Here we are on the cusp of another Summer living in The Land of Palm Trees. We spent the latter part of last week with friends and family in West Virginia and on Father's Day as we motored down I-77 homeward bound to "vacation land" I was reminded of that Father's Day back in 2007 when I drove a 29 foot U-Haul truck on that same path followed by a convoy of cars occupied by my wife, sons, 2 dogs, 2 turtles and a cat. Needless to say, it was a lot easier to unpack at the conclusion of this recent excursion.
It's hard to believe how time flies, reflecting on the past 5 years in our new home. But every now and then something happens to take me back even further into the past. It can be something as simple as standing in line at the grocery store, for instance, just yesterday I found myself in line at our local Publix and a nice young college lady was packing my grocery bags for me at the checkout counter. She smiled and asked me if I needed help to the car with my purchases and I declined her assistance but her kind disposition provided me with the opening I needed to tell her a story about my Summers spent as a "grocery bag boy."
Publix, like many stores these days that provide baggers and "carry-out" service have policies that discourage or disallow tipping for the service. That certainly wasn't the case, back in the days of my youth. I worked at a local Foodland Store during my Senior year of high school and during summers and breaks from college. In fact, tipping was a major motivation for us "bag-boys" to outperform each other and "bring home the bacon" while packing the milk and eggs into the trunks of cars. It was somewhat comical watching the baggers as they jockeyed for position and strategically positioned themselves at registers where known "big tippers" were checking out. One of our regular customers was the wife of a local steakhouse owner and her visits to the store always provided a lot of competition for the crew. Her tip was always a free steak dinner for two at the Bonanza Steakhouse. An informal alert would go up anytime that she entered the front doors. Older, more experienced baggers would temporarily come off of their "special assignments" of re-stocking the soda displays or straightening the candy aisle and hover near the front checkouts waiting for the chance to bag and deliver her provisions to the car, knowing the prize that awaited them for their service. Every bag boy had a strategy. I figured out one that worked well. The head cashier liked to have the bag boys take their 15 minute breaks in a continuous fashion. There were usually four guys working, and she would like to have the breaks "out of the way" in an hour, thus requiring precise timing once the first bagger went on break. I figured out a way to manipulate her obsessiveness by requesting my break as soon as the steakhouse lady entered the store. I would then monitor her progress through the store and if she would approach the checkout area, I would clock back in quickly and present myself for service so that the next bag boy would be sent immediately on break. I figured it was a method to improve my chances by 25%. Sometimes it worked perfectly, sometimes I was foiled. But I always seemed to have a couple coupons in my wallet at any given time and my dates always enjoyed a night out for steak and a movie.
Those Summers of the past have left me with many fond memories, and stories. Maybe I will share some of them with you over the next several weeks, but for now I think the White Gables Club Pool is calling my name, a quick dip before heading off to work for the night. I hope that you enjoy the first day of Summer and the entire Summer season.