One Saturday morning I needed to pick up some beer, some fire logs and some snack type items for a fire pit gathering we were having. Where I live the best place to go to get these items is Wegmans. The best way to describe a Wegmans (if you are not familiar with Wegmans) is that it is a Super Super Market. Wegmans is like a Super Hero of Super Markets, like the leader of the Justice League of Super Markets. The Liquor Control Board of the State of PA restricts the sale of alcohol to only certain types of stores. Wegmans is the only grocery type of store in our area that can sell wine and beer. It is that awesome.
The place is always crazy packed with people and I figured by getting there at 9am I could avoid lines. When I pulled into the parking lot I was surprised at how many cars were already there. I walked in the store, the smell of fresh breads, soups and sauces were already wafting through the air, I was greeted by at least a half dozen employees. I asked the employee closest to me where I could find the fire logs. He had to ask the person next him and that person had to call someone on a radio. I found it odd that greeters did not know the layout of the store.
I was told the logs were at the opposite end of the store, past all the check-out lines. As I walked in that direction I realized that almost every cash register was manned by a Wegmans staff member and that there were no customers at all. I grabbed what I needed and headed in the other direction to get the beer. While walking I noticed that there were more Wegmans personnel mulling about the produce section. The place was mobbed with employees.
While paying for my beer I asked the woman at the cash register why there was so much staff on hand. She told me that the Wegman family was visiting the store so there were people from corporate as well as staff from another Wegmans to make the store seem more active (which explained why no one knew where the logs were). She told me Danny Wegman, the CEO, and his two daughters, both VPs in the company, as well as other bigwigs were at the store for an event.
I don't know why, or what came over me, but for some reason I knew I had to go and seek these people out.
Carrying my 12 pack of beer I walked back to the produce section. There were clusters of nicely dressed men and woman, all wearing Wegmans badges, scattered about the area. I approached one group.
"Excuse me," I interrupted the conversation. "I was told that the Wegman family is here."
A man in a dark blazer stepped forward. He pointed his finger to a large group of people gathered by the apples about 30 feet away. "You see the guy in the leather jacket? That is Danny Wegman. He is the CEO."
"What's he doing here?" I asked.
"The family makes sure they tour every store, to make sure it meets the standards."
"I want to get his autograph." I said.
The man in the blazer gave me a weird look.
"There is too many people around him." I added.
The woman next to the man in the blazer chuckled and chimed into the conversation.
"The woman standing there," she said pointing a few feet from me. "She is a Wegman. She is Danny's daughter."
"Is her last name Wegman?" I asked. "I don't want an autograph signed by Jones or Smith or something different if she is married and took her husband's last name."
"No. It is Wegman. Nicole Wegman." the woman said.
The woman then called Nicole over.
"Hi." I said shaking her hand while balancing a 12 pack of beer on my left arm. "Can I get your autograph?"
She smiled and blushed a bit. "Oh my. No one has ever asked me that before. Are you serious?"
"Yes." I said. "I love this store and I think it would be cool to have one of the Wegmans sign my receipt."
She blushed a bit more. The people around us chuckled and fawned over their boss as she asked me a few questions about why I liked the store. She genuinely seemed interested in my responses. Someone handed her a pen. I balanced the 12 pack on my raised knee as an improvised writing surface and handed her the receipt.
"I am so excited. No one has ever asked for my autograph." She said.
"I'm Nicole." she said. " Thank you. This is a first for me."
I shook her hand again.
"Thank you." I said. "I am Bill. You never forget your first."
I walked away.