Sick Customer Throws Up In Kroger, Employees Still Treat Her Like A Human Being

Reader Bugpaste is not feeling well. She’s been hit with a vicious stomach bug. While picking up some medicine and supplies at Kroger yesterday, the worst happened: she threw up in the dairy aisle, a situation that could have been a lot worse if employees and fellow customers had been rude. But they weren’t at all. They cleaned up after her, and were genuinely concerned for her well-being. She was so impressed with the kindness she encountered that she took some time out from her recovery to write to the general manager.

I wanted to share a story of some extraordinary customer service I experienced earlier today. The following is a letter I wrote to the general manager of the Kroger in question:

Dear Sir:

Earlier tonight I was picking up a few items at your store on [redacted] Street and experienced some truly exemplary customer service. I wanted to share my story and thank the employees who helped me. Unfortunately I did not get their names.

This morning I developed a bad stomach flu and after my doctor’s appointment I went to your store to get a prescription and some sick day supplies. While I was hunting down the Gatorade, I became acutely ill and vomited near the dairy section. Immediately three customers and an employee asked me if I was ok, and the employee went to get help. Within minutes two other employees showed up to clean up after me. I tried to help but your employees told me I didn’t have to, and were very kind about it.

A few minutes later, I was paying for my prescription when I suddenly felt the urge again. I left my wallet and purse on the counter and ran to the restroom. When I came back, everything was still there and the pharmacist told me her own stories about getting sick in public. She also gave me several extra plastic bags for the drive home, “just in case.”

Your employees’ humanity and kindness made a humiliating situation much easier to bear, and I can’t thank them enough.

With deepest gratitude,


Let’s toast these great employees with Gatorade and crackers. And feel better, Bugpaste!


Edit Your Comment

  1. Dr. Ned - This underwear is Sofa King Comfortable! says:

    I like my local kroger, and while I haven’t been very impressed by their produce in the past couple years, they still have very good prices and good selection.

    • Cat says:

      I have a Smith’s here, it’s pretty much the same.

      I wish they’d turn one of the 2 stores here into a Food 4 Less. (the 2 stores are only 4 blocks apart)

    • caradrake says:

      Before we moved out of MS, a couple of the Krogers got an awesome revamp, complete with a huge cheese counter (with free samples), a sushi place, a vastly larger organic/green/health food section… it was really awesome. They also had samples out throughout the store, in the bakery, meat/seafood dept…

      I miss it.

    • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

      Wish we had Krogers here in northern Vermont. All we got is Hannafords (ugh). The very best grocery shopping we ever did was when we lived in in New Jersey at a “World-Class Stop & Shop.” Those stores were awesome!

      Hope the OP feels better by now. It’s a baaaad ass illness!

    • Miss Dev (The Beer Sherpa) says:

      We have King Soopers here, and I have always found the employees to be friendlier than other supermarkets (I’m looking at you, local Safeway) and their produce to be MUCH better. Then again, I live in a yuppie area, so it may just be because most people won’t buy anything that doesn’t look like it fell of the tree/plant minutes prior (ignore the “grown in Mexico” sticker, everyone). Plus, we have 5 aisles of just organic/natural products, which eliminates the need to go to Whole Paycheck for the most part.

      • c_c says:

        Another King Soopers fan here … there’s a Safeway and Soopers right across the street from each other in my neighborhood, and I almost always end up at Soopers. Occasionally I’ll go to Safeway for certain meat items, but usually King Soopers is better and cheaper.

  2. GMFish says:

    she took some time out from her recovery to write to the general manager

    She didn’t wait until after she recovered?! I hope he read it with gloves on!

    • Anathema777 says:

      Well, if she wrote it in an email, chances are he’s pretty safe.

      • LoadStar says:

        Are you kidding?!?! Isn’t that how computer viruses are transmitted????

      • PSUSkier says:

        I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but viruses transmitted via computer now. Though you’re much less likely to contract anything if you put a SARS mask over you wireless antenna or run your ethernet cable through one.

