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March 9, 2011

Detroit Metro Delay From Hell

Detroit Metro McNamara Terminal

An uneventful flight found us in the Northwest Detroit terminal. We had missed our connections, damn it, so I was stuck with my shadow for a while longer. This was going to be the Detroit Metro Delay from hell.  He wanted to eat continuously.  I didn’t want to eat at all, never had an appetite when he was around for some reason.  We had three freaking hours in Detroit.  But as airport terminals go, this is a pretty nice one.  My shadow wanted a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  This food option, PB&J, was at the opposite end of the terminal so at least we could kill some time getting there.  If my shadow were not with me, I would be relaxing in the World Club lounge.  I could have taken him in with me, but why?

Over peanut butter and jelly I checked my voicemail.  There was an opportunity to participate in a promotion with The Kroger Company.  Kroger was the only retailer to place the pizza so far, but as far as retailers go, this was a great opportunity to prove our brand could survive and perhaps thrive at retail.  We just had to put some muscle behind the brand and get consumer trial.  Our best bet at this point was to offer an aggressive promotion to get the lowest on shelf price possible to get consumers to buy, try and repeat purchase our product.  If we could show good numbers with Kroger, the other retailers would see this success and also want to place the pizza in their stores.  This break with Kroger was huge.  We needed to suck Kroger’s shoelaces. They were handing us a golden opportunity to make this brand work.  You don’t get too many breaks like this one. I had the audacity to be excited.

“Yo, shadow” I said.  “We have an excellent  opportunity to gain consumer trial.  The Kroger team is willing to give us a crazy low retail price on shelf for twelve weeks if we will give them an additional allowance for that time frame.

Wiping the jelly from his mouth he responded “I don’t like Kroger.”

I sat and looked at him. I scratched my chin.  I thought what the hell? Never mind that I had a lifelong love fest with this retailer: my grandmother worked and retired from Kroger,  I paid my way through college working as a  bagger at Kroger, and I knew, liked and respected every single member of the Kroger  frozen category team.  And I liked our broker.  They had stood by me through good and bad times.  Here we were with this huge opportunity and my shadow says he doesn’t like Kroger.  So I make a brilliant comeback with “I don’t understand.”

Kroger Good Folks Helping Logo

“I don’t like Kroger.  It means I am not fond of them.” he continues to chew.

My blood pressure is skyrocketing as I am thinking don’t make me cut you with this plastic knife you ignorant s.o.b., but I say, “I understand the English, I don’t understand the meaning.  How can you not like this retailer and what does that have to do with the opportunity at hand?  We actually owe a debt of gratitude to this team.  They are taking a chance on a new product.  It is up to us to make it work, not them.”

“I don’t care.  I won’t allow it.  Kroger needs to do something for us.”

“They have.  They placed our new frozen pizza brand on their shelves. (No thanks to you and your chain of fools. I had been sweeping up after he and Jekyll/Hyde’s corporate call for months.) That is some of the most valuable real estate in the store. Many a company would give their eye tooth to be in our position at this moment.”

My cell phone rings.  The Jekyll-Hyde president of the manufacturing facility is calling to say go ahead with the promotion.  I tell him there is a problem because my shadow doesn’t like Kroger.  There is a moment of silence. “It means he is not fond of Kroger, in case you are wondering.” I just couldn’t stop myself.

“Jo, just go ahead and agree to the promotion.  I will handle the shadow.” The president Dr. Jekyll claims.

“Okey dokey.”  I call our broker, who in turn calls the Kroger team and the promotion is set. Even better news, my flight is getting ready to board.  I wished my shadow a safe flight, and I meant it, I am sure somebody somewhere likes him. Then I bolted.

A short flight to Columbus, I head toward the parking garage, when I notice I have ten new voice messages.  I mean what the hell; this flight was only 25 minutes long.  I listen and walk, but then I have to stop because now I am being told by the president Mr. Hyde that we cannot do the Kroger promotion.  He asks me to call him back.  Eight of the other calls are him demanding an answer.  He knew I was on a flight.   The ninth call was my shadow, telling me he had thought about it and he still doesn’t like Kroger.  I call the president first; he tells me that we can’t do the promotion.  I asked why he changed his mind.  He is screaming at me, I could envision protruding neck veins,  that he never told me to do the promotion and how could I have agreed to such a thing. I took a pause, looked around the terminal to see if I was on Candid Camera.  Didn’t seem to be.  This guy too was a Wackadoodle!

So, I call the broker and tell her that these guys now don’t want to do the deal.  She tells me she has already spoken with Kroger and it is in the works.  I don’t know what to say.  She tells me that she will speak to Kroger and try to cancel.  I lose face with my long time broker and friend and the Kroger team because of these nut jobs.

Asp snake

Surely death by asp would be preferable.  A quick tinge of pain and it is over versus being tortured every single day for the foreseeable future.



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