Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Several days ago we were in Costco. Yes, we were members in Montreal as well. Part of our mission for that day was to buy several packages of cold cuts. As Nina picked up a package of corned beef she noticed that the date on the package had expired. She then picked up a package of turkey and that package as well was very close to the expiry date. She went to the man behind the counter in the meat department and asked him if they had any fresh packages as she brought to his attention that many of the packages in the display case had either passed their expiry date or were close to it. He pointed to a man several aisles away and told her to ask him. When Nina approached the gentleman and inquired if he was aware of whether or not they had any fresh packages of cold cuts he responded by saying “Lady, in the 16 years that I have worked in this store I have never seen one package of anything whose date has expired.” Nina looked at him quite incredulously and walked away. At that point the same man that she had spoken to originally from behind the meat counter appeared and looked as well at the packages of cold cuts and began to remove most of them since their dates were passed. We could not believe what the 16-year employee had said to Nina and she returned to speak with him. She reminded him that she had been in business for many years, and whether or not the client is correct, you always tell them that they are. To respond that it was basically impossible was a totally ridiculous comment. He answered her by telling her that educated people and uneducated people obviously have different ways and styles of speaking with each other.

The end of this little saga is that while checking out at the cash register in the front of the store the same man came running over to find us. He told us that we should be very careful because Jewish people eat too much sodium and we should watch what we eat. We thanked him for his concern—paid for our few items and left the store.

We have always felt strongly that people need to learn how to speak with each other. Over the years Nina has proposed many business ideas to our family as we sit around the table at a Shabbos or Yom Tov meal. “Guys,” she would say, “I have a great idea for a business.” After several years our sons-in-law didn’t even have to act polite and listen attentively, as they had all decided years ago that this was a great family joke. Bubbie and another business! One of her first “great ideas” was to open a business called “Air Nail”—get it—like Air Mail!!! Or as they say in Quebec, Par Avion. This proposal was to get licenses to open small kiosks in airports where women would be able to have manicures prior to boarding their flights. There always seems to be so much time wasted in airports. Everyone laughed and thought this was another one of Bubbie’s ridiculous ideas, until suddenly kiosks began to appear in airports! Wow—maybe Bubbie was on to something—too bad!

Recently another brainstorm: As everyone in our family is a master maker of chrein (horseradish), learned from Zaidie when visiting for Pesach, maybe we should open a chrein stand at the Teaneck Market when it reopens for the summer season. Another one of Bubbie’s jokes. This time Bubbie went slightly further and contacted the person in charge of the Teaneck Market, who was kind enough to guide her through the process. We would need a permit from the Board of Health, special insurance, a location to make the chrein (not our back deck as always was done in the past) that has passed all kinds of rigorous examinations, a table, a tent-like covering etc. Whoa Bubbie, you are out of their league, she was told. Too bad for all of you Teaneck and neighboring community market visitors. You are missing out on a great thing. Although anyone who comes for a Shabbos meal is invited to taste it. We love to have it with our chulent. Others in the family eat it on matzoh on Pesach and Challah after the chag. If that sounds like an invitation, it is.

Down and out after realizing that none of her dreams for a successful business venture would work out, she has now come up with probably the best idea yet. Nina will open a business in which she instructs employers and employees how to speak to people. This might be real tachlis! We seem to notice that in some unmentionable stores the friendliest people are the people who stock the shelves and check people out at the cash register. It is easy to speak nicely and patiently, but not everyone has these skills inborn. Corporate and retail worlds, here she comes. Get ready. “I am so sorry that the date has expired. I will notify the management right away. Thank you so much for bringing it to my attention.”

Which do you think sounds better? As well, we would write a letter of commendation to the store on that person’s behalf. It’s called menschlichkeit. We should be the leaders in that.

Anyone interested in attending such a seminar please let us know!

By Rabbi Mordechai and Nina Glick

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