I make no secret of the fact I work for a retail company. It has been my job for over 27 years. I have seen lots of unusual and colorful things over the years. Some are hilarious, and others are just tragic. Recently I took over the online sales of the store. But what I was witness to today was an entirely new aspect of my job. So here I will share with you, Passion and Jalapeno Kettle Chips. A lesson for living every day of life.
Jalapeno chips and passion?
Oh, I hear the complete disbelief in your eyes from here!
How can jalapeno chips be a lesson in anything except how to burn your mouth or someone being annoying when they chew chips too loudly? (I’m looking at you, Janet)!
If I had not seen it with my own eyes and heard it myself, I probably would not believe it either.
But this man, dare I say this unintentional holy man opened my eyes to bringing passion, pure fire and brimstone passion to something as simple as jalapeno kettle chips.
I know it sounds outrageous and silly, but read with me for a minute and let me convince you, as this man convinced me, the power of having so much passion for something seemingly inconsequential.
The first day of the stores’ new online groceries sales was going well. I had made it through 11 hours of managers getting in the way of getting actual work done. Grand re-opening celebrations, nervous employees and cautious customers.
The worse thing that happens up to this point was an employee forgetting to give a customer one of their items. I call the customer, and explain and the mistake to her. She is just so pleasant, and understanding about the error. She offers to come back to the store and pick it up, no problem.
I’m sure she wasn’t the happiest about having a missing item, but why get upset about an honest mistake. Calling her to admit the error, which she didn’t even know about, was the right thing for me to do. I gave her a fruit platter for being so pleasant about the whole thing.
Isn’t that the way we all want to be treated? Someone does something wrong unintentionally; they admit the mistake, apologize, and everyone moves on.
Life would be so much more pleasant if we all could treat each other with the same respect we want to be treated.
Ok, I get it, I promise you a story about passion and jalapeno chips, Yet I give you a feel-good story about treating people with respect.
I know, I figure why not start with how we all want to be treated and then give you the reality of life.
See, for me, the lasting life lessons are not always pleasant. Sometimes the most eye-opening moments are shown to us by the most obnoxious, rude and unpleasant people we meet.
Jalapeno chip guy is that guy in this article.
The hour approaches
As five pm approaches, I walk around and tell all the employees that work under me thank you for all their hard work. Let them all know what a good job they did.
We all like to get the appreciation for the work we do, and I was going to make damn sure they knew how grateful I was to them for doing their best and making the day a huge success. Without their hard work and dedication, none of it would have been possible.
Here is where the day takes the exciting twist, up to this point everything has gone spectacular.
Ever have the feeling things are going too well?
Unlucky for me, I did not have that feeling at this moment. I thought I was going to get out of work with everything having gone my way!
Five o’clock and all goes to hell
I am so very close to going home now; five is just a few minutes away!
That’s usually when the rug is pulled out from underneath us. It’s those moments when we think everything is going ok and then WHAM! Just like one of those old comics, BAM! BIFF! WHOMP!
My radio squawks,” Rob? Rob? Can you come outside for a minute? A customer has questions about his chips.”
I look at the clock, should I answer the call or pretend I already hit the time clock? What is the harm in letting one of the salaried managers handle this?
But, I tell myself, this is yours. The good and the bad all belong to you, one without the other is meaningless. Besides, I say to myself, “It can’t be to bad; it’s about chips.” I head out the door to take care of the problem.
Did I ever mention I’m wrong a lot?
Jalapenos are not the only hot thing
Walking out the door, I see one of my employees; she looks like she is about to cry. She stands about four feet from the open door of a silver older looking vehicle. I can’t see inside the car due to the afternoon sun reflecting off the windshield, but I can almost sense a wave of writhing outrage emanating from the vehicle.
What the hell?, I ask myself, didn’t she say this was about chips?
I move over to the open door and am faced with what I can only describe as a mask of anger. Try to imagine one of those Kabuki theatre masks depicting an angry spirit. That is what this mans face reminded me of, a fierce, vengeful spirit.
Like all evil spirits, they should have a name, so I am going to call this one Chip.
Chip is pissed. Not the fun British slang of pissed, but the American version. 100% pure American righteous anger pissed.
In other words, Chip is very, very unhappy.
Lessons to be learned according to Chip
“Good evening, sir,” I say to Chip, “what seems to be the problem?”
Pay attention here; this is where the lesson in passion gets rolling.
Lesson 1: We are all idiots
“I will tell you what the problem is,” Chips spits out, “I ordered four bags of the generic version of the Jalapeno kettle chips and they are not in my order. The only reason I ordered anything from this damn store is so I could get those Jalapeno kettle chips and now you idiots are telling me you don’t have them!”
Chip stops to draw a breath. You see, Chip is an older man, and he is holding on to an oxygen tank. He is not what any person would call a healthy specimen in the least. I am worried Chip may have a stroke because he is so riled up.
None of this stops Chip. Chip is not going to let something as trivial as life get in the way of the important things, mainly his love of Jalapeno Kettle chips. The generic kind mind you, not the name brand. The importance of this will soon be apparent.
