Dear Grandpa Portobello,
I’ve literally never called you that but that’s the name I’ve assigned you and our funny relationship. It always makes me feel a little happy when you come into the store to buy your nectarines, mushrooms, and all kinds of produce.
Do you remember why we started to remember who the other was? It was when I was processing your Swiss brown mushrooms and because I was relatively new to the job and you didn’t want me to process your groceries wrong, you told me they were Portobello mushrooms. Even when I thought they looked like Swiss brown mushrooms and I asked you which part of the store you got them from by pointing out the Portobello and Swiss brown aisles, you insisted they were Portobello mushrooms. So I processed them as Portobello mushrooms and you pulled out a small, square Ziploc bag from your breast pocket that had your money in to pay.
Then when you paid, you went and complained to the owner of the store that I overcharged you with the Portobello price. So when I asked why you told me those were Portobello mushrooms in front of the owner, you just stayed silent and demanded a refund. I realised you weren’t going to admit anything so I gave you the refund and we all went about our day.
Then the next day you came back and of course we remembered each other! You accidentally almost got me in trouble and you had embarrassed yourself in front of me. This time you only bought your usual nectarines and peaches, and I said something along the lines of “Hello! The Portobello man from yesterday!” and you didn’t reply but you had a sheepish smile.
Since then we talked a lot about the nectarines you buy, how you used to eat a lot of white muscatels when you were a little boy but we only sell black muscatels, and tell me to have a good day. Each time you pull out your Ziploc wallet, I smile because I know you’re going to refuse any help I offer to count out the change.
I really enjoy your company, Grandpa Portobello. You add a light, fun moment to my sometimes very monotone job. What’s the secret ingredient to an enjoyable day at work? It’s customers like you, Grandpa Portobello!
A Letter Per Person