There is this mean-looking guy who works at my local grocery store. He works in the produce department and mainly works the evening shift which is usually when I go grocery shopping. He’s probably in this late 40’s and has a lot of tattoos all over his arms. He’s a little shorter than me & not a very big man so he doesn’t look menacing or anything like that. At first glance he appears to be very “scruffy looking” and just not the type of person you’d want stacking the same fruit that you’ll eventually be putting in your mouth. He never looks up and when I look at him he doesn’t crack a smile, let alone speak. He is definitely not the poster boy for customer service.
I’ve asked him for assistance once or twice before – mainly to find out when the new fruit would be unloaded or to figure out which fruit is currently in season – and he was pretty curt with me every time. I’ve never done anything to him & felt like the way he spoke to me was rude enough to bring it to his manager’s attention.
Last week I was in the grocery store picking out my usual assortment of fruits for my smoothies when there he was – the rude produce guy. When I looked at him to see if he was going to snub me for no reason, I was surprised to hear him greet me. Over a mound of oranges, he actually spoke to me. I couldn’t believe it! Was he talking to someone else around me? Nope he sure wasn’t, he was talking to me! After I said hello back I told him how taken aback I was by his greeting to which he explained that he hadn’t been himself in a while and was just now starting to feel better.
At this point in the conversation, I’m intrigued and want to know exactly what he’s talking about. It turns out that his mother recently passed and he was grieving her greatly. He went on to say that he just couldn’t seem to get past it and was doing the best he could just to show up at work every day and to keep himself together. He said he wasn’t a mean person by nature but he had no reason to smile since his mother died. Then he flashed me the biggest smile I’ve ever seen in a grocery store!
Boy, did I feel bad! Here I thought that he was a disgruntled fruit-man who hated his job, hated his life and could go “postal” at any moment. Clearly I was wrong. He was just a man that missed his mother. His rough exterior was a mere facade for the pain he was feeling on the inside. You can’t fault anyone for that.
The moral of this story is that you can never judge a book by its cover. You never know who is going through something so be nice to as many people as you can!