I like to think that I take customer service pretty seriously, when it comes to the places I choose to patronize. Certainly, in food service, there is no such thing as returning to a restaurant where the service is poor. The fact that most restaurants charge more than twenty dollars for a steak I could easily make for myself at home, and just as good, I’m only paying for service and a night free of dishes.
Grocery stores, however, are a different story. I hate to announce that I will never shop at Lowe’s Foods again, because the truth is, they have the best discount produce and bakery rack in town, and are in a terribly convenient location for a quick in-and-out after dropping the girls off at school. But every single time I go there, I want to announce, “I WILL NEVER SHOP AT LOWE’S FOODS AGAIN!”
Lowe’s Foods. A local NC grocery store. For my Virginia readers, Lowe’s Foods would like to be Ukrop’s. For my Spokane readers, Lowe’s Foods would like to be Rosauers on the South Hill. For readers in the rest of the country, Lowe’s Foods is the equivalent of your most expensive/snobbiest local grocery store that isn’t quite a Whole Foods or Fresh Market. Make sense?
In many parts of NC, Lowe’s is actually a very nice grocery store. My thought: it should be. It is freaking expensive. I have decided that Clemmons (and it seems most of Winston Salem), however, has a habit of only hiring checkers from the Harris Teeter reject pile. I actually over heard one of them make plans with a co-worker to go smoke pot on the next break. And God forbid the store hire a manager who is old enough to vote, or has, at the very least, graduated from Bonnie Bell foundation and Smuckers fingernail polish.
Nobody in the entire franchise, it seems, knows the SKU for organic mixed greens.
Nine fifteen in the morning, as the suburban stay at home mom knows, is a pretty prime time for grocery shopping, anywhere. Though fewer lines are open, I am very often the only human in the store not using the self-checkout. The insane couponers have already come and gone (if it is a Wednesday) and I rather enjoy wandering the aisles of a grocery store as it is waking up, so to speak.
I have recently been somewhat tied to a few tried and true nutrition solutions to my ever rejecting stomach of hell. One of my old trusty pregnancy solutions happens to be PowerBars. They are longer lasting and afford more protein than a normal granola bar, and are obviously the perfect last-minute-throw-in-my-purse-in-case-of-an-emergency snack item. The PowerBar Harvest Bars are my favorite (Strawberry Crunch, if anyone is looking for extra credit). At a gas station on an average day, one of these bad boys is going to run about $1.89. In bulk, on Amazon, they might go as low as $0.90 but still tend to average at about $1.33 a bar. For the past few weeks at Lowe’s, however, they have been five for five dollars. The last time I was there I bought the entire box of Strawberry Crunch. Today I returned, hoping they had been restocked. There was exactly one left. So I grabbed it, and swung by the discount bakery rack, where I found breakfast number two: frosted cherry turnovers. Add to this some pork chops for dinner, and my Lowe’s Foods morning has so far been okay.
This is of course until I get in line. I absolutely refuse to use the self-checkout in a store where milk averages four dollars and twenty nine cents a gallon. Call me snobby, but it is one of the little luxuries in life I look forward to on a regular basis. I get in the one full service line that is open. The checker is clearly old enough to vote and buy alcohol, which leads me to believe she might have a brain. Unfortunately, this means she is struggling with a body that can barely reach over the ledge to hand me back my card and nearly falls down in the two steps it takes to reach the plastic bags. But I’m trying to be patient.
There are two people in line ahead of me. And do you know what the high school drop out manager (who is manning the self-check out station) does? She walks directly up to the cart behind me and pulls it over saying, “I can check you out over here at self-check out.”
Lowe’s Foods never fails to do this. They are experts at taking the last person in a long line and opening another register for them. The last shall be first indeed. Amazingly, the person behind me is checked out and out of the store and not one, but both of my people are still in line ahead of me. Manager does not return to offer the same grace on my behalf. So I stand.
When I finally get to the front of the line, I’m thinking, three items, no coupons, piece of cake. I even tell the checker, “You can go ahead and put all of this in the same bag, I think it will fit,” because I know they have this policy of using one plastic bag per item, if they can help it.
After getting through the PowerBar and the pork chops with little trouble, she picks up my frosted cherry turnovers. When the item doesn’t scan on first try, she flips the thing over and starts shaking it at the register. (Goodbye frosting, I whisper.) Obviously, the bar code people have somehow bypassed idiot checker land, and of course the bar code is not on the top of the box. Oh but it must be. More shaking. Big sigh. Now we are flipping and turning the delicate plastic box every which way, only to find that her original inclination was correct, the bar code is right there, on the bottom of the box, where it could have safely allowed my cherry turnovers to remain upright until we reached our final destination: kitchen table.
She then practically tosses the turnovers down toward the plastic bags, shoves them in (upside down), and reminds me to “Please come back and see us again.”
Yes. Yes, the next time I feel like running over my head with the car, I’ll be here. Right in your line. With more cherry turnovers, if I can help it.