COLUMN: A special connection in the produce aisle

It started over carrots – the really fresh ones with the bushy green bits still attached...

It started over carrots – the really fresh ones with the bushy green bits still attached.

The foliage hangs out of the plastic bag if you don’t trim it off.

And Gary the produce guy had the required knife, or utility scissors.

Simple as that, really. It doesn’t matter which store. It starts with an S, so take your pick of several.

After a few repetitions of this Saturday morning procedure, Gary observed that my teen daughter and I regularly did the family grocery shopping.

We’re obviously still close, and that’s a good thing, he opined.

Clearly, in her early years, I was doing something right as a father, because if I hadn’t, it would be too late for father-daughter bonding now, he told me.

I’m not sure why, but I found that quite reassuring.

I mean, Gary is not a psychologist, or counsellor. He’s a produce guy in a big supermarket.

But sometimes, the best advice, or sagest wisdom is issued by ordinary individuals who have been there.

Happily, you don’t need special credentials to dispense common sense.

Gary has a stock of that, developed from his own experience with kids and life in general.

I know a few people like that, although there’s only one produce guy among them.

Anyway, he came to know our names, and likewise. He had an advantage there, since he recognized my picture from this page.

He was a regular reader of the paper, and usually had some germane comment to make about a local issue, particularly if I had written about it.

He agreed with my musings on most things, which was good, because who wants to be arguing politics or social values with the produce guy on Saturday mornings.

Over the past four years, Gary followed our travels with keen interest. He marvelled that my daughter and I did a trip together somewhere every year, just the two of us.

Keep her close and communicating, he counselled, and she’ll get through all the trials and tribulations of teenhood without major issues.

And then he’d trim our carrots.

After one of the occasions my wife did the weekend grocery shopping, she remarked that there was a really helpful, pleasant guy in the produce section, named Gary, who chatted with her regularly.

Sure, we said. We’ve known him for a long time.

It was quite some time before Gary put one and two together, and came up with the same family, which is apropos of nothing in particular, other than it illustrates his consistency with his customers.

And that’s the point of this, I suppose.

In this rushed world of big box everything, endless aisles, throngs of shoppers, and emphasis on speedy service, it’s unusual to develop even a superficial relationship with someone serving customers, let alone a first-name friendship that delves into matters such as raising kids and travelling the world.

He’s not the only one in our grocery store like that, actually.

We know Pam at checkout as well – who has graduated from university and is going to become a chiropractor, taking her training in California.

They make Saturday morning “country comfortable.” And they make their store more than a little bit special.

It’s more than customer service. It’s customer connection.

Not every shopping interaction can be like that, but when it occurs, you just have to stop a moment and appreciate it.

Gary just retired a week ago.

We’re sincerely going to miss him.

Just Posted

Saddle bronc rider earns highest score in Cloverdale Rodeo’s history

In 73 years, no one had achieved a 94 in saddle bronc —until last night

Structure fire destroys Surrey tire shop, closes section of Fraser Highway

RCMP have closed Fraser Highway down to traffic from 152 Street to 88 Avenue

Surrey RCMP search for missing 17-year-old girl

Mikayla Logan was last seen in Guildford on Tuesday, May 14

COLUMN: ‘Smart growth’ lacking in Surrey

Surrey council’s approval of infrastructure projects in the Tynehead area shows the… Continue reading

GALLERY: Cloverdale Rodeo Parade brings thousands through the town centre

From ponies to hot rods, the 73rd annual parade had it all

UPDATE: B.C. pilot killed in Honduras plane crash

The crash happened in the Roatan Islands area, according to officials

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Carbon dioxide at highest levels for over 2.5 million years, expert warns of 100 years of disruption

CO2 levels rising rapidly, now higher than at any point in humanity’s history

Multi-vehicle collision on highway in Chilliwack

Accident involves several vehicles, in the westbound lanes says Drive BC

Man dies after being hit by car in East Vancouver

The driver involved is cooperating with police

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

Most Read

l -->