Freddy, the greeter at Fry’s supermarket on Grant and First, is more than happy with his lot in life. Patrolling the entrance area, he is doing what comes naturally to him, interacting with people. Of Mexican descent, he is a short, dark, balding 48-year old, dapperly dressed in an open-neck cream shirt, black pants and matching black waistcoat, replete with a red Fry’s logo and I.D badge.
I watch him in action. ‘Hello Sir, Hello Madam. Nice to see the two of you and each one of you. Would you like to see our sales paper?….. Hi folks. Welcome to Fry’s. My name’s Freddy and I offer you service with serenity and a smile. All of you and each one of you are most welcome. Let me get you a shopping cart.’ He works the steady stream of customers effortlessly. There are cuddles with old ladies, pats on backs and firm handshakes a plenty, although it has to be said that the odd shopper looks a tad bemused. Factor in his bushy moustache and rat-a-tat delivery and Freddy strikes me as being every inch the Latino Groucho Marx.
He tells me why he is so comfortable at Fry’s. ‘I’ve always been a people person. I am a happy guy, I don’t do moodiness. It all came together here. This is who I am. I’m always like this. I have a fan club outside of here. Walmart was not the right place, they did not appreciate me. Even here at first, my co-workers thought I was fake and a phoney. But, in time, they realized I wasn’t.’
I ask Freddy if he is living the American dream. ‘I’m accomplishing my goals in my own time. I don’t try to keep up with the Jones’s. I wish luck to Mr Jones but I do my own thing.’ What about marriage? ‘I’m not the marrying kind. I like my independence. I don’t answer to anyone. The only person I answered to was my Mum when she was alive. She had Parkinsons and I cared for her for nine years. The day she died was the worst of my life. My whole life, God came first and Mum second. I’m a believer but I’m not a religious person. I don’t go to church.’