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Meijer greeter finds local fame for kindness

November 29, 2019 | 3:20 am

Updated November 27, 2019 | 8:04 pm

Photo by AP Imagery

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“That’s the Meijer lady! That’s the Meijer lady!” This is what Meijer employee Debbie Lockridge encounters every time she is out in town.

“My daughter says, ‘Mom! We can’t go anywhere where somebody does know you,’” Lockridge said.

To know Meijer employee Debbie Lockridge is to love her and the 62-year-old greeter is known and loved by many in the Owensboro community.

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Lockridge moved to Owensboro from Las Vegas almost two years ago. Upon arrival, Lockridge found employment through Meijer, pushing carts and greeting customers in the parking lot. Her striking enthusiasm was immediately recognized by customers and co-workers alike.

After a year and a half of pushing carts and cleaning for the corporation, Lockridge’s consistently cheerful spirit encouraged management to approach her saying, “We need you to greet to raise our greet score.”

In June of 2019, Lockridge began greeting three days a week, promptly raising Meijer’s greet score and bringing joy to customers her bubbly spirit and infectious smile.

Despite having superior customer service skills, Lockridge admits that she had very little prior customer service experience.

Photo by AP Imagery

During high school Lockridge worked at a preschool taking care of children. She spent many years as a stay at home mom, returning to work in 1983 when she moved to Las Vegas and worked as a race and sports book cashier until 1993. She didn’t work again until she moved to Owensboro and took the cart pushing position at Meijer.

Lockridge has always enjoyed treating customers with the utmost kindness and respect, but she admits that she received little recognition for her customer service work in Las Vegas. It wasn’t until she moved to Owensboro that began receiving such high praise.

“I was overwhelmed when I got here and this happened,” she said. “I was like, what the heck has happened here?”

She shares that her fame really took off when Meijer customer Travis Estes created a public Facebook post, praising Lockridge for her commitment to enthusiasm and joy in late April. In his post, Estes shared, “I have never seen a person attack their job with as much enthusiasm as the greeter at Meijer. I always think she is going to jump on top of me and chase me down to hug me in the produce section as she is proclaiming “WELCOME TO MEIJERS I APPRECIATE YOU! But by golly she is enthusiastic, always smiling, seems to truly love her job, and she always makes me smile coming and going…”

Despite being well known in the community already, Debbie’s celebrity status skyrocketed after Estes’ post circulated around town. The following week she was recognized by WBKR as the “WBKR Hero of the Month” and she has continued to be recognized throughout the community and especially on social media.

In September, local Facebook account “Owensboro Memes” shared a status about Lockridge, reading, “The greeter lady at Meijer is the hero we needed but don’t deserve.” On this post, as well as Estes’, hundreds of comments reveal how deeply she is loved by the Owensboro community.

Lockridge’s kindness is matched by her humility, confessing, “It’s overwhelming to me… I’ve never been so recognized in all my life.”

When asked what inspires and motivates her to be so kind, she responds, “I just love life. I don’t know, I just love people! I just love being able to talk to them and make them happy. I figure life’s too short to be rude, mean or sad.“

Lockridge’s dedication to kindness seems to simply part of her character.

“I’ve always tried to be pleasant and kind to people,” she said. “There’s just too much ugliness in this world already as it is. I think it’s nice to be nice and it doesn’t cost me any money. That’s why I do it.”

When asked if being kind comes easy to her, Lockridge replied, “Yes! Oh yes! It’s very simple- very simple. I was always taught that if you want others to be nice to you, you have to treat them nice. It’s always been easy for me.”

Although Meijer has never corporately recognized her, Debbie knows that the local community absolutely adores her and that recognition means more to her any accolade or award.

November 29, 2019 | 3:20 am

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