Sorry “Vicky,” I won’t sign your petition!

    “Methinks” she doth protest too much.” – Shakespeare

I gasped after reading a recent post by “Vicky” in response to an “experience” she said she had at a local Dollar General. And because of that she took it upon herself to start a petition to have that store and similar ones in the county shut down. 

Here’s what she wrote:

The place was strewn with trash, shelves were half empty, and the employees were rude to me. The place was no different than places like that in the “hood” in Atlanta.”

Yep, “hood.” She went there with that gem folks.

But what I found troubling were the number of “likes” she received with others piling on with their stories, most of them negative, some clearly exaggerated. So for “Vicky,” Dollar General is today’s bogymen de jour. Heck, why let one bad experience go to waste?

Now the interesting thing about the “Vicky” types is that they are the ones who see a mouse (one experience) but tell others later that they’d seen a rat (an earthquake). Think “making a mountain out of a molehill” here. The havoc they wreak is to slam an enterprise without accountability. 

But what we don’t know are the attitude and behaviors “Vicky” walked into the store with. Did she treat the staff with condescension and disrespect? There’s a lot we don’t know here, do we?

Now let me share my experiences with Dollar General over the years. Of course, except for one or two petty inconveniences, those experiences were largely positive. 

First, two years ago I stepped out of my beat-up pickup truck into the blistering Georgia heat, lost my balance and fell onto the hot pavement. In less than two minutes, two Dollar General cashiers were at my side, helped me to my feet and into their store to cool off with a complimentary bottle of water.

And since then, the Dollar General a little more than a mile from my house was twice robbed at gunpoint in broad daylight. Thank goodness two of its workers, “Ray” and “Irene,” great people I got to know, were unharmed, still working there, pleasant attitudes and all.

Another thing, you may recall the heavy rains that swept through Georgia not that long ago that caused flooded roads and swollen rivers. Unfortunately, a 35-year-old mother of five drowned when her car was swept off the road into a river while she was on the way home from her job ……at a Doller General.  

“Inspired” now by “Vicky’s movement,” I decided to make a few random “see for myself” visits to the four Dollar General stores within a 15-mile radius of my house to see what’s changed. What I encountered at each store were the warm welcomes and smiles from the staff that I’d grown accustomed to. The places were clean, the shelves fully stocked.

At one store, “Maria” told me how well her grandson was doing in school despite several family members coming down with COVID. 

At another, “Suzy” teased me about my gray hair to which I returned the favor with a joke about her flaming red hair with matching tattoos on her neck.

And because I was unsure of where to find birthday cards at another store that had been renovated, I asked a gentleman on his knees stocking a bottom shelf for help. Rather than point me to the right aisle, as I expected, he got up and escorted me over to where cards were now located. 

At the fourth store, the same treatment – a warm smile and “come back soon” from cashier, “Tonya,” at the checkout.  At the conclusion of my tour, I decided to get back to “Vicky” with my findings and a few questions.

“Vicky,” what would you suggest happening to those employees if they lost their jobs should your petition succeeds?

Would you have launched a petition based on one bad experience against a high-end store, say Macy’s?

And tell us, were you impacted by the COVID-19 last year? Were you able to work safely from home, or are you an “essential worker” like “Irene,” “Ray” and the mother of five who braved the pandemic and elements, risking their lives and livelihoods on the way to a Dollar General you were so quick to disparage?  

Turning now to the signers of “Vicky’s” petition. Please keep in mind that there are people whose very livelihoods depend on the minimum wage jobs at those stores, let alone teenagers looking to earn a few bucks for school and to obtain valuable work experience. 

So “Vicky,” the next time you happen upon that Dollar General, heed this advice from a song by Dionne Warwick… walk on by!

“If you see me walking down the street and I start to cry each time we meet, walk on by, walk on by. Make believe that you don’t see the tears. Just let me grieve in private, ’cause each time I see you, I break down and cry!”

I’ll end with a warning to the Dollar Trees, Family Dollars and   Waffle Houses out there; get your house in order, put on your happy faces, replenish your toilet paper dispensers and sweep your floors because “Vanguard Vicky” and her entourage are coming after you.

© Terry Howard is an award-winning writer and storyteller, a contributing writer with the Chattanooga News Chronicle, The Douglas County Sentinel, The BlackMarket.com, co-founder of the “26 Tiny Paint Brushes” writers’ guild, and recipient of the Dr. Martin Luther King Leadership Award.

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