After I moved to Harker Heights in April, I was perusing the local H-E-B for an ice tray when an upper-middle-age male employee greeted me.
“What are looking for, sir?” he said.
I asked him if they had any trays in stock, which prompted him to diligently scour a few aisles and ask some employees, before apologetically telling me they didn’t carry the item.
“I’m sorry, sir, we don’t have it,” he said. “Have a fun day.”
His eyes beamed concern for my minor inconvenience. Customer service seemed to be more than a skill to him — it was his life’s work.
Who was this guy, this pleasant floor employee who turned a basic shopping trip into a kind reassurance that I chose the right place to live?
I learned Wednesday he is Belton native Mark Turnbo, 62, a 17-year full-time H-E-B employee who does food demos.
“My dad told me all my life, ‘Treat people like you want to be treated,’” Turnbo said. “I think it started there.”
Customers walked by as we chatted Wednesday at the front cart bay. About three of them smiled and exchanged pleasantries with Turnbo. He seemed to make lasting impressions on a lot of people.
“It’s easier to smile than to cry or be mad,” Turnbo said. “Everything in this life is made way too complicated. We need to go back to basics. You can learn so much if you just follow the basics.”
When he worked in the bakery, Turnbo said, he struggled because it was a “production job, not a customer-oriented job.” When managers recognized his service skills, they moved him to demos.
“Rather than a skill, let’s call it a gift,” Turnbo said. “I don’t claim it, God gave it to me.”
He maintains a close relationship with God and appreciates his company, he said, where he seems to feel at home among co-workers and customers.
“It would be a sad, sad world if we had everything in it and no one here to call a friend or a mate,” Turnbo said. “If we just had it all to ourselves and we were the only one here, wouldn’t it be a terrible place?”