Birthday at Trader Joe’s

The cashier’s at Trader Joe’s are just so nice. They are always accommodating, usually greet me with joy, and occasionally launch into an extended conversation. In time for birthday week, I was treated to a conversation with one of the latter.

“Hello!” my cashier cheered, when I dropped my basket at his station.

“Hello,” I answered with a grin.

Then he muttered something.

“Sorry?” I asked, puzzled.

“Oh, I was just muttering,” he said, and paused. I was trying to figure out what I’d done wrong, and how to make it up him, when he explained; “I was just saying that you are so young.”

“Oh?”

“You look so young.”

“I get that a lot. I’m probably older than you think,” I continued with a smile.

“Paper or plastic?” he asked.

“Actually I brought my own bag,” I said, as I pulled it out. “Hopefully everything will fit.”

He nodded, and began packing up my groceries. “There’s a girl who comes in here, looks 12. She looks so young. Told me she’s 19.”

“It’s my birthday this week,” I told him encouragingly, as though that could account for the apparent age discrepancy which was bothering him.

“How old will you be?” he asked, placated.

“25.”

That was it. He shook his head vigorously. “That’s young. And you look younger. Really?”

“Yes,” I confirmed. I narrowed my eyes. “You don’t look that old either.”

He chucked, “I’m 52.”

“What? No,” was my amazed response, as I paid the bill.

“Yep,” he said, and handed me my neatly bagged groceries. “Do you want to enter into the raffle, since you brought your own bag?”

“Of course! Maybe it’ll be a birthday win.”

Our conversation completed, and my bags packed, I thanked him.

Then we wished each our good health and youth.

To our special correspondent on her birth day, I’m sure he’d wish the same.

Seasonal Shopping

I refuse to shop from November 1 through January 31. The festive music drives me batty. The tinsel displays make me dizzy. Throw in some flashing lights and I’m more likely to go epileptic than clean up on holiday specials. So I stay home – comforted by the irresistible drone of NPR and my non-blinking florescent lights – and wait patiently for spring to come. Only once the snows have cleared and the be-ribboned displays have been put away will I venture back into stores. With holiday music gone back to the dark place it came from, the ever-annoying muzak is music to my ears. It’s the final signal that the holiday harassment is over.

Not that I plan to go shopping from February 1 through October 31, either. But it’s nice to have the option.

However, all this might be changing. Because according to Real Simple Magazine, the stores have found a sure-fire way to lure me in during the holiday season.

Hungry? Merchants figure you are, and that’s why so many now offer on-the-house beverages and noshes in an effort to get you to browse longer. “Putting out a plate of cookies helps set the tone that shopping is an experience, not a transaction,” sad Donna Sturgess, the president of Buyology Inc., a New York City-based marketing consultancy and research firm. This small gesture translates into dollar signs. A 2011 Columbia Business School study found that shoppers are willing to spend more when they’re relaxed. This month, also keep an eye out for in-store cooking demonstrations, which are growing in popularity. Sturgess notes that demos are especially effective as they allow the merchant to demonstrate and talk about the product while injecting savory aromas into the air.

Can someone find me a kosher version? Because I’ve heard great things about these holiday sales.