Tuesday, May 22, 2007

My Brief Encounter With "The R."

On the same Saturday as the failed sale I mentioned last post, Chicago's own R. Kelly came to the store and did some shopping. You see, The R. himself lives in the area near where I work. He often goes to stores and restaurants in that area. This wasn't the first time that he's gone to our store. He's been there on at least two other occasions. However, instead of hearing about his visits from other people, I actually got to see him in person.

I found out he was in the store in the most unusual way possible. I was walking around my department looking for people to help when I saw a customer I had helped earlier. I asked him if he needed any more help and he told me that everything was good. His two sons tagged along behind him and the older one (who had to be no older than about eight or nine) stopped and told me “Did you know that R. Kelly is here?” in that excited way that little kids talk. I replied “Oh, he is, huh?” and sure enough, when I looked up, I saw R. Kelly in my department looking through some clothing.

I've encountered some semi-famous people before while at work. Former Chicago Bulls player Craig Hodges was in the store a few days ago. I rung up purchases once for singer Dave Hollister. I once rung up a guy who, very likely, was part of 1st and 15th Productions, Lupe Fiasco's crew. I helped WGCI's DJ Phantom find some fitness stuff and helped the brother of football player Antwaan Randle-El. However, R. Kelly is far and away the biggest celebrity I've ever been in the direct presence of.

While I was a little nervous, I didn't get flustered or scared when I saw him. I just did my job. I did my usual thing and asked how he was doing. He told me that he was doing good. I asked him if he needed help finding anything and he replied that he was finding everything okay. He also said that he was going to leave soon. I replied “Okay” and told him to have a good day. He said “Thanks” and that was it.

I didn't bother him again during the time he was in the store. My philosophy with celebrities is to treat them like I would anyone else. That's exactly what I did with R. Kelly.

I saw him a couple more times before he left the store. In the store, we have a summer display that has a gazebo with some reclining chairs, a cooler, and a grill under it. As I passed by the display to put something away, I noticed some women sitting in two of the chairs. I didn't really think anything of it since people always sit in those chairs. When I continued to walk by, I saw that R. Kelly was sitting in the head chair in the display. He and the two women who were with him stayed back there in those chairs for about another 20 minutes.

Then, while I was putting some stuff away, I heard my name called over the PA. I went to Customer Service where R. Kelly was getting helped by the cashier. She told me to get an item with a tag for him so she could scan it. I went back to my department and I obliged.

Finally, while I was putting something else away, I passed right by R. Kelly and a guy he came to the store with. They were talking and since I didn't want to even remotely appear nosy, I slipped right past them and kept going.

There you have it. I saw and encountered a pretty big celebrity. As I think about it, I wonder if there's any celebrity that I would just go crazy over if I saw them in person. Frankly, I'm a bit insecure about myself so I don't even want to meet most celebrities, even those I admire. If I wasn't at work and if it wasn't my job to help customers, I would not have so much as even spoken to R. Kelly. I would have watched him and his entourage pass by and do whatever and stayed out of the picture.

There's no way of knowing if I'll ever encounter another big celebrity. If it ever happens again, I can guarantee you that the blog post about it would be shorter than this one.

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