Hello shoppers...

This particular space, on this particular day and at this particular time, is traditionally reserved for the semi-agitated (fully agitated, if it's about raTget) evaluatory musings of your friendly neighborhood Unsecret Shopper, in the form of a detailed Secret Shopper review of a randomly selected local business.

With our nation's birthday so close you can taste it (I'm tasting grilled burgers and brats with double slices of melted real, sharp cheddar cheese, sitting atop bakery-fresh buns, loaded down with all the fixins and parked in their summertime reserved space, alongside their dear friends - homemade potato salad, baked beans, Ruffles potato chips, AE Chive and French Onion Dip and hand-cranked homemade ice cream, all consumed under a shaded picnic table, assisted by 189,320 suddenly appearing out of nowhere flies - how about you?) however, I thought it might be an appropriate time to put down the uber-critical attitude, move slowly away from the 'puter, and take a blogging breather from busting on good, hard-working folks, just because they don't cough up a smile within 1.4 seconds of my appearance. (That program will return at its regularly scheduled grumpy time, next Thursday.)

In its stead, this week? Admittedly, nothing was coming to mind (probably cause me mind was on fooooooood) until 9:37pm last night.

That's when I stood at a check-out counter at Dahl's Foods, 5440 NW 86th Street in Johnston.

I'd just placed my reasonably priced package of whole baby-bella mushrooms on Dahl's trademark crazy-cool semi-circular rotating check-out counter, and was watching it slowly being transported towards a set of obviously skilled, scanning hands, when I happened to notice they were connected to the arms, which were attached to the torso, atop which sat the head, which possessed the face, upon which appeared the most beautiful, warm, unwavering, pleased-to-be-checking-me-out, nobody-has-any-business-being-that-happy-that-late-at-night smile, of Beth - who immediately rescued me from painful writer's block, by becoming The Smile Project winner, #4.

Instead of trying to explain to Beth why I was about to hand her $25, I tried to explain to her boss, Store Director Kenny Kane, why I was about to hand one of his employees, $25.

As Ricky Ricardo once said, he didn't need much 'splainin.

Kenny, in fact, had read the Secret Shopper review of the Dahl's on E.P. True Parkway, and so was familiar with my blog.

"Didn't the night crew do better than the day staff?" Kenny asked.

Somewhat pensively, I replied, "Uh, yeah." I hope you're not married to someone who works there.

Apparently he wasn't, because he didn't punch my lights out. Instead, Kenny was lights-out gracious, even finding another employee to take over for Beth, so I could give her the good news, and the cash.

She accepted both with an even bigger smile, if that's possible.

What Beth represents - to Kenny, her co-workers, the customers she serves, and all of us - is all the possibilities that come with being happy, and choosing to serve that way.

Thank you for making that choice, Beth. This is for you.

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 jonniewright@thebuyosphere.com.

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