Sunday, December 28, 2008

R.I.P. Don Scott

I don't know what made me go over to the Fort Wayne Newspaper site last night or even, what made me browse through the obituaries. Seems like an odd thing to do, doesn't it?

And then I saw it - the obituary for Donald G. Scott.

Don Scott.

Founder of Scott's Foods.

Entrepreneur and employer of hundreds of thousands of Fort Wayne citizens.

And a man who knew the right way to pack a damn bag of groceries.

I kid you not.

In 1985, I applied for the position of cashier at Scott's. There was a massive 'job fair' like event and I went in and filled out the paperwork and talked with a couple of HR-types.

Don Scott was there. He shook my hand and asked me why I wanted to work for him. I must say, when you're 18 and applying for your very first 'real' job, stuff like this can be intimidating. But you see - I had absolutely no idea who he was or how important he was. I was just 18. Fresh. Naive. Big-eyed wonderment. And all about complete honesty.

I looked up at him and said, "Sir, I'm not sure why I want to work for you specifically. I'm looking for my first job, one that can help me pay my way through college. I saw the advertisement in the paper and thought I'd come down here and apply.

He looked at me, sort of gruff like and said, "I like honesty. You work hard, you'll get far in life young lady."

I smiled and didn't think much of it. After all, it was the same type of advice that my grandpa used to give to me.

When I received a phone call that they wanted to hire me and I would be starting with the next training class (out at the Decatur Road Scott's training facility), I was elated! I was still in high school and didn't yet have my driver's license so there were some logistics to making this work. But gosh - I remember that time like it was yesterday.

A woman named Marty was our "trainer". We were up on the second floor of the store in a conference room at the start of our training. She took us through the history of Scott's and the philosophy of the company. When I saw Don Scott's picture, I just about died of embarrassment. Sheesh! I should have given him a more eloquent answer than what came out of my mouth.

But oh well - I was here. I did get hired.

Part of the training was not only 'book learning' but also hands on with the register. That was the fun part! Scanners were fairly new (I think that they were "NCR" machines) and so we were learnin' in a high tech fashion.

There was one particular day though, that everything was non-high tech.

That was the day that Don Scott made an appearance. He was there to teach us how to bag groceries properly.


This man was passionate about groceries being packed in a way that maximized space, evenly distributed the weight of the goods, and most importantly - ensured that the customer left with their high quality items in tact.

It was one of my most favorite training sessions - ever - from any company I have been employed at.

Even today, when I go to the grocery store, I still pack like Don Scott taught me. I separate out the frozen from the dry goods. I layer the bottom with canned goods and the top with boxes. I separate out the eggs and bread. They can go on the very top of each bag OR they can have their own individual bag.

When I happen to go through a non-self serve line, I often get remarks from the cashiers or bag boys/girls about the meticulous way in which I pack up my groceries. I just tell them that I used to work in a grocery store and this was how I was taught. Seems second nature to me.

Don Scott. I'll never forget your pragmatic approach to the 'right' things nor the opportunities that you gave me and hundreds of thousands of other kids in Fort Wayne. Yours is a life to emulate. Rest in peace sir.


Sheila said...

I too worked for Scotts for a short while. Don Scott was very hands on. I met him while I worked in the office on Clinton. We had a cake and ice cream with him for his birthday. I liked him. I didn't paticulary care for working in the office of Scotts though. Nice memory of him though.

ida said...

sounded like a cool dude. i would have liked him too. your post brought back good memories of how my mother would teach me how to load the checkout belt with our grocerys. she was trying to make the bag boy/girls job easier. which i am passing on to my daughter this dying art of bagging grocerys.