A Grocery Store Memorial

The janitor at my local grocery store was named Allen Baker.

I didn’t know Allen when he was alive, but I came to know of him by this memorial that the Farm Boy team set up to commemorate him at the entrance of the store, right next to the stalks of asparagus and Gruyère cheese.

I stopped for a few moments to read the In Memoriam tribute written by President and General Manager Jean-Louis Bellemare. The tribute expressed sorrow at Mr. Baker’s sudden passing at the age of 60 and acknowledged that he had worked at “our Blue Heron store” since 2007.

Since the family confirmed that there would not be a regular funeral service, I considered this in-store memorial to be a particularly touching and creative tribute to Mr. Baker. Even amid the pandemic, the Farm Boy team found a way to “unmask” one of their employees so that shoppers could connect with the face and the name of a man who spent years in humble service to them.

Did others stop to notice? Certainly.

When I returned to the store the second time in the same evening to pick up an extra pomegranate, I overheard these two cashiers taking a moment to remember their former colleague. “That’s so sad,” one woman said to the other.

Good work to Farm Boy for creating the space for sadness and remembrance – even in front of a Cheese Shop.

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