A Tri-City cashier’s contribution to normalcy in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic by offering a smile and easy chitchat as he rings up and bags groceries is being recognized by the members of the community he serves.
But they're doing it remotely as shoppers and staff have to navigate physical distancing in the aisles and lineups, and everyone is tense about contacting surfaces.
Heather Nyberg, of Coquitlam, said she noticed the stress and anxiety of working behind a plexiglass shield and having to be mindful of every interaction seemed to be taking a toll on a favourite Westwood Plateau IGA cashier, whose till she always made a point of visiting with her purchases.
She said she wanted to cheer him up — but she didn’t even know his name.
Nyberg reached out to the Tri-City Mom Group on Facebook to see if any of its approximately 9,000 members had any ideas.
It turns out many of them also loved the cashier and they knew his name: Kyle.
From there hatched an idea to collect all the kind words being posted about the ponytailed, baby-faced longtime IGA employee to help brighten his day in these tough times.
Nybergsaid the response was overwhelming.
“It just turned out people knew who he was,” she told The Tri-City News, adding she ultimately had to turn off her Facebook notifications as she couldn’t get any work done because her phone was buzzing so frequently.
Several of the tributes were captured on video.
“I especially try to choose your lane,” one mom said in a message to Kyle.
“Although you think you’re not making a difference, you’re appreciated and you’re loved in the community,” said another.
One shopper even composed a little song, “Kyle is a good guy, we like him so much.”
Written posts were equally filled with praise.
“You can’t help but smile leaving the store,” said one.
“He makes my day when I go in there,” said another.
Many of the messages were compiled and edited into a 10-minute video by another member of the moms’ group, Cindy Dalglish, that was to be presented to Kyle.
Nyberg said more than $350 had also been donated by appreciative customers, many of whom are struggling with economic challenges brought on by job loss or cutbacks.
“That’s so heartwarming, they’re still willing to give,” Nyberg said, adding the brief interactions at the grocery store and the attention and gratitude they’ve received have been a welcome distraction from the daily onslaught of bad news and anxiety since the pandemic escalated into a public health crisis.
“Sharing this has been uplifting,” she said.