The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

February 20, 2013

Mike Pound: Simple, kind gesture changes the day

By Mike Pound

— Sometimes, the smallest gesture makes all the difference in the world.

On Wednesday, I was at the large, 24-hour retail store in our town to pick up three or four items, and I hoped to get in and out in record time.

I mention the large, 24-hour retail store in our town a lot. I do that mainly because I spend a lot of time there.

It’s possible that over the years, I may have made a joke or two about it, but one thing I haven’t done — or at least I hope I haven’t done — is joke about the folks who work there.

When you visit a place as often as I visit this store, you tend to get to know the people who work there. I may not know every employee by name, but I certainly know them by sight.

I’m thinking that working there could be hard. You know how everyone likes to complain about shopping there? Imagine being on the other side of those complaints.

I’ve seen more than my share of rude behavior at this store, and rarely does that behavior come from the folks who work there. Mainly, it comes from shoppers who are unhappy with one thing or another.

I think if I worked at this retail store, I would eventually go crazy. Thankfully, the folks who work there aren’t me. Rather than go crazy, they smile and keep on working.

I think that’s something.

I was going to make beef stew Wednesday, so I stopped in to pick up some beef, bay leaves and a loaf of French bread. After I got what I needed and walked to the checkout aisles, I found something that veteran shoppers know is a rare and special thing: a checkout aisle with nobody in line.

The nice lady at the register rang up my items, and I started to swipe my debit card on the little machine. But when I looked at the machine, I noticed that a previous transaction was still locked on the screen. I showed the nice lady at the register, and she frowned and tried to reset the machine.

Nothing happened.

Then I tried to reset the machine. Nothing happened.

In the meantime, a man and his wife got in line behind me and started putting their items on the counter. I wasn’t sure what the couple were thinking when they realized that something was wrong and that their shopping experience was going to be delayed, but I figured they weren’t thinking happy thoughts.

The nice lady at the register called over a supervisor. When the lady at the register showed her supervisor the machine, the supervisor frowned and then tried to reset the machine.

Nothing happened.

Then the supervisor did something else, and the machine started to go crazy. The nice lady at the register, her supervisor and I all watched the machine go crazy. In a few minutes, the machine reset itself. We all smiled, and I was able to use my debit card to pay for my groceries. The whole thing took about 10 minutes. I wasn’t really upset, but the machine had delayed my shopping a bit. So I was sort of cursing the machine.

But as I started to leave, the nice lady at the register looked up at me.

“I am so sorry about that,” she said.

The nice lady at the register had no way of knowing it, but with those six words, she made my day and made me stop cursing the machine.

DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA for Mike Pound’s column? Call him at 417-623-3480, ext. 7259, or email him at Follow him on Twitter @mikepoundglobe.