I shop at the Trader Joe's on De la Vina in Santa Barbara, partly because it's on my way to the Cancer Center, so I drive by almost every time I'm in town, never mind that it has every thing I need to a real one-stop shop for all of my "Let food be thy medicine" needs.
Little-Known Girlbert Factoid: I like to play a game when I'm shopping in which I offer everyone I come upon a big, happy grin. It feels great to get a smile back, and I always hope I can brighten a fellow shopper's day, but it's still gets me a giggle when they look at me as if thinking, "What the heck is that goon so happy about?" You never know who really needs a smile, and they're so easy to give away! I don't count smiles vs. funny looks, but I like to think that everybody wins.
Now that I've been playing the Smile Game at Trader Joe's for a few years now, I've made friends with many of the employees (some of whom read this blog!), and several of them know that I use food (from their aisles!) and happiness as "medicine" to overcome cancer and stay healthy. Most of them have asked me why I'm so happy, and I tell them, "I'm shopping for yummy food at my favorite store - everyone here is so happy, and there's free coffee and snacks!"
So now that I'm a regular, many of the employees are friends I look forward to seeing, and my weekly grocery errand is more of a social event than a drudgerous task.
So when I went to grab a week's worth of sustenance at my favorite grocery store on Saturday, I got to see all of my friends, and when they asked me how I was, I got to tell them, "I only have TWO days of chemo left!" Several hugs, high-fives, and thumbs-up later, I was on a big fluffy cloud of happy. By the time I got through check-out with my cart full of yummies, my smile threatening to burst from my face, my friend Loren met me at the door with a bouquet of flowers! Who knew a smile could bring so much love, or that there would be flowers at the end?
Five stars, Trader Joe's! The proof is in your people!
Cross your fingers that my Medi-Cal card comes by the time I get back to California next week, so I can pick up my next round of chemo on as soon as I get home. Everybody is getting really tired of hearing, "I'm still pending for Medi-Cal." Myself included.
Me, upon entering the Home Depot, to the first orange-apron-clad college student I see: "Do you have any tub mats?"
Home Depot employee #1, scrunching his face in what can only be interpreted as, Are you speaking English?: "We have welcome mats on aisle 7."
Me: "Don't you sell bath products, accessories, like shower, curtains, here?"
HDE #1: "Hey, Brian, do we have any bath mats here?"
HDE #2, with another look that says, I need a translator: "We have front door mats on aisle 7."
I paused, pondering the Alice-in-Wonderland-ness of the moment. Really?
At least I was only 10 feet inside the store. Normally this type of interaction wouldn't manifest itself until I had wandered aimlessly around the store for a good fifteen minutes, usually in search of the ever-elusive Home Depot Employee. At least I could figure out that they didn't have what I was looking for quickly, without any unnecessary walking or obligitory purchases. Whew.
Upon exiting the store, Boyfriend offered, "Maybe they have a guy named Matt somewhere in there."
This reminds me of a similar experience with Verizon Wireless:
Verizon Wireless customer service representative: "Have I answered all of your questions today?"
Me: "No, not at all."
Verizon Wireless customer service representative: "Okay, thanks, and have a wonderful day."
Don't they record all those calls for quality assurance these days?