It was 5:00 pm Christmas Eve 1989, and I was locking the front door of the supermarket where I was Store Manager.
Over the years, I had made it a tradition for me to be the "closer" of the store on Christmas Eve.
Inside the store, my employees were rushing around counting their register tills, sweeping the floor, and generally preparing the store for closing down, so they all could rush home to their families for Christmas.
At approximately 5:30pm, I heard someone tapping on the front door.
“I just got off work and I need to shop for my family", the gentleman on the other side of the glass door shouted.
“Sorry, we are closed.” I answered.
“Please, I really need to shop and you are the only grocery store open.”
In the background several of my employees yelled out to me… “Mr. Gambone, I hope you don’t let him in, we all want to go home.”
I turned to my office manager and said , “Cindy, I feel bad for this guy…will you stick around with me until we get him checked out.”
She looked at me with a frown, “Well, I hope he only needs a few things, OK.”
We let him in…he was very gracious, grabbed a buggy and started to shop.
“I’ll only take a few minutes,” he said.
Then all of a sudden, he turned around and looked at Cindy and me in desperation… “Shit!..I’m sorry for swearing, but I left my wallet in my overalls at work….I can’t believe this!!!”
He abandoned the buggy and started walking towards the front door to leave.
Cindy looked at me and said… “Well, I guess we can leave now.”
“Hold on!” I said… “Sir, you pick up what you need and come back the day after Christmas and pay us.”
Cindy looked at me as if I was crazy. The gentleman was overjoyed and continued to shop.
When he completed his shopping, Cindy and I checked him out and bagged his groceries. He purchased lots of milk, cereal, bread and basic groceries along with some gift-wrap and children’s toys.
We wished him a Merry Christmas as he left and Cindy and I locked up and went home to our families.
.....wait for it...........................................................
...............the gentleman never returned...................
Yes, I took some heat from my Regional Manager when he found out…but that’s okay. I knew in my heart that it was right thing to do at the time.
It is moments like this is my life when I am reminded of the words from my mentor, Lou Z....
“The good you do, will come back to you.”
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and may you and your family have a safe and glorious New Year.
Bob Gambone, The Pecan Pie Guy