I have discovered a branch of Anna's fan club quite by accident. Actually, it wasn't really by accident, it was more because the main road out of our neighborhood has been closed for months so I started having to go to a different Kroger for the grocery shopping. The road is finally open again but I think I'm gonna stick with our "new" Kroger!
The "new" Kroger, as I've discovered, employs a surprisingly large number of people with mental disabilities. I have no idea what specific kinds of challenges these fellas have, but they all have some pretty big speech difficulties, and I admit that sometimes it's hard to understand them. They all work as baggers.
Well...these baggers are some of Anna's biggest fans. They LOVE her. These gentlemen immediately drop everything that they're doing to help me unload the cart, and they insist on helping me out to the car. I've even had some leave their current line to come over to my line and help me unload. One fellow told his cashier that she could handle her bagging on her own because he needed to help me because I have a baby, haha. I'm sure that cashier wasn't too happy, but I appreciated the help! They all refuse to let me help unload the cart - one guy in particular keeps a sharp eye on me and if he sees me trying to reach for something to put on the belt, he drops whatever he is holding to grab my item first.
They all back away from any kind of tip I offer at the end, and refuse to take it. One guy politely refused, and then told me to take the money and go buy Anna some ice cream because it was hot outside and she needed a treat!!
They all love to talk to me about the baby, and one fellow named Jim loves to tell me stories about his nephews and what kind of toys and games they like. They always want to know what kind of games she likes, how many teeth she has, and if she's talking yet. And if Anna has been particularly vocal that day in the store, they love to tease me about that too. Jim informed me yesterday (with a big smile on his face) that he knew we were coming, because he could hear Anna all over the store before we came to check out!
One guy just about broke my heart one day when he said, "Thank you for talking to me. Most people pretend I'm not here."
I hope nobody thinks I'm being insensitive by blogging about this, but I really do think that these fellows are some of the best employees at Kroger. Usually by the time we're done grocery shopping, I'm hot, tired, and a little frazzled...and getting the help and attention and smiles from these guys always ends the trip on a good note!