The Walgreens Guy

walgreens-logo1I’m third in line waiting to checkout with my two items wondering why showing my discount card never lives up to its name. I’m listening to the checkout guy as he engages each checking-out person. A silly aside or wish said by the cashier dismisses the two before me leaving with their needed drugs for whatever ails the body or mind.

It’s my turn to hear banter from a guy who looks late 50’s and is either wealthy and enjoys wearing an embarassingly red vest with his name posted that no one sees or he lives with his aging mother with a promised inheritance. Unanswered questions from me with my two life/death items. I hold up my never-discounted card, but he’s scanning my items. “Do you have your card?” he asks as a robot would. “Oh, right in front of my face, I see, how could I miss it?” he realizes. A big smile appears on his face as his bids me a farewell he did not give the other two. “I hope your life is wonderful,” he says as he begins to check out the next person.

Employees must be instructed during orientation not to judge a shopper’s items. “Oh, bowel movement problems today?” does not encourage a second visit. Is personal attention encouraged? If not, this guy is a natural.

Ministry? Job? Standup comic? He engaged me as he engaged the two before me. I smiled as I left wondering, “Who is that guy?” I recall that some time ago they said, “Be Well” as a customer left but that was the company talking, not the employee. It didn’t last long. I liked that line, but I guess it grew as tired as “Have a nice day” has and still does. (My dad always wanted to respond, “Now, I have to change my plans!”)

“God bless you” is full of meaning when properly used but can easily become the flippant property of a checkout priest. “Thanks for shopping” after Mass? I like that one. “You’re business is important to us” after Mass? I somewhat like that one. “What will it take for you to make a substantial contribution today,” says the car salesmen priest. I don’t like that one.

The Walgreens Guy was personalable in a safe but engaging way. The customer didn’t need to respond, but if it happened then, the Walgreens Guy would continue. I think that’s called ministry. It’s not a conversion or evangelization, but it’s an encounter when each encounter is unique.

“God bless you” has powerful meaning within a context. A “hope for a wonderful life” took me by surprise from a profession that repeats itself. Do we repeat ourselves with tired responses just to keep the conversation going?  His was sincere, and I just may take him up on that promise.

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.
All available in paperback or Kindle on
“Soulful Muse,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons of
Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter – a great seasonal gift
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
“Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of letters written by my cats over twenty years
“Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on
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