People you meet at the places you go
By MOLLIE BROWN / Community Columnist
If you purchase gas, drinks or other items from a convenience store, you’ve probably shopped The Store on U.S. 31 across from Calera Walmart. The time of day you shop determines the employees you meet. Jeanette LeBlanc has worked there five years. She said many customers are like family.
“You get to know them and their cigarette brands, so it’s waiting for them when they reach the counter. It makes them feel good they’re remembered.
“They share life stories and want to hear about us. Last year I had a medical problem and regular customers were worried about me – they’re part of my family,” she added.
Other familiar faces are Charnesia (Nea Nea) Kirkland, assistant store manager, Robert (Bobby) Bailey, an employee of 22 years, Nicole Nix and Felicia McSherton. Gay Kizzire has worked shift relief for more than a year.
“I was a professional nanny before working here,” she said. “I owned a nail technology school and salon for 19 years before that. I like working different shifts because I get to know everybody.”
Kizzire said you can tell a lot about people by the way they wait in line — peeping around, stomping their foot and commenting.
“My boss told me this is my little space and to give my attention to one person at a time. The regulars always smile back and they bring their kids in to see us,” she said.
LeBlanc believes the owner, Wadsworth Oil, is the best convenience store employer.
“We are paid well and given good benefits. In February, I was rushed to the hospital from work, and they checked on me every day.”
Store manager Tammy Sample is a wonderful boss and keeps them on their toes. It’s important the store and restrooms are cleaned, coffee is fresh, shelves and coolers are stocked, trash is emptied and the parking lot swept.
“I started working at a convenience store when I was 14,” Sample said. “I’ve managed The Store for eight years. Wadsworth Oil is a very good company to work for.
“I’ve had issues with past employees, but I have to say my present employees are dependable, loyal people who are dedicated to their job. If you take care of your employees, they’ll take care of you.”
“We feel safe working here,” LeBlanc said. “Police officers meet here to discuss ongoing things or stop in to check on us. We offer them a courtesy cup of coffee or fountain drink because we want to make sure they’re taken care of.”
Mollie Brown can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.