One of the things that I always struggle with when traveling is meeting other cheesemongers. This sounds funny, but it’s true. Cheesemakers are no problem. I call ahead, schedule an appointment, take no for an answer if it’s a bad time and we’re good. But mongers are harder to crack.
I’m sure people feel the same way about me too. I am only on a regular floor shift two days a week these days, spending the rest of my time in the cooler, upstairs doing invoices and reports, or around the store doing other co-opy things. People have sent me emails that they visited the store and didn’t see me to which I usually respond, “Did you ask the other cheese workers if I was in?” Usually the answer is no. I think there’s a mutual respect of not wanting to get in another monger’s way or take up too much of their time but I am almost always happy to meet other cheese folks.
One problem is that when I am traveling, I am not usually buying anything. I usually do not have access to refrigeration so if I am not buying a cheese plate for a friend I just want to say hi and talk cheese. Is a cheese social call how mongers want to spend their day? It’s unclear. How do you know if the person behind the counter, if there even is a counter, shares that passion?
With cheesemakers I can call ahead but mongers do not usually get to know each other if we are not in the same region. Often I will be wandering the aisles of a grocery store sneaking peeks at the cheese people, feeling anxious about saying hello. It is always awkward at first when I do reach out. I think I am just not doing it right.
So, mongers, how do you like to be approached? Do you like out-of-town cheeseheads saying hello? Personally, if someone says they sell cheese, I ply them with samples of local goodies they cannot get back home. Maybe that’s just me. 😉