Customers feel right at home with ‘Grandpa George’

Stand in this checkout line and it sounds like everybody and his brother is the grandchild of the cashier.

Here’s what you hear: “Hi, Grandpa.” “Thanks, Grandpa.” “Later, Gramps.”

Wait, people older than the cashier are saying it.

What’s up with that?

He’s Grandpa George.

Says so on the name badge of Albertsons cashier George Caudill.

Maybe you’ve been in his line at the Albertsons store on Mukilteo Speedway. He’s got a wide smile and salt-and-pepper hair. He doesn’t just ring up your beer, bread and bananas, he talks and jokes with you.

The store’s badge-maker changed his name tag from “George C” to “Grandpa George” when Caudill’s granddaughter was born in June 2013.

It was a hit with customers. With company policy, well, not so much. “My supervisor at the time said you can’t wear other than your real name,” Caudill said.

No big deal. He went back to being George C.

“People were sending in comments and really liked the name,” he said. “My boss said, ‘You know, George, everybody loves it. You’re the oldest guy around, so put it back on.’?”

Caudill has worked for the grocery store chain for nearly 40 years. His father, George Sr., worked for the Albertson family in Idaho for 25 years.

“I started in 1976, Boise, Idaho. I was 16 on the freight crew, stocking shelves at night,” he said. “I worked at (Albertsons founder) Joe Albertson’s first store. He used to have his office in the store.”

Caudill transferred to Washington in 1982 to work at the Port Orchard store, then over the years was at others in varying capacities, including management.

Cashiering led to a second career outside the store. “One of my customers is a broker for RE/MAX, and we were just talking in line and she said, ‘You’d be great in real estate,’ and she helped me get into it,” he said.

He’s been selling homes since 2004 and added Grandpa George to his Pacific Properties real estate badge.

It’s become his brand as well as his bond with customers at the grocery store.

They’ll say, “I’m Grandpa Bob” or “Grandma Sue” and talk about their grandkids, he said.

“Kids tell me stories or tell me about school. I’ve been invited to birthday parties. One older gal about 90 told me, ‘It’s very endearing. I like it.’?”

So, there he is, grandpa to all, everywhere he goes. What does his grandchild call him?

Nothing yet, he said. “She makes noises when she wants me.”

Send What’s Up With That? suggestions to Andrea Brown at 425-339-3443; abrown@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @reporterbrown.

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