I was standing in the beer aisle deciding whether to purchase a Leinenkugel six-pack to take to a family gathering. Shopping at this large grocery store was my usual activity on weekends, so I knew right where to find the Leinie's products among the many beer brands.
I was jolted from being lost in thought by the sound of a nearing voice, calling out to me, "Excuse me, ma'am, can you help me? I'm looking for a certain beer and I'm not having any luck finding it."
By now, the fellow had walked all the way to me so we stood face to face. I smiled and said, "I'd love to help you, but I don't work here."
"You don't?" he said incredulously. "But your jacket is the same color of blue that the employees here wear, and from afar your purse looked like one of those inventory scanners. I'm really sorry — but you looked so real as a store employee!"
We had a good laugh and I said, "I don't know too much about these beer products, but I'd be glad to help you find something."
He said, "Oh, that's great, ma'am. I'm actually here picking up a few things for a party and I was told to get Four Loko Watermelon, 24-ounce. I have no idea what this is because it's not something I drink."
Just then, an actual store employee walked by, so we hailed her and explained the quest.
She said, "Oh, yes, come with me." She escorted us (I automatically stayed with him) down the next aisle complete with a walk-in cooler. She waved her hand and said, "Voilà. You'll find just what you're looking for at that end of the shelves."
Yes, we did find several Four Loko products but no watermelon flavor. There were several other flavors, but not watermelon. He said, "Well, guess what, they're just not getting any watermelon tonight. After all this, they'll just need to be grateful for what I bring home."
I said, "I'm glad you found the brand, and you've educated me, so thank you."
He said, "Oh no, thank you. It was fun scouting this out together. You'd be a perfect store worker here if you should ever need a job, so keep that in mind."
[Nancy Linenkugel is a Sylvania Franciscan sister and chair of the department of Health Services Administration at Xavier University, Cincinnati.]