Home > Uncategorized > The Power Of Language — Tales From Safeway

The Power Of Language — Tales From Safeway

If you have spent any time with me it is no secret that I can say totally inappropriate things whether I mean it or not. Thank God I usually get away with it too, otherwise, I’m sure more than one lawsuit would be thrown down. But this doesn’t mean I don’t listen to others and think about ways to keep myself from slipping up.

Take today for instance. I was at Safeway for my weekly shopping when I ran into the following two scenarios.

Scenario one – Checkout Line:

Cashier: Should I put it all in one bag? (snarky voice)

Me: It’s all you dude. You’re the pro.

Cashier: Apparently you don’t know me very well… (still snarky)

(Hands me an over-stuffed bag on the verge of ripping)

Cashier: Good luck getting to your car. (Looks towards next person and starts checking)

Now we all know Safeway is known for its smiling cashiers. It was made store policy to call the customer by their name (read off the club card) and smile at each patron a few years back. The change helped, and stores became friendlier. Sure there was the occasional dude who thought the checker was hitting on them, but the kindness and sincerity played a huge part in the overall shopping experience. This however, was anything but.

Problem #1: By trying to be smart and witty he created an instant barrier between us. I was put on the spot to tell him how to do his job, when in fact, I was not bagging the groceries and did not know if/how they would fit.

Problem #2: By offering no witty comment to make me feel like he was less of an ass, I assumed he was, and by handing me an over-stuffed bag felt he wanted me to fail for my inadequacy of telling him to do his job.

Problem #3: It really didn’t offend me, but got me thinking, “If this guy says this to me, what happens when it’s an 80-year-old women?” Overreacting? Sure, maybe, but still, his words were a far cry from the Safeway I have got to love over the years.

Scenario two – Walking outside

Activist: Do you want to destroy the environment?

Me: Um, no.

Activist: You’re a good person. Please sign this petition for saving mother earth.

Me: Um, what’s it for exactly?

Activist: Good stuff, saving the environment and keeping the Republicans from screwing it up.

Me: Okay (Still skeptical) Is there a specific piece of legislation?

Activist: Of course! It’s to stop all drilling in Colorado immediately. So will you sign it?

I figured asking anything else was useless and kindly left. Should I have signed it? Maybe, but after only eight months in Colorado, it is painfully obvious Colorado made it’s mark by mining and the idea of stopping everything seems a bit far fetched.

Problem #1: She played to my emotions by asking if I cared about the environment. It would have been okay if it wasn’t so much of an ambush. Of course I care about mother nature, but the second you make your cause only about that, then I have no exit strategy, and if I attempt to actually think it through I’m a villain.

Problem #2: Drilling is obviously a necessary evil, so tell me why we need to stop and don’t just assume since I live in Boulder I’ll sign any petition put in front of me. I know she is getting paid per signature, but still, the sale is the battle here.

When I got in my car and drove out of the parking lot it was then that I started reflecting on these two instances and how they could teach me. 1) I may think I’m being sarcastic, but in reality it’s offensive. 2) If i need to sell something I can’t ambush the person putting them into a corner. 3) Next time I’ll use the self checkout.

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