      • GMFish says:

        Well, I didn’t read that very well, but I’ve personally never “wrote” an email before. I’ve typed an email. I’ve emailed people about a topic. But never actually “wrote” one. That’s my bad, I guess.

      • Laura Northrup says:

        I don’t know. t sounds like she might have had norovirus, and that’s probably transmissible over email.

  3. citking says:

    I hope you feel better OP. Stomach flu is the worst :(

    • Remarkable Melba Kramer says:

      That is one illness that I always said that I didn’t wish on my worst enemies.

    • ethervizion says:

      I hate to be pedantic, but there’s no such thing as stomach flu. It’s most likely some form of noro virus. The flu is a respiratory illness.

  4. pegr says:

    Lay off the Bug Paste and perhaps you wouldn’t get sick in public.

    (Kidding, of course. Hope you are feeling better! ;)

  5. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Haven’t seen many positive stories on Consumerist lately. Nice to see good consumer experiences still happen.

    I have warm fuzzies.

    • Cat says:

      Try boxers.

    • winstonthorne says:

      And she has the warm runnies.

    • homehome says:

      well to be honest, this is a negative website so most stories are going to be negative. For me 99.9% of the time the service I receive and every store is good to great. Like the IHOP in my old home town, it wasn’t unheardof to be waiting for your food for 90 minutes. That’s not including the time it takes for you to sit down, order and pay.

  6. Bryan Price says:

    It’s one of the reasons why I loved shopping at my local Kroger’s, even though the area was too big for me to know the employees, let alone the employees know too many people on site.

    Now, it’s Winn-Dixie and Publix, and I still don’t see a store that had the choices my Kroger’s had.

    • dakeypoo says:

      It’s Kroger. There’s no possessive form. It’s just Kroger, people. It’s also just JC Penney. It is, however, Schnucks.

  7. DariusC says:

    Omg, that stomach flu had me by the balls the other night… Equivelent to getting stabbed and robbed, couldn’t tell whether I was in more pain or more nauseated. Protip: MJ can be bad when you WANT to throw up the nastyness and feel better :/ Glad to see some compassion, having people angry at you when you feel bad makes things much worse especially since it’s not like you wanted to throw up in their dairy isle!

  8. tomok97 says:

    As a former grocery store employee, we’re typically sympathetic to people who vomit…as long as they’re sober.

  9. maxamus2 says:

    Have we become so bitter as a society that if someone actually doesn’t make fun of you or treat you bad that it becomes “news”? In reality, situations like this are the NORM, it would be very rare that employees would treat a sick woman in a poor way.

  10. joe h says:

    Besides being very contagious, stomach illnesses rarely require a trip to a doctor, unless you become dehydrated. Just stay home and drink water. The few times I’ve had it, I couldn’t leave the toilet for more than ten minutes, for at least 12 hours.

    • yurei avalon says:

      I got either a stomach bug from my GM or food poisoning the first week of December. I had to go to the doctor’s after about 5 days of being sick and not being able to get better to have tests done to try and determine if it was something more serious. The thing lasted for a week. D: That was a week of not being able to hold down any food or get any sleep due to it making my stomach roil nonstop 24-7 until the doctor gave me some meds to sleep at night. Was awful. I’m so glad to be salary and have a kind employer so that I could take 3-4 days off no problem. The doctor did complement me on my efforts to keep dehydrated.

    • bugpaste says:

      I have an underlying medical condition that can make minor bugs pretty dangerous if I’m not careful. Also I had to miss an exam, so I needed the note.

  11. ExtraCelestial says:

    Aw that’s sweet. My dad loves Kroger.

    Hope you feel better OP. Stomach flus are the worst!

  12. PercussionQueen7 says:

    First of all, feel better, Bugpaste! Puking in public is probably one of my worst fears.

    However… I can’t help but get on my soapbox. If you’re acutely ill, please, send someone out to the store for you. When you go out while you’re ill all you do is spread the virus. You’ve got to have a friend, relative, or co-worker who would be willing to stop by for a few essentials.

