Be the Allies

You have two choices in life. You can be Allie, or you can be let’s call her Sally.

This Allie is not my daughter Allie, although being her can also have benefits, such as spontaneously bursting into song or finding joy in the littlest things in life, such as texting me excitedly about seeing the latest Wonder Woman trailer.

The Allie I am referring to is a clerk at a local book store. The Sally I am referring to is a clerk at a different store.

My wife and I went Christmas shopping the other day. It was exceptionally busy at the shopping center we went to. Side note: I am really not sure why parking becomes extra difficult for some folks during the holidays. I am resigned that many folks are plenty cool with being just abysmal at everyday parking. But when the parking lots are extra full – come on! Just step up your game a smidge and try and not take up two spots.

Anywho, my wife and I had been shopping for a while at a very busy place. We found it actually kind of fun to be in the hubbub and decided we would just go with the flow and let patience be our superpower.

When we went to check out, we had a fairly decent line in front of us. Rather than lament the wait, we decided that we would celebrate that others were shopping for holiday gifts for their loved ones, and we were all in this big ol’ seasonal traffic jam together. 

When we finally got to the checkout, we were greeted by Allie. She welcomed us with as cheerful of a welcome as you could ask for. My wife said, “Our daughter’s name is Allie!”  Allie responded delightfully as she expeditiously checked us out. Our daughter had just gotten her hair done, and had sent us a picture of her new ‘do. My wife pulled a picture up and turned her phone to book store Allie. “That looks just like me!” book store Allie said. Indeed, it did. They were dopplegangers.

We continued to chat as we checked out, but Allie never got behind or slowed down. She was cruising along, but all the while with a great, big smile and happy banter. As we were leaving, my wife and I both said that it was a delight to have someone like Allie tend to you at a retail store. She was pleasant, funny and efficient.

And then we went to another store. We found what we needed, and as we checked out, I can tell you the exact number of words spoken to us by Sally: Two. Those words were a monotone “Thank you” as she handed me my receipt without eye contact. 

That’s it. Nothing before. No, “Hi.” No, “Find everything you need?” Not even a throwaway comment about the weather. Just robotic indifference.

Now, I have no idea what kind of day Sally was having. I have no idea what is going on in Sally’s life. But I do know that Sally was not forced to work retail at Christmas time. She chose this. And she can choose how she will take on the challenge of being at the register during Christmas season.

I write this not to beat up on Sally. Rather, I share this to salute the Allies of the world. To those of you working retail any time, but certainly during Christmas, when you channel kindness and joy, know that it is appreciated. If you encounter a Sally during the final weekend of Christmas shopping, I encourage you to power on and not worry about it. But if you encounter an Allie, I encourage you to snag a manager and tell them you appreciate her. 

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Mt. Pleasant. You can e-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike or at


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