jack Godbey


I remember the first job I got when I graduated high school. It was a smaller local grocery store that everyone went to at least once a week. They were known for their personal customer service, and it was there that I learned the work ethic and life lessons that I have utilized in every job I’ve had since. Long before I went to college and chased down a new profession, I spent several years of my youth working inside some of the grocery giants. Believe me when I say there is nothing quite like working with the public in a retail store to make you appreciate literally any other job you can manage to snag. 

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I remember back in the 1990s working for Winn Dixie, where we were known for selling high-quality and sometimes unusual meats. A lady ran in looking to purchase the testicles of a bull.  It makes my voice raise two octaves just thinking about it. In the store, they were labeled “calf fries.” I’m sorry, but they don’t look like any fry I ever had. The lady said she needed some of these “fries” for her dish. Without warning me of what she was talking about, she just walked right up to me and asked, “Excuse me, sir, do you have big bull balls.” Thinking she was flirting with me, I blushed a bit and said, “Well, I can’t complain.” She looked at me strangely, and I realized my mistake nearly fifteen seconds late. There is no coming back from that. 

I was always amazed at the folks convinced that all the excellent fresh produce was kept in the back like a hidden fortress. I had an elderly man who was convinced that the nice cucumbers were being hoarded in the back and told me he didn’t have them. I tried to show him some nice cucumbers that were in the showcase, but he was sure that all the good stuff was being hoarded in the stockroom. Finally, I realized that I wasn’t winning that argument and took a cucumber from the case, went in the back, and came back two minutes later and gave the exact same customer to him and he smiled really big and said, “That’s what I’m talking about.” 

That reminds me of when a man complained about the chicken legs being too small. He insisted that they must be all left legs. The butcher was about to pop a vein and called me to talk to the gentlemen. I never argued with the customer. Instead, I went to the meat cooler and, retrieved a second pack of chicken legs and told the man this package was all right legs and would be much better. He left with a smile on his face. Sometimes, you must give people what they want even if it doesn’t technically exist.