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Monday, March 7, 2016

Wegmans, Not Just a Grocery Store


Published in our local newspaper, The Democrat & Chronicle, in celebration of Wegman's 100th Anniversary




Several years ago I wrote a letter to the editor about an impatient shopper at Wegmans. The person had not been impatient with me, but with my multiply disabled daughter. My daughter, Teale, has many hidden and not so hidden issues from a severe birth injury. Wegmans is one of her most favorite places to go and can often help her turn her mood around. Back when I wrote the letter to the editor, Teale was about 5 years old and her disabilities were less obvious. Teale is now 17 years old, but she still loves Wegmans. Almost every Saturday morning you can see her and her best friend, my husband, her Dad, Mark, at Pittsford Wegmans. They are a sight to see. Mark is one of the sweetest, most patient Dad's there is. He works a full time job durning the day and many nights he can be seen playing his sax or singing in local bands. But even if he was out the night before playing music into the wee hours, Teale still gets him for her Saturday morning trip to Wegmans. She will wake up extra early on Saturday, excited to get her day going with her Dad. I've often joked that the regulars at Wegmans on a Saturday morning must think he is a weekend Dad. Maybe they think he is divorced and out with his daughter for his weekly visit but in reality, Mark is an everyday Dad. He is very present in our lives, maybe especially when it comes to Teale. Wegmans has been a huge part of their bonding, it is their thing, a special time our daughter counts on every week. Sometimes you will see her with an American Girl doll in hand, kinda a strange sight, as she is about 5'6" tall. Often, Mark tells me, they see many of the same people, who, with knowing smiles, nod Mark & Teale's way. Wegmans has many routine based people, who, like Mark & Teale, come every week about the same time. Most weeks they start the shopping trip with a bagel together upstairs before doing the grocery shopping. They even go to the same cashier, Corie, who Teale is very fond of. The weeks Corie isn't working, Teale is disappointed and comes home telling me, "No Corie today." Whether she knows it or not, Corie is part of our "circle." She a person who understands our Teale and treats her with care and respect. Then there are the pharmacists and staff at the pharmacy. There is truly not enough good I can say about them. They are kind, compassionate and extremely caring. They may not know Teale's whole story, but they know she is on a lot of medicine and that we struggle at times. Teale has had many not so pretty moments at Wegmans. She has raged in the aisles, in the produce, at the customer service desk and in the parking lot. Teale has also laughed, touched peoples hearts and brought complete strangers to say kind things to us. We have been judged and some have thought she was just a bratty kid in a rage, but as we live this life with Teale, we are far more often surrounded by love and Wegmans has given us some of the best stories, good and bad. One I hold onto many years after it happened involved Teale in a horrible rage, still small enough that Mark could scoop her up, but not without a huge scene. He had her on his shoulders just trying to get out as fast as he could. I was there also, with our youngest daughter, Gwenn in tow. It was like the buzz of Wegmans had stopped and all eyes were on us. I stepped away with Gwenn, just hoping to get out "alive." As I stood in the produce area, near the exit, Gwenn by my side, an older woman walked up to me. I held my breathe...This woman had kind eyes, full of understanding and compassion. All she said was "Hold your head high Dear, you are doing a wonderful job." To this day I wish I could find her, her kind words still bring tears to my eyes. Wegmans may just be a grocery store to some, but for our family, it has been a place where some of life's biggest lessons have been learned & maybe a few have been taught.