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Meet the Columnist

Columnist, Sheila Moss, is humor writer from  Tennessee. She writes  a weekly human interest column about daily life and the funny things that happen to everyone.

   She has written for  the Daily News of Kingsport,   Griffin Journal, Oakridge Now, Atlanta Woman Magazine, Aberdeen Examiner, Angleton Advocate,  and Smyrna AM, a supplement of the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal. She has been published by Voyageur Press, McGraw Hill, and the good folks at Guidepost Books.  Her articles have appeared in numerous anthologies and other publications, both in print and online.

    She is a former board member and past  Editor of  the, website of  the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, the oldest and largest professional organization for columnists. She is the Web Editor of Southern  and  a founder of the Southern Humorists writers' organization. She is writer, editor, and webmaster of

    To carry her weekly column in your newspaper, or to republish an article, please contact her. It's that easy. 

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A Tribute to Jason....

A Tribute to Jason

Hi Jason!

You donít know me. I was your customer yesterday down at the discount mart. It was a bad week at my house. The washing machine rolled over and died, then the clock radio committed suicide too, just to show sympathy. Funny thing, I woke up anyhow at the very same time even without the radio to screech at me, but I figured Iíd better not depend on waking up spontaneously forever. 

And, Jason, you remember too how the previous weekend was cold and windy? It was too chilly to put mulch around the bushes in my yard, so I decided to wait till this week to buy it. Well, anyhow, you know the kind of stuff people come to discount marts to buy better than I do. 

I figured Iíd just pop in yesterday, get a radio and a few items and then go on home as I had a lot of better things to do than hang around at the discount mart looking at the plants and talking to the greeter, especially with the washing machine on the blink.

Well, the problem was that everybody else in town must have been out of kitty litter too. There was a mob there Ė actually there is always a mob there on Saturday. Honestly, Jason, it is worse than I-24 in rush hour, people crawling all over each other like ants at a pancake breakfast. 

Now anybody that reads my column on a regular basis knows that standing in line at the discount mart must be one of my favorite things to do since I seem to end up there doing it every Saturday. In the suburbs, though, we are pretty much out of luck as far as shopping. We either shop at the discount mart or we donít shop at all. 

Why donít they get some extra help for Saturday, Jason? I just canít understand it. And, donít give me that story about "canít get any decent help these days." Iím tired of hearing it! They found you, didnít they?

Anyhow, I picked out a nice radio. That took me about five minutes. I liked the digital one with the big green numbers that I can see at night without my bifocals on. Problem is that "policy" said I had to pay for it in the electronic department. Everybody has seen that great big sign there: "Pay for electronics in this department." Because it was "electronic" I could not go to the front register to check out with it even though it was a $20 item. I had to wait in line in the electronic department with other irritated, red-faced, customers in the same boat. 

We converged on the cash register like a bunch of charging bulls with our groceries, basketballs, drug items, kitty litter, baby food and, yes, even a few honest-to-goodness electronic items. I waited 30 minutes and thought Iíd perish with fatigue before I got to the front of the line. 

Customers and shopping buggies were wound around the electronic department, down the aisle - out the back door and down the Interstate for all I know. You were there by yourself, Jason, with only one cash register open for the entire electronics department, handling it all by yourself, one young man against an angry mob.

I donít know how you can stand it. Without even a whip or a bullhorn, you stood there checking stuff out and smiling and never becoming impatient. When I got to the front at last, you didnít even bat an eye when I asked you to check me out 12 bags of mulch through the electronics register, along with my $20 radio. You just said, "What kind?" and got out the chart to look for prices. 

You checked out my marigolds from the garden center, my kitty litter, my cucumbers and the baby food for my grandson. Like all the rest of the whacko customers, I didnít want to go to the front and wait yet another 30 minutes to pay for my non-electronic items either.

You are a hero Jason. You work at a drudge job doing drudgework. You deal with irate customers that are irritated not with you, but because of frustration with the system. You are like the many ordinary workers who work all over the country at stores without enough clerks to take care of the customers - just like the discount mart. 

I donít even know your last name. But I do know that you are a good person. You deal with people and treat them with politeness and courtesy. You do not hide behind the scenes and avoid the raging masses of humanity, as the managers seemed to do. Somehow I just have a feeling that if you were the manager, you could think of a better way of doing things than the way they are done now.

I was impressed with you, Jason. I think you should get a promotion. I donít know how much you make there, but it could not possibly be reward enough for the job you do. I think you deserve a raise Ė a big one!

I know you would probably be very embarrassed if you knew I was writing this. You were just trying to do your job. Yes, you were doing your job. But, you were doing more than should ever be fairly expected of one employee, and you were doing it with a smile and a "thank you." That deserves to be recognized. 

And so, Jason, this is my tribute to you and to the others like you, those who labor daily unrecognized and unrewarded in the "vineyards" of discount marts all over the country, those who give and give and ask for no praise in return, but only want to do a good job and help other people in some small way. That is something we no longer have enough of in Tennessee or in the world.

I donít know you, Jason, and you donít know me. You were my sales clerk and I was your customer. Our lives passed briefly for a few fleeting moments, and you made mine a little bit easier. I just want to say thanks!

Copyright 2000 Sheila Moss

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