Posted by: GeekHiker | June 29, 2009

A Little Corporate Luv

(Finally commented on everyone’s comments on the last two posts.  Sorry for the delay.)

One of the things I miss about living in San Francisco is the corner grocery store. Any way you look at it, it’s just stupid to have to get in your car to pick up a half gallon of milk or a bag of chips.

The Best Friend still lives near one up in San Francisco. Everyone there knows her, and when she & the boyfriend walk in, they’re greeted by name.

It’s a nice, friendly, neighborhood feeling.

Wal-Mart, as many of us know, uses the same idea. Even if you don’t live near one, we’re all pretty familiar with the “greeter” concept: old guy stands near the door to give you the cheery “hello” as you walk inside. People return the gesture, despite the fact that if the same old guy did it passing them on the street, they would yelp, cover their children’s precious eyes and hustle them into the car mini-van SUV eco-friendly hybrid.

(Ah, the children. One of the network news broadcasts is doing a thing on “children of the recession”. Because nothing is really important unless we’ve had a six-year-old’s perspective on it. Or a baby-boomer’s. Either will do, as those are the only demographic groups that really count, apparently. But I digress.)

Anyway, I’ve largely missed the phenomenon. Wal-Mart isn’t that prevalent in most of LA, despite their best efforts. (The battle of Inglewood to keep a Wal-Mart out, despite the company’s attempts to manipulate local zoning laws via ballot initiative (written by Wal-Mart) springs to mind.)

But that hasn’t stopped the greeter concept from expanding. Far and wide, from the looks of it.

Walking into the electronics store while running errands today, some young kid yelled out “welcome to Best Buy!” He was chipper. But it wasn’t real chipper, it was fake “I’m being paid to do this chipper act” chipper. I rather wanted to deck the little punk right there, just to put him out of his misery.

Heading to the bookstore next door, a cute girl greeted me, shoving a sale flier in my face.

No I didn’t deck her. But I was starting to get annoyed with all the corporate “love” being foisted upon me.

The final straw was at the grocery store. Cleverly hiding between the deli counter and the plastic bag recycle bin, he sprang on me utterly without warning.

“Hi!” he chirped, “Is there anything I can help you find today?”

Not having expected this at the grocery store, I had to stop myself from reacting with my cat-like reflexes and taking him out right there.

(Okay, so my “cat-like reflexes” are more like a cat who’s drink on tequila and the size of Rush Limbaugh trying to do Jackie Chan moves, but stay with me here, people.)

I grunted something and went to get what I needed.

Arriving back at the front of the store with my single item, I headed to the self-checkout line. It was hard not to notice the glaring fact that the store, which had gone out of its way to be all fake-personable when I walked in, had no qualms with making me scan and bag my own groceries out.  So I guess warm-and-fuzzy service carries greater weight than oh, I dunno, customer service.

Apparently, corporate “love” has boundaries, ya see.

I have no problem bagging my own groceries, mind you.  It’s efficient and time saving.  But if I’m going to save time there, don’t waste it by trying to be my friend at the door!


It makes me miss the corner grocery, where they said “hello” and “goodbye” and knew my name (before reading it off the credit card receipt) and were happy I came in just that much more.

Corporate love? Just ain’t the same.



  1. LOL — the jab at Generation B/Y totally cracked me up! It’s so true — it’s ALL about Gen B or Millennials these days. Apparently, nobody cares about us poor Gen Xers anymore (okay, I am not even a Gen Xer, but, whatever).

    I have a different perspective on this corporate luuuv thing. Every time I see the greeters I feel sorry for them — it takes A LOT of effort to be cheerful to EVERYBODY that walks in. Sometimes I can see the grimace under the smile and it breaks my heart (not really, just sayin’ ;-)) I often just smile back at them pleasantly but noncommittally and keep walking. Sigh, blame the stupid corporate jocks! They really should get more people roving the shelves — oftentimes in gigantic places like Fred Meyer there is NOBODY to ask a simple, quick question unless you walk all the way back to the cashiers. It’s like the live version of the automatic voicemail nightmare (sometimes you just need to talk to a real person!). Smaller stores like Trader Joe’s are so much better.

