In Tears at The Checkout


This morning A cashier caused me tears with the interaction I witnessed at her check out.

I had just attended a large multi-chamber networking event, and left it realizing I hadn't even noticed if there was food. 

I was hungry, so I bypassed the studio and stopped at Trader Joe's to grab a few Cliff Bars to replenish my office stash. (Never mind, to revive my blood sugar)

Before I got out of the car, I scanned my email to make sure I wasn't missing anything urgent.  

I found a message from a friend in Canada who was recovering from serious heart surgery, as she received a serious diagnosis for her son.

During my work hours, dare I say, it becomes too easy to just see stuff like this as words on a page, thinking I will come back to it later when I can be more present.

Today was different. I paused before entering the store to connect her with a resource I knew for his condition.

These "words on the page" we're coming from one of the most radiant and smiley people that I know on the planet. I say this with no exaggeration, since she was one of my subjects during photo assignments in several countries as well as US states over a 12 year span.

After sending a "digital handshake" email I proceeded at a faster pace to make up for using "work time."

There was only one customer in front of me, at the checkout I approached. The cashier paused during that order to engage in brief conversation, then intercepting the customer on completion for a hug.

More than the quick hug to a friend, this was full-on, heartfelt glom that stopped me from approaching too quickly.

I could see the cashiers face with a warm expression as her eyes were watering. "You have a great day now"  she said while wiping her eyes and turning to face me.

"How are you doing this morning?" Having done her job for several years, I wasn't going to allow her the "business as usual" small talk at the register.

I replied "not as great as you are". My curious undertone was enough for her to share a bit more. Information that dispelled my idea that she knew that person as something more than a customer.

 "It always tears me up to see a customer in tears. I couldn't resist giving her a hug, she was having a bad day. "

I said "great, thank you for sharing the tears" as I tried to smile away my own. I let her know what a great thing that was before I left.

As I walked away, two things occurred to me.

1 - Who is the manager so that I can praise this person, not just for what she did for that customer, but what she did for me in that moment!  

2 – would I have noticed that as deeply if I hadn't opened up my own heart to my friend before walking in? 

A dear friend and amazing teacher has engrained this statement in me. A teaching that far-transcends it's obvious meaning.

"Notice what you're noticing." 

Having photographed and worked with Mary Morrissey for the past 16 years, those words go with me everywhere. 

I am noticing that since I deleted the Associated Press app from my phone, and started listening to more Wayne Dyer in my car instead of the news, that I'm seeing more of the things in life that I absolutely appreciate! Giving, sharing, compassion, people playing "pay it forward" at parking meters...

Thank you Shelley, for causing me pause to reach out, and thank you "J., Jennifer" for showing me what you showed me in your line today.

It took everything I had to not title this post "Clef Notes" as play. It all happened over my Cliff Bar fix... 

It took everything I had to not title this post "Clef Notes" as play. It all happened over my Cliff Bar fix... 

You just added more Purpose to my work as a teaching writer as well as Entrepreneur! 

You are the epitome of my belief that business is ALL about relationships, and Trader Joe is as fortunate to have you as that customer is.

I hope that this message touches others that begin to notice the Jennifers in their own paths. 


Brian Geraths

Passionate for nature, life, writing and sharing, this site is mutually dedicated to my three favorite vehicles through life - Photography, Writing and Speaking. As professional photographer I was (and still am) in my favored "Observer" mode. As writer, these observations exposed a deeper understanding into ethics, authenticity and leadership. As speaker, I get to be selfish. In giving we gain - big! By helping you to discover your own authenticity, passion and where you too are a leader, I get a huge pang of fulfillment. Yes, I am a giver - the most selfish sort of person that ever was. (that is, once you realize how great the results of giving truly are)