I’ve mentioned before that I make it my business to know the people I do business with. It makes life so much more interesting. I have shopped for the last 15 years at the same grocery store. Years ago, before I even started shopping there, it apparently went through a period of mismanagement and became known as Dirty Kroger, and the name has never left them. Years of remodels and management changes and state of the art additions later, it remains known to all of Louisville as Dirty Kroger. That said, DK (as I will call it) has got to have the most tenured staff of any grocery in town or maybe the world. Their employees start young and retire from there, their blue vests heavy with service year pins.
For as long as I have shopped there, they have had a “bag boy” named Bill. And when you picture a bag boy, I’m thinking you are not picturing Bill. He was short, had a huge scruffy beard and a head full of wiry gray hair that he combed back into a pompadour. He was friendly enough, but not a big chatter and fairly conservative with his smiles as well. But the man could bag some groceries. He knew how to pack a bag old school, by the books. Never had to worry about your pears getting bruised or your bleach coming open on the ride home if Bill was your bagger. He would tell you, “Don’t forget your pop is on that shelf under your cart” and it sounded so threatening that you didn’t dare forget. He was serious about his bagging.
Several years ago I learned a little about Bill’s life off the clock. A friend was looking for someone to do a sewing job for her and was given the name of someone and when she showed up to take the fabric- it was Bill! Once inside, she learned that Bill’s hobby when he wasn’t packing bags was to make doll clothes and his apartment was filled with elaborately dressed dolls. He made prom dresses too. I once saw one of the other baggers there, a teenage girl, show up in the middle of the afternoon in a formal with a hoop skirt and sashay down the bread aisle headed for the meat department to show Bill how she looked in the dress he had made for her to wear for the prom.
Bill got sick at work Tuesday and someone drove him home. He went to bed and died that night in his sleep. I was surprised to hear that he was 73 years old, standing as he did all day every day. The store seemed just a little less colorful tonight when I was there. Bill took his duties at Dirty Kroger very seriously and he will be missed.