Best of Times, Worst of Times
For most people, shopping with us is a routine, ho-hum part of their day that ranks up there on the excitement scale of life with clipping toenails. While we strive to provide a bright spot in their day, we realize it’s rare when customers leave with lasting memories. Nonetheless, our stores stand ready for people in their darkest hours as well as their finest moments, along with a lot of forgettable times in between.
Several years ago, a gentleman who was already having a tough day quickly pulled into our parking lot and hurried inside. He had just finished a dialysis session, but something had gone horribly wrong. Our manager and team member were wide-eyed by the trail of blood the man left on his way to the restroom, but he refused offers for assistance. Within seconds, the store looked like a crime scene and was closed until officials arrived. This was no “cleanup on aisle two” situation, but rather a job for workers in biohazard suits who commanded a $25,000 payday. Thankfully, the attentive staff summoned medical help and the man survived instead of bleeding out at our 7-Eleven.
An employee working at another store a while back was not as fortunate. I received a frantic call from the restaurant owner next door, who told me to hurry because “something was really wrong” with our associate. Tragically, after collapsing on the floor, Buddy never regained consciousness. I remember attending his funeral and hearing the preacher mention that he died doing the job he loved.
Be that as it may, if I have my druthers, I’d prefer not to keel over by our fountain machine.
Many of us have thought about where we might pass away, and some have had the misfortune to believe it might happen sooner than they expected. There are those who hope they’ll be enjoying a favorite meal when they get that final call, and lots of men imagine departing during a vigorous round of their favorite indoor sport. But no one wants to drop dead at a gas station.
Dying is a 100% glamour-free experience anyway, and an informal poll of folks will prove my theory that nobody wants to expire in a Walmart, convenience store or fast-food restaurant. Sure, people aren’t clamoring to perish at a wedding, sporting event or graduation either because of the number of horrified onlookers and fear of paramedics stripping them naked in front of a crowd. But at least those events begin pleasantly. It just seems like an ironic double whammy for a guy to meet his maker while leaving the Quikee Mart with a scratch-off ticket and pack of condoms in hand.
Witnessing and hearing devastating news is commonplace in our stores. Everyone in this business has seen a fun night out end abruptly when drinkers who drive are arrested on their parking lot. I once asked a regular customer how his weekend was. This guy may have been shocked after finding his wife in bed with another woman, but I can assure you I was left stunned and wondering what the appropriate response was to such a salacious story. “Thanks, have a nice day” just didn’t seem fitting.
The Bright Side
Luckily, we are a part of brightening people’s lives, too, on occasion. We sell thousands of lottery tickets each week to optimistic customers chasing their wildest dreams. On May 29, our assistant manager printed up a Quick Pick for a regular customer at our rural store. Little did the man dressed in overall shorts (worn only in the South by men over 60) know, but he was about to make history. The next morning, I read an email that this location had sold Texas’ first-ever winning ticket for the $40 million Power Ball jackpot!
It took a few days before it sunk in that our company would receive a check for $400,000! The Power Ball Party we held for the community was a fun job to help host for the hundreds of people who attended this customer appreciation event, including the winner and his wife. I felt grateful for the opportunity to share in these folks’ unimaginable good fortune.
People may continue to view stops at convenience stores much like trips to the bathroom. Most are not remarkable, but if you don’t believe they can be life-changing, just ask me. Or Elvis.