To the regular shoppers of Met Food Market on Eliot Avenue in Middle Village, Noelle Coloprisco is an always smiling, good-natured individual who seems to treat each customer like family. Customers seem to gravitate to her checkout line even if another cashier is available just to get a small dose of her special kind of kindness, concern and humor. Time and time again I have noticed that after a few minutes of conversation with Noelle, customers seem to leave the store a little happier than they were before.
Noelle Coloprisco is 20 years -old and has lived in Middle Village her entire life. She attended Our Lady of Hope School and Grover Cleveland High School, and is currently attending Queens College where she hopes to achieve a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. She chose Sociology as her major because she enjoys working with people, which she attributes to her employment as a cashier at Met Food. Her long-term goals, she stated, are to make my family proud, be successful, make lots of money, and enjoy what I do for a living.
This interview was conducted at Andrew's Pizzeria across the street from Met Food in Middle Village shortly after Noelle finished her shift. I would like to thank the owner, Andrew, for turning down the music so we could conduct this interview.
How long have you been working at Met Food Market?
It will be 5 years in June.
How many days a week do you work?
Three days a week -Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Would you recommend this job as a part time job for anyone going to school?
Yes, definitely. Met Food is very flexible with the hours. The managers are very good when you're in school; they help you out so much because they make sure you have time for schoolwork. They know I'm a student and if I need time to study they will be very flexible so I get time to do my schoolwork and to maintain a good GPA, and also make a little amount of money. It's a very good job to have.
Do you think students should work as well as go to school?
Yes. This job has been such a good experience; I learned so much about how to deal with people. I feel I've become more responsible, even though I've always been responsible but it makes you more responsible because you have to start work at a certain time, follow the rules and you have to be good to everybody. I know it's just a supermarket, but it goes beyond that, you really gain experience from just working there, I know I have.
Why do you think you are such a good cashier? I've seen customers go out of their way to go on your checkout line even if they have to wait and other cashiers are available?
They always do that. I can't believe it. I notice that so much now. It happened to me today. In my opinion, from what they tell me, from the customer's perspective, they wait on my line because it's nice to go in and talk to somebody. They just wait to talk to me and they get a good feeling from me talking to them.
What do you think you're doing that other cashiers are not?
I actually talk to the customers. Everybody else does but I really have long conversations and talk about lots of things and they know I care about them. I know many of the customers since it's a neighborhood store so I have long conversations with them, and I'm always smiling. I'm a people person.
You seem like such a good-natured person. You must have great parents. Do you attribute being good-natured to them?
Yes. They just brought me up the right way. They were never mean. I watched them, the way they are, and my parents are my role models.
What is the number one lesson they taught you?
Just be respectful to people. Treat people the way you want to be treated, even if somebody is being mean, it doesn't go anywhere, and it doesn't solve anything by being mean back, just let it go and move on.
What do you like best about your job?
I love the customers and I love the managers in the store; they're so good to us. They always talk to us, asking how we are; they understand if we get sick they are very understanding. The managers are also kind and courteous to the customers and that encourages me to want to reciprocate with kindness and be helpful.
Is there anything you don't like about being a cashier?
Yes, waking-up early in the morning!
Is it difficult to stand behind the cash register for long periods of time?
Yes, it's difficult to stand. Usually I stand for eight hours. When I first started working here my back would hurt, but that's why they give you breaks. I take a break in the middle of the day and I sit and eat and I just rest and after that I'm fine. But it is hard if you just stand-up for eight hours. It kills you.
What is the strangest thing that you've seen while working?
Somebody had a heart attack in aisle 3. Actually, somebody died here. He came in very drunk from the night before, his face turned purple and he died. Another time a lady came in and passed-out in front of me!
What happened to the heart attack victim? Did he die?
Yes, the whole store reacted. The customers and girls rushed toward the customer, and somebody shouted, 'call 911.' It was really crazy.
What is the worst experience you have had with a customer?
I haven't had any bad experiences with any of our customers. Nothing really bad has ever happened.
How do you handle a customer complaint?
I was taught if a customer complains not to talk back. It doesn't make sense to get all crazy. If somebody complains that I didn't double bag a product, or something like that, I then double bag the product the way I was taught, and then let it go.
What famous person(s) would you like to meet?
Kim Kardashian. (Laughs) I love her! I just think she's so pretty. I would tell her 'you're so pretty!'
But I think I would want to meet Pauly D from Jersey Shore. I'd like to meet him because he's very funny and he entertains me all the time just watching him on the show and I can tell he's a good guy. I would like to hang out with him and fist pump with him.
I would also like to meet Oprah. She's like a modern Mother Theresa. I don't really watch her show that much but I know she's been around forever always helping people, donating money; she's an amazing woman. I would say Mother Teresa but she's not alive. So, I would definitely want to meet Oprah.
If you had the ability to change one thing in the world what would that be?
Bullying. I wish that people would have more respect for each other so that there wouldn't be kids in school being bullied. I was bullied very badly in school.
What do you think the secret to your success is?
My personality. That's exactly what it is. I'll literally go out of my way to talk to people, to be nice to them, because that's just the way I am. I give everyone a friendly smile, a friendly word, talk to them; it makes me feel good to talk, that's just the way I am. I'm not like some people who pretend to be nice.
I notice you always ask customers how their families are, why?
That's because I know most of the people. I only ask certain people about their families. I just ask because a family... my family is very important to me, I love them all, I'm very close to them, so to ask about somebody's family means a lot to them. I always want to make sure everything is okay with them, and sometimes people will say, 'Oh, my mother's not doing well,' and I'll respond, 'Oh, I hope everything gets better,' and it make them feel good to be comforted when I say things like that. It's really not a big deal, but it makes me feel good also.