Service of Surprises that Cost Little and Make a Day

October 26th, 2020

Categories: Customer Service, Pandemic, Retail, Surprises


A small gesture or effort, an unexpected tweak, can make a person’s day. I’ve written about these often. It’s fun to be on either side–recipient or donor.

In Vino Veritas

Since March I’ve bought wine at a local store rather than at the discounted Trader Joe’s that’s 25 blocks away. Each time I visit there are different clerks, all nice, mostly men. I buy inexpensive wine–two bottles at a time–as the store is my last stop on my way home. I’m already loaded up with groceries and still have four blocks to go.

On my last visit Sussex Wine [photo above] was empty and the clerk and I chatted. She could tell that this was not my first visit. She asked me if I was in their system: by sharing my phone number and name I’d be registered in their awards plan. After 300 points a customer gets a $10 discount. They’d never call me, she promised. The men hadn’t told me of this benefit before. I “enrolled.” As I left she told me she’d started me off with 200 points. Wow!

Milking It

There wasn’t a quart of fat free or 1 percent milk in Gristedes, the local grocery store. I walked to the front–milk seems to be as far from the door as possible in every store–and found a clerk sitting on a box restocking the lowest shelf. I asked if they expected a delivery later in the day. He jumped up, said he thought the truck had just arrived, dashed outside and came back with a quart of skim. Golden service! As I left I saw that they hadn’t yet brought out a hand truck to unload the order.

When Everything Goes Wrong

There were two clerks at CVS drugstore both of whom were having time-consuming problems checking out their customers. The manager came, spoke with each and just before he opened a third cash register to alleviate the growing checkout line a floor clerk said she also needed him.

He started to enter my order at the third register–we too ran into a hitch–when he left to again help the two cashiers whose customers had already been there for far too long. I didn’t see him again for quite a while. When he came back to me he apologized profusely and often and looked gloomy. He expected to hear me rant about the delay.

I smiled, said I saw that he was stretched beyond reason and not to worry. His relief and gratitude was palpable. It was a joy to see his mood change to cheerful. As he handed me my receipt he was overjoyed to tell me that I had a $6.00 rewards coupon.

Have you received a happy surprise or been able to please someone unexpectedly, at little cost? Does the stress over the pandemic and/or the election have something to do with some people-helping-people in important small ways?


Tags: , ,

4 Responses to “Service of Surprises that Cost Little and Make a Day”

  1. Helen Rabinovitz Said:

    Actually I’ve started doing something a bit odd! Keeping in mind I’m only 72 and not expecting to die anytime soon…I’ve started gifting my wonderful friends with a piece of jewelry of mine. I want to have the pleasure of seeing their faces when I give it to them. Everyone thinks it’s morbid but it brings me joy and their reactions are priceless. There’s still plenty left for my daughters when I go. SURPRISE!!!!

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Wow, Helen, what a lovely thing to do! Yours is surely a surprise–but it’s HUGE, not a little thing and not at little cost.

    You took my breath away.

    This is totally different but what you do reminded me of what happened to my mother. She often took out for drives an old friend of the family who was a person of modest means. The woman give mom an unusual pin which mom wore the next time she saw Laura. They were headed to Laura’s daughter’s home. The daughter, seeing the pin on mom said, “That looks just like a pin that I gave my mother.”

  3. Lucrezia Said:

    It was a huge A&P with me, dead tired, & wishing myself miles away. A commotion at one of the checkout counters brought the store to a stand-still. A woman was raging against a cashier, accusing her of deliberately trying to beat her out of $0.02! These probably false accusations (2 cents for Chrissake!) had clearly beat the stuffing out of the cashier. She appeared totally spent and white as a sheet as I approached and slowly emptied my cart. The manager, perhaps anticipating a second outburst, materialized asking me if anything was wrong. I explained that I was bone tired, then proceeded to praise the cashier for kindness and patience, leaving both employees in visibly much better shape than before. Regrettably, the two-penny crank did not witness this scene, but revenge was sweet!

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I too feel sorry for the cashier. Standing for hours for minimum wage and having to take abuse from an out of control customer is over the top. A friend worked at a gem of a store (killed by the pandemic) has stories to tell about manipulative, cheating customers. And they aren’t ashamed of their behavior! Amazing. I can’t imagine who their models are. Maybe they never saw the end of Dickens’ “A Christmas Story.”

Leave a Reply

Clicky Web Analytics