Lesson 2: “Sorry” is pointless
Chip has a lot more to say.
“Every time I come into this store you are out of the Jalapeno Kettle chips, those are my favorite chips. Every time I come in here you are out of those chips. The guy in charge of the department told me the company only sends eight at a time. I don’t know why they only send eight, because those are the best chips. And if they are always out of them, you think those idiots would send more!”
At first, I felt sorry for Chip. I thought if the essential thing in Chips life were those Jalapeno Kettle chips, well that is just sad.
Who wants the whole point of their lives to be about Jalapeno kettle chips?
But then I stopped for a minute. What if Chip treated everything in his life with this much passion? What if Chip not only cared about chips this much but cared for everything in his life with this much intensity?
“I’m sorry, Sir…”, I started to say.
Chip cut me off.
“Oh yeah, you’re sorry, you’re all sorry. What is your sorry going to do for me?”
“What is your anger going to do for me?” I replied.
This statement did cause Chip to pause for a moment.
Lesson 3: More is not enough
“Sir, if you will give me a minute, I will run back into the store and see if there is anything I can find. If that is ok with you?” I asked Chip.
He graciously permitted me to try.
I ran back in and looked for about five minutes to locate these chips that had become the focal point of not only Chip’s life but, now, mine as well.
After failing to find any of the generic brand chip, I got four larger bags of the name brand Jalapeno Kettle chips to take to Chip. These would surely please him, not only was the cost of one equal to the price of four of the others, but they were a much larger size. And I was going to give them to him for free!
Armed with such treasure, I was sure Chip would be pleased.
Did I mention I am wrong a lot?
I passed my manager on the way out the door; she followed me to see what was going on.
“Sir,” I said to Chip, “I cannot find any of the generic kind, so I brought your four larger bags of the name brand. I am going to give them to you for free. Will, this satisfy you?”
“No,” Chip replied, it will not.
Lesson 4: The Way of the Chip
This offering to Chip only seemed to incense him more.
“Those Jalapeno chips are spicier than the generic ones. Plus they do not have as good a crunch as the generic ones do. I have friends coming over to play cards tonight and WE ALL like the generic ones better than those. I told them I was going to use your app to buy these chips so we could have them at our card game tonight.
Now all I will tell them is, it’s @$#& and not to use it. I wasted thirty dollars buying food just so I could get those chips and since you don’t have them this trip was pointless. This place is just a bunch of idiots, well except you two.”
He pointed at my employee and myself at this point.
“Since you two are trying to help me. I can’t believe your company spent millions of dollars doing this and it is all stupid and for nothing, since they don’t have my chips. Stupid and a waste of money!” Chip finished.
My manager started to get involved at this point; I waved her away, I wanted to see this through to the end. I had to know how this man could hold such passion for a bag of chips!
Lesson 5: Hate them, but take them anyway
“Ok Sir,” I said. “If that is how you feel, I will gladly take these back; we will refund you for your entire order. I will take the groceries out of your car, and you can leave. Tell all your friends how terrible this place is and never have to come back. Will, that make you happy?”
For the first time, I saw a look of concern pass over Chips face.
“No, I need those groceries!” Chip exclaimed. “And I will go ahead and take those chips. Even though they are not as good as the other ones and they do burn my mouth. We have to have something to eat while playing cards. I’m still going to tell my friends tonight how terrible this whole service is.”
I assured Chip I understood. I even took his name and number so when the generic Jalapeno kettle chips came in, I would hold some for him and call him.
Chip left, probably thinking he had pulled one over on me and got away with free stuff.
The real lesson learned
Chip wasn’t trying to teach me any lessons about being sorry, or taking advantage of people or The Way of the Chip.
He was just an angry man who, for whatever reasons focused all his anger, all his frustrations in his life on one little thing. Generic Jalapeno Kettle Chips.
In his mind, it was a grave injustice to not have his favorite chips. It was this intense focus I find so fascinating. How could one little thing in his life take on such a monumental meaning?
And if he could bring such a high level of passion into such a small part of his life, then we could all learn a lesson from Chip.
If only we have the passion to reach for it
You see, Heather and I are at the point we are working on something other than the typical 9 to 5 jobs.
Heather and I are aiming for a life of freedom and independence.
To reach these goals we are going to have to find something deep inside ourselves; We are going to have to dig deep and discover the desire to push beyond our boundaries. To drive ourselves towards a better life we know is possible if only we have the passion to reach for it.
You see, to me, Chip wasn’t just a cranky old man. Chip was a man who showed a burning passion for something that, in most peoples’ life is completely menial: Generic Jalapeno Kettle chips. I believe it would do us all good if we could take a page out of Chip’s book, learn The Way of the Chip, and start to take value in and show passion for the things in our lives most people don’t.
I know if we can start recognizing and fighting for the important things in life that mean so much to us and not care about other people’s opinions, we can start to feel better about ourselves, and at that point, nothing can stop us.