  2. Sorry to say I like the convenience of the large stores. Most of our shopping is at the nearby Wal-mart. I understand the folksy goodness of the neighborhood corner store but I also know the low prices of the neighborhood Big Box, greet you at the door with a strained smile, store.

  3. I think the deli guy deserves a little slack – he really could have provided an actual service beyond greeting. None of the greeters really annoy me when I’m shopping, however I avoid the perfume spritzers in Nordstrom like the plague. I’d fully support your “decking” of one of them.

    How come you chose the self-check-out lane if you wanted customer service? You’ve perplexed me with that one.

  4. I don’t like the people who greet you and talk all sweet and then try to get you donate to some random “charity”. It’s like they’re thinking ‘Kindness costs a quater. A dollar for some down-home sweetness. A fiver for some friendliness’

  5. I’m a Gen Xer, and it’s weird around here. I think it’s a city thing…the corner store here knows me by name. Even knows what I order if I’m running late and need breakfast on the run.

    I hate Walmart. I’ve always hated Walmart, but it’s even more so since the whole disabled woman thing. The “greeter”??? It seems almost fake to me. It’s weird.

  6. Yeah, that whole greeter thing perplexes me. Especially in gigantic stores where none of the staff knows where anything is.

  7. You have misrepresented this content of this post in the title!!! I thought it was going to be about boardroom table shenanigans. Sigh. 😉

    However, “(Okay, so my “cat-like reflexes” are more like a cat who’s drink on tequila and the size of Rush Limbaugh trying to do Jackie Chan moves, but stay with me here, people.)” LMAO! 🙂

  8. i served a little hard time in retail when i was younger, and many companies use the greeter when you walk in the door as “loss prevention” — a way to deter theft. the idea is to create the impression that they’re watching, so no funny business, you hooligans. leaves an even worse taste in your mouth than the fake corporate love, doesn’t it?

    • I worked for several years in a family-owned retail situation, and about $1500 of merchandise slipped away from the front display one weekend (they actually removed items from the boxes). An electronic dinger was installed to announce ea new shopper. voila, no more theft.

      btw, the greeter as loss prevention is an international approach.

  9. K – You know, I don’t usually try to be rude to them. I don’t walk past and just ignore them, because, really, they’re just people like me working to pay the rent. But I agree, it’s the corporate idea that’s annoying.

    Homer_Dog – There is a convenience factor to them, undeniably. But going into a gigantic Wal-Mart is kinda overwhelming!

    Mel Heth – But he ambushed me! LOL As for the check-out lane, the only other option was the ONE lane that was open, with backed up carts with 100 items in each!

    TheCoconutDiaries – Heh

    Melinda – I’m jealous that they know your breakfast!

    Hebba – Weird, isn’t it?

    Mrs Chuck Bartowski – Sorry to disappoint, but glad to give you a laugh

    Magenta – You know, I hadn’t thought of that aspect. So are the old guys at Wal-Mart trained in Kung-Fu?

    m4891 – Maybe I’ll look at the greeter square in the eye when I walk in and say “I know what you’re REALLY up to!” LOL

  10. Yeah man, it’s rough…they’re depressed I’m moving.

  11. I love my neighborhood stores. I know people by name and they know me. The bagel guy at the deli sees me and starts preparing my bagel just the way I always order it, the grocery delivery guy passes me on the street and says hi in recognition. I love being part of a community. And I agree with you, when I visit my mom and go to Wal-Mart (ONLY if Target doesn’t have what I want, which is rare) the fake, “I’m so happy you’re here” rubs me the wrong way.

  12. greeters make me uncomfortable – ’nuff said.

  13. CripKitty – I’m sure they are!

    Dingo – See, that’s what I miss!

    BlakSpring – LOL

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