    My brother, having a traumatic brain injury and being bedbound, is immune-suppressed. A normal person could shake off a flu or cold, but it’s a weeklong-plus hospital stay or worse for him. If I brought norovirus home it could be catastrophic. He just got out of the hospital after being there for a month with pneumonia.

    • msbask says:

      I agree ~ ~ ~ while at the same time recognizing that it’s possible Bugpaste didn’t have anyone available to go to the store for her and probably wouldn’t have gone if she’d had the choice.

    • orion70 says:

      I’ve been there (chemo) and I agree that anyone getting sick in a store would have sent me running from said store. People coughing several aisles over set me on edge. Not fun.

      But I’ve also been the single sick person who had to run to the drugstore for meds in the middle of a horrible flu. Thankfully lots of drugstores do deliveries.

      Problem with stomach bugs though is that sometimes you don’t see stuff coming.

    • aloria says:

      Send who out? I live by myself and my friends live on an entirely different island. Sorry, but not everyone in this world is fortunate enough to have someone to take care of them when they are ill.

      • PercussionQueen7 says:

        You have no co-workers? No church friends? No helpful neighbors?

        I don’t mean to be rude but I would bet you’ve got SOMEONE who would run to the grocery store for you if you were actively puking. Not wanting to ask is different than truly not having anyone.

        • aloria says:

          I live and work in the NYC area. My friends are scattered across Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan. I *guess* if shit got bad I could talk someone into taking a 45 minute bus ride out to bring me orange juice and pills, but honestly, I’d rather suffer and get the shit myself.

          And no, people in NYC generally do not befriend their neighbors.

        • Saskiatas says:

          At the moment, my husband is away on business, we live out in the country with few close neighbors (the close ones are usually gone or elderly and have their own issues), my friends live 2 hours away and my parents are 1 1/2 hours away. No kids. I suppose I could stand out by the road with a sign asking for help, but other than that I am on my own if I need to pick up prescriptions, which I had to do this week. I made sure that I limited my contact with people and used lots of that anti-bacterial gel. I sympathize with your brother but sometimes there aren’t any other options than to take care of yourself.

      • Dallas_shopper says:

        This. I had to drive myself to the doctor with a 103F fever when I had pneumonia. And I had to go to the pharmacy my damn self to get my medication.

    • bugpaste says:

      I also have a condition that suppresses my immune system. Believe me, I have no desire to give this to anyone else, especially my immuno-compromised brothers and sisters. By the time I got to the store I thought the puking was over with. Unfortunately…

      • PercussionQueen7 says:

        And I do understand that once you’re screwed, you’re screwed. I am just hoping to put a bug (hehe!) in people’s heads that even though they are lucky enough to be able to shake off a minor illness, it may not be minor to others.

        FEEL BETTER!!!

    • varro says:

      Good idea, but what if you have to pick up a narcotic?

      Fortunately, the people at the Fred Meyer were good about getting me out of the pharmacy line quickly with my Vicodin after the wisdom teeth extraction from hell…

  13. Nyxalinth says:

    I went through a 25 year cycle (from ages 16-41) of getting a stomach virus every 4-5 years, like clockwork. The first time, I woke up feeling fine and went to the mall with my parents…and got sick right in the middle of the mall. That was the start of it. Thankfully, the mall employees were just as kind as the Kroger employees.

  14. Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

    Good thing this wasn’t a story about a sick baby or the child-hating snoots would have been going for their torches and pitchforks.

    • orion70 says:

      Good thing no one brought in a completely irrelevant issue…oh wait.

      • Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

        Yeah because it’s not like there was a Consumerist article last week about an airliner that was brought down by a poopy diaper, followed by the obligatory “children should be outlawed and not smelled” crowd… oh wait.

  15. TheBigWhiteWolf says:

    I make my own vomit at home…?

