Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Let's Talk Turkey

The good, the bad and the ugly of the season are upon us. First the good - astoundingly good customer service, public relations move on the part of a manager at my local Trader Joe's. I was eying the turkeys, really  not convinced I was going to buy one. A  manager asked if she could help me pick one out. "Nope", I said, "a couple of negative experiences with TJ's meat in the past and two years ago, friends cooked  a Trader Joe turkey at the cabin for Thanksgiving and it was so dry and stringy we couldn't eat it."
I finished my shopping and then thought of having to brave the crowds at some other grocery store to purchase a turkey and my knees grew weak at the very idea of one more shopping trip. Muttering to myself that I'd just push my luck, I went back and selected an 18-20 llb turkey.  "Well I see you are giving us a second chance", the manager I'd interacted with earlier called out to me. She came over to the check out line - said something to the cashier and left. When my order was totaled I told the cashier something was wrong - should be about $45 more by my head calculations. "Turkey is on us" she said. My manager said to thank you for giving us another chance". Wow! I was floored, and also delighted because of the unexpected gift, I could double my donation to the local homeless shelter. My loyalty in general to Trader Joe's is high level, love so many of the products and friendly service.

Now for the ugly. As a customer I think I present pretty well - clean, tidy, not pushy, fairly normal in fact.  I was a hunt for a jello mold (and more about that in a minute). I went into one of those huge name boutique kitchen/home stores - OK , it was Crate and Barrel  - and after a fruitless search I asked an assistant if they had any jello molds. She literally looked at me as though I had asked for worm poop and said scathingly, "you need to try somewhere downscale for that kind of item, we certainly don't carry them". Well whoopedydoo lady, I guess you put me in my place!

And guess what? no stores upscale, downscale and in the middle, in this town carries something as simple and utilitarian as a jello mold. Am I sensing a business opportunity here?  I'd have settled for a frog, VWBug, crescent moon shape - anything.  Finally a young guy at Bed Bath and Beyond came up with a simple, brilliant suggestion - use a silicon bundt pan mold. Didn't want anything that large for the cranberry grappa jello I'm planning to go with turkey so settled on silicon mini cup cake molds. That was another good.

The really ugly was reserved for a foray into Target still on the jello mold quest. A well dressed woman, definitely over 50, screaming at an attendant that her one discount coupon entitled her to a discount on all five of the boxed toys she had in her cart.  Meanwhile the 3 or 4 year old she had sitting in the cart began to cry , sobbing, "Don't be rude Nana, don't shout." What a wonderful example to set a child.

And the really, really good - this holiday. It's been my favorite since I got off the boat. I love the sharing, the food, the gathering of family and friends.  My house again this year and if the weather gods cooperate we'll eat outside as usual. It really is easy - no ego involved, no competition, just friends and family sharing in the cooking and prep of a bountiful meal.  We're pretty fluid on tradition - hence the cranberry grappa jello!
Wishing you all a joyful, stress free time with those you love.


  1. Now this is a rare but welcoming story of good customer service. Well done trader joes

  2. Indeed - big cheer for all the individuals and corporations who practice kindness and generosity. We all know that those qualities trickle down and spread out into the world while the other stuff simply sticks to the originator!
    By the way - anyone curious - the Grappa Cranberry Jelly is phenomenal.


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