Opinion | The Kind Workers at King Soopers Who Helped a Confused College Kid

To the Editor:

In the fall of 2016 I had just moved into my first apartment and was about to start my sophomore year at the University of Colorado Boulder. Eager to finally cook food of my own, I decided to pick up groceries at the King Soopers on Table Mesa Drive.

Intimidated by picking up my own groceries for the first time, in an unfamiliar place, I spent most of my first solo supermarket store trip asking the store attendants where various items were. Right away I was struck by how welcoming and friendly everyone working there was.

Teri Leiker, killed in Monday’s massacre, was the employee who packed groceries into my large duffle bag. “Find everything all right?” she asked with a grin. “You could pack this thing three times over,” she added, when zipping up my bag.

My interaction with Teri was representative of the warm vibe and casual relationship I developed with many of the store employees. Rikki Olds, also murdered in the shooting, came to the rescue several times when my self-checkout machine froze, and assured me it was fine when I realized I forgot things on my shopping list halfway through scanning items.

Shootings have become an all-too-common occurrence in America. In Colorado, there have been several mass shootings since the Columbine massacre in 1999, serving as a stark reminder that at any moment Boulder could be the next target of domestic terrorism. As much as a mass shooting remained a lingering possibility, never did anyone expect something of Monday’s magnitude to occur in a peaceful, quirky, happy-go-lucky college town that’s proudly advertised itself as one of the best places to live in the country.

In the midst of mourning, I was hit with a sense of guilt knowing I had never fully expressed my gratitude for Teri or Rikki’s hard work and compassion. Never did I take a second to stop and think about the role they and their co-workers played in making me comfortable in a new place and transitioning to adulthood.

Going forward, we owe it to ourselves to have an enhanced appreciation of life and treat one another more kindly. In honor of the 10 people caught in the middle of another senseless shooting, let’s all strive to be more appreciative.

Jack Stern

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