  16. CalicoGal says:

    There is really no such thing as “stomach flu”… There are intestinal parasites that can make us sick, but none of them are a flu virus. Influenza is only a respiratory illness. “Stomach flu” is a misnomer. We get sick to our stomachs from lots of little bugs, but never the flu.

    When you get the throw-ups, it’s almost always something you ate. Tracing it can be hard–some food borne illnesses don’t materialize for days after the bad food is eaten.

    Hope Bugpaste is up-and-at-em soon! Good job Kroger for treating her like a human being. I’m sure she was mortified; good on you for not making her feel worse.

    • PercussionQueen7 says:

      It could also be norovirus, which is running rampant at the moment in California…

      • pararescuejmper says:

        I had the norovirus 2 years ago on New Years. I have never been so sick. I threw up ever 15 minutes like clockwork. Worst part was that we were visting family 5 hours away from home.

        I feel for anyone who gets the norovirus. I still get sick when I think about the last thing I ate that night…Creme Brulee you shall never be eaten again

      • PlumeNoir - Thank you? No problem! says:

        Yeah…it’s running wild through Michigan, too. I just had it a couple weeks ago and it knocked me down for a week. In fact, the only time I was able to function at all, I went to Kroger for crackers and apple juice…

        Uh-oh. Sorry Bugpaste…

  17. yurei avalon says:

    Next up news, several Kroger employees called out sick the next day with the stomach bug as it tends to be highly contagious.

    But seriously, kudos to the employees for not grumbling about having to clean up a spill. When I worked at Wal Hell the janitors always bitched about having to do their job. I know people do nasty things in the bathrooms and aisles but c’mon, it’s your job. Expect it to happen and stop bitching about having to do it.

  18. Murph1908 says:

    Kroger IS mainly in the Midwest.

    Midwest people are generally nice.

    Even several sports commenters mentioned on their respective shows/columns how nice the people if Indy were.

    • Nidoking says:

      Hoosiers are some of the nicest people you’ll meet, as long as they’re not in a vehicle at the time. Oh, there are some courteous drivers, but I’ve seen some drivers do things that not even the weekend drivers in New Jersey would do.

      • Murph1908 says:

        At least Hoosiers know how to merge, and how to let people merge. I moved from Indiana to the East Coast and was baffled by the lack of merge skill.

        It’s supposed to be enter ramp, accellerate to speed of traffic, merge into open spot.

        In Maryland, it’s drive to the ramp, stop, and wait while the line of traffic in the right lane doesn’t move over to the completely open left lane to let you in.

  19. dwtomek says:

    I’m confused as to why the location was redacted here. Is the Consumerist concerned that they might get caught falsely accusing a store of having good customer service?

    Kroger manager “How dare you suggest that my employees treated a sick customer like a human being! I had three receipt checkers ‘showing her to the door’ before the vomit hit the linoleum!”

  20. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Aww. I hope you’re feeling better, bugpaste. Stomach flu sucks.

    We don’t have Kroger but Dillon’s and that’s where my pharmacy is. They are great. I don’t typically shop at the store because it’s too expensive, but I have a Dillon’s card and that allows me to do so now and then. I can supplement my generic foodstuffs with better brands on occasion.

  21. Sean H says:

    Cool article!! I remember when I was in eighth grade a student in my class threw up and everyone in the class jumped back in terror. The crazy thing was is that he was sitting next to me and threw up on me :-/ LOL I had to laugh it off and help him. I was looked at as the crazy one which was my plan! Get everyone’s attention off of him and onto me. It’s crazy how certain things stick out in our memory. This lady was probably lactose intolerant. lol glad people were there to help her.

  22. Benny says:

    Come to Memphis’s Krogers and throw up and see what happens.

  23. framitz says:

    Good customer.
    People like to know that they are appreciated.

  24. JoeTaxpayer says:

    It’s too bad these stories are the exception. Kudos to the kind folk at Kroger.

  25. akronharry says:

    Same store had a sale on store made yogurt that day! :)