Saturday, March 29, 2014

You Had Me at Ginger Snap

It was a ladies outing: 3 friends scouting out all the buzz that is Trader Joe's. I wasn't sure what to expect, but happy distractions greeted all my senses upon entering. First, the daffodils. Yellow upon yellow, buttery rows of them in the window. I chose several bunches and thought about my list, when I heard two of my favorite words: Ginger Snap. "Ginger snap," she called. "Who would like a free sample?" Her name was Katelyn. I had 3 triple-ginger snaps. As with any new store, I was unfamiliar with the layout and asked Katelyn to please direct me to the juice aisle. "I'll take you there," she offered. Katelyn consulted my list and deftly guided me to the crackers, the produce, the pickles and peanut butter. I could hardly believe my good fortune. I had my own Personal Shopper. As we found the items, I explained to Katelyn that I was shopping for specific foods for a friend who is having her second go-round with cancer. The chemo is tricky, rendering her tummy sensitive to many foods, and Trader Joe's has stuff she can tolerate. Katelyn said I was a good friend, to shop for these special foods. "I don't know," I said. "I just want to help in some way." I thanked her for the assistance, accepted another ginger snap, and kept exploring. I found greeting cards and tortillas. The produce section beckoned. Saturday customers jostled their carts, sampling little delectables like vegetable spread over crusty bread. I was taking in the happy buzz of it all, when round the corner came my new friend, Katelyn. She smiled, and held out a stunning bouquet of mixed flowers. And 2 of Trader Joe's signature canvas bags. "These are for your friend," she said. "From Trader Joe's, and me." I must have looked confused. "Or," Katelyn added, "they can be for you, if you want. The flowers. I just want to be a part of this, a part of what you're doing." What a darling, caring young woman. She showed up for work on this day, but more than that, she showed up for ministry. Katelyn attuned her heart to the needs of others, and responded. This is customer service with a warm smile and a ginger snap. If this is a typical experience at Trader Joe's, I'm officially a loyal customer. Thank you, Katelyn. And thank you, Page, the artist who drew the Get Well Card. Your kindness has been delivered, along with the groceries. Strong medicine and good doctoring can fight disease. So can prayer. And so can the kindness of strangers. After high-fives and hugs, I told Katelyn I'd be back, and to keep it vivid. Her face lit up with a smile, enough to trump the window display of sunny daffodils. And I carried that sunshine -- that human warmth and strength and caring -- to Erin, who has cancer. Life is hard. Cancer is a journey that nobody wants to be on, and it's also a tough road for the bystanders who feel so helpless. But when you choose to travel the road with the hurting, it sure is a blessing to meet fellow sojourners, be they angels or cashiers or ginger snap girls.


  1. Kathy, I so admire that young woman! Perhaps send a letter (or email) to the manager. I know that she didn't do it for recognition, but she might be an example to others who have not experienced the journey along side a caring friend. I know from experience that this will encourage her even more. Love you!! Hugs to Erin & Karen

  2. Great story. Thanks for sharing.