When I go to Kroger I am inspired.  No kidding!  The Kroger I frequent is really no different than any other.  Okay, their produce is significantly better than Meijer and they do a fair job with customer service but it’s really not all that special.  That was until about a month ago when I met Amanda who is a checkout person.  


Amanda is delightful.  She’s amazingly proficient at executing the checkout process.  You can tell she cares about getting it right for the customer.  What really makes Amanda special is her ability to engage the customer which is a missing competency for many people her age (I'm guessing 20 something).  Her warmth and friendliness are accentuated with an omnipresent smile.  When you engage in a conversation with Amanda her smile is contagious.  She just has that knack for making people feel good.  


The other day I had a rack of baby back ribs that wouldn’t scan so the bag boy needed to go to the meat department to get a price.  Amanda scanned the rest of my items and proceeded to carefully bag every last one of them while the bag boy took his sweet time getting a price on my ribs.  She was totally calm, not  even a hint of panic as the customers in line behind me began to fidget.  When our bag boy finally returned she thanked him kindly and added the ribs to my order. I paid and she wished me a pleasant day.  Yes, folks Amanda is truly a breath of fresh air...


I almost forgot to share one detail.  Amanda is handicapped.  Her speech is noticeably impaired and she has little to no use of her left arm.  This is both a minor and a major detail.  Minor because Amanda makes it minor.  She doesn’t let it get in her way.  As a matter of fact she is at the very top of the list when it comes to execution and customer service.  She performs her job at an extraordinarily high level.  She misses nothing and runs that checkout station like she owns it.  


This is a major detail because of the message it sends.  I have no idea how much Amanda suffers but I would imagine her challenges are significant.  After spending  a few minutes with Amanda my mind takes me to my self.  The voice inside my head asks questions like:


“What do you have to complain about?”


“Why aren’t you initiating more pleasant, positive dialogue with other humans?”


“Why aren’t you smiling more and just being happy in the moment?”


“What more can you do to help those who are less fortunate?”


The next place my mind goes is to the workforce.  The hourly workers, many of whom couldn’t carry Amanda’s lunch (not that anyone needs to!).  In 98% of the cases it’s not that they can’t it’s that they don’t.  They don’t because in my opinion they are taking life and their physical well being for granted.  They are not conscious of the benefits of truly engaging another human which causes them to miss out.  Excuse me if it seems like I’m  stereotyping.  Of course I’m speaking in general and there are plenty of exceptions.  However, I would imagine most of you would agree with with my assessment.  


So my advice for anyone who is seeking a little inspiration or a change in perspective?  Go visit Kroger and go wait in line to spend a few minutes connecting with Amanda.  If you don’t walk away from that experience with a smile on your face and a pep in your step you might want to check to see if you  have a pulse.  Amanda is overcoming the obstacles in her life.  She has risen to a level of performance that is significantly better than most of her fellow workers. Everyone can learn a life lesson from Amanda.  I know I have... 

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Tags: Kroger, checkout, customer, employee, hourly, inspiration, person, service


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