A Wink and a Smile

Those Progressive Insurance commercials featuring the young people who have bought their first homes and are becoming their parents make me laugh. I don’t know where they come up with their ideas, but whoever that is must follow me around, because they have me NAILED.

I like the most recent versions dealing with shopping. I mean, the man who wants to buy a shirt exactly like the one he is wearing could be me. I have already admitted that I purchased a sweater online from Target that I realized I already owned.

I personally laugh/cringe at the commercial in which that same man and the man supposedly hired to intervene are grocery shopping. At the end, the man goes over to give positive feedback to the manager about the expertise of the man in produce. The first time I saw that commercial, I was laughing all the way through his foibles until he got to that last part, where he talked to the manager.


The other day, I was doing my first Last Big Shop for Thanksgiving. (There are always multiple Thanksgiving shopping adventures that you SWEAR will be your last.) I had a cartful of items, so I elected not to self-check. I also had forgotten my cloth bags, which required me to pay the requisite 10 cents a bag for plastic. It was my lucky day, however, because I snared a cashier who had someone bagging groceries for him. The cashier had been called off the floor where he was stocking canned pumpkin and chicken broth to help out up front at the check stands. That explains why he was pretty crabby. I worked at Safeway in a former life, and so I understood.

The teenaged bagger, however, was NOT crabby. In fact, he was darnright cheerful. “Wow!” he said as he put my groceries in their respective bags. “It looks like you’re going to cook a GREAT Thanksgiving meal!” (He spoke with exclamation points!) I explained that I was simply contributing to the dinner. “Well, I can tell you are a great cook!” he said. “Don’t you just LOVE Thanksgiving?” he went on. “It’s all about the great food!”

I had been feeling a bit overwhelmed and grouchy when I walked up to the checkout stand, but by time I left, I was smiling broadly. That bagger changed my mood completely.

As I was heading out towards the exit, I noticed a man wearing a tie with a name badge that indicated he was the store manager. I mean, he was WALKING RIGHT TOWARDS ME. What could I do? I tried to stop myself. He looks busy, I told myself. He might not actually be the manager, I told myself. He’s seen the Progressive commercials, I told myself.

But I couldn’t help it. “Sir, are you the manager?” I asked. His brows furrowed as he prepared for the bitch he was expecting. “Yes,” he said tentatively. But he didn’t have to be nervous because I pointed to the young man and said that he was one of the most pleasant service people I had ever encountered and what a great job he was doing.

“Well, that’s wonderful to hear,” the manager said with a smile. “You know, today is his first day here. He arrived two hours early.”

And there you go. That young man changed my mood that day. It reminded me that I, too, can change people’s days by smiling and being friendly. I hope that young man has a wonderful future ahead of him.


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