(Click picture to find out what "raTget" means.)
A tourist's trip to London usually involves a visit to Buckingham Palace, where attempts are made, sometimes successfully, to get one of the otherwise stoic Palace guards to laugh. (Click inside these parenthesis to read a clean but funny top 10 list of "Things You Don't Want To Hear At A Tattoo Parlor," that will make you laugh.)
A shopper's trip to Hy-Vee Convenience Store on Mills Civic Parkway usually involves a visit to the check-out counter, where any attempt to get the jovial Jim Kidd to frown will be an utter waste of time.
Stop in and try it. I (fresh-baked) double dutch (cookies) dare ya.
As soon as I stumbled through the entrance to the Hy-Vee Gas Station at 665 South 51st Street in West Des Moines on Monday afternoon, temporarily blinded by the twinkle reflecting off Jim's constantly exposed toofers, I figured we'd have a winning grin.
All Jimmy had to do was keep his chortles super - charged, until I grabbed a snack and sashayed towards the counter...
47 seconds and a counter-clockwise jaunt around the convenience store later, Kit-Kat and Diet Caffeine-Free Diet Pepsi firmly in hand, Whoomp! There it was! The big ole grin of big ole Jim!
As he smilingly scanned my Kit-Kat bar, Jim said, with a voice that must be what Santa Claus sounds like if he ever stayed long enough to chat on Christmas Eve, "These are really fresh. I just put them out."
He could have told me they'd been air-dropped out of a helicopter that left Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory earlier that morning, and I'd have believed him.
I quickly whipped a twenty and a fiver out of my wallet's secret IN CASE OF SMILE compartment (To paraphrase Foghorn Leghorn, fortunately I keep my money numbered, for just such an emergency.), put the cash on the counter, and told Jim why I appeared to be overpaying for my candy bar and soda by $21.89.
"You gotta be kiddin," Jim Kidd(ingly) said through a smile that did the seemingly impossible, and actually increased in size.
He turned and looked behind him at store manager Mike Barger, who was watching and listening in, wearing a pretty good-sized grin of his own.
"Is this legal?" Jim asked the boss.
"Sure it is," Mike smartly replied, without feeling compelled to crack open the Hy-Vee manual, under Weird Blogger: Contests.
I asked Jim what his title was. Before he could answer, Mike chimed in: "Chief smiler!"
Jim told me he'd managed quite well in previous customer service positions, but that "this" - meaning "this greet for show, smile for dough" dealio - was something new. "Nothing like this has ever happened to me before," he explained.
It hasn't happened to anyone, Jim, other than the smiling 4. (Click this sentence to read about winner #1.) (Click this sentence to read about winner #2.) (Click this sentence to read about winner #3.) (Click this sentence to read about winner #4.)
Now watch, and enjoy, winner #5.
Jonnie Wright is a customer service evaluator and trainer, professional secret shopper, marketing strategist and host of The Unsecret Shopper Radio Show, Saturday mornings 8-9am, on 1350, KRNT.
Email Jonnie at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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