Whether it’s dodging a speeding linebacker, finding substitutions for brownie mix or fighting through a hurricane, Space Coast shopper Cal D. is used to thinking on his feet. After starting out as a professional NFL player and following a career path with many twists and turns, Cal has found a new calling as a Shipt shopper. Cal shares how his experiences on the field and in the hospitality industry shape the way he finds everyday joy in shopping for Shipt. Read Cal’s #MyShiptStory to learn more about his journey, his love for the Space Coast community and how he came to the rescue during Hurricane Irma.
Beyond the Endzone
Like any other young, passionate football player, I wanted to go to a college with a great football program. I chose the University of Florida, and after my senior season, was drafted in the 5th round by the New York Jets! I spent four seasons there before I moved closer to home to the Miami Dolphins. But after a significant back injury, I had to accept my football career had run its course. It was time for me to think about what I wanted for the rest of my life. That was 1997, so it took me a while to figure out what the heck I wanted to do!
I’ve worked as a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch, as a school teacher in a variety of subjects (history, PE, economics and football, of course), for a furniture company running their warehouse and distribution operations – the list goes on. Most recently, I worked in the hospitality industry at Town Park. Throughout all my different jobs, it’s felt like I’ve been trying to figure out what I wanted to do when I finally grew up.
While I loved my job in hospitality, the commute was draining and I started shopping part-time with Shipt in December of 2016. One day, I decided that I was going to see what I could do if I poured myself into it for one week. I put myself on the schedule for 40 hours, just like I’d do at any other job. I was blown away by what my earning potential could be! With that knowledge, I decided to take a leap of faith and become a full-time Shipt shopper. I haven’t looked back.
Different Games, Same Plays
From my wide range of job opportunities, there are few key lessons that I’ve tried to apply to all my work – Shipt included – on a daily basis. Throughout all my different careers, I’ve always been drawn to a job where you don’t do the same thing every day, it keeps it fresh. That’s what I liked about the hospitality industry. You may do the same tasks, but the unique people you deal with every day change each experience — people with different reasons for staying at your hotel and with different life stories. Part of the thrill was coming up with ways to make their experience a more memorable one.
The same translates to Shipt. While I’m grocery shopping every day, picking out the same items, the clientele changes. They’re different people with different needs and unique reasons they use the service. So part of my job is coming up with new ways to impact their day for the better.
Football taught me the importance of hard work and to always push myself to keep improving. I approach Shipt the same way, continuously finding new ways I can go above and beyond to provide that “wow” factor for the customers. If I have a repeat customer who I know has kids, I’ll make an effort to grab them something like a balloon or free cookies from Publix. Some customers will tell me they appreciate me shopping for them today because they’re home sick with the flu, so I’ll get them a get well card. I think it’s the little things that can make the biggest difference.
Learning from a New Team
I’m approaching 1,000 shops, but it doesn’t seem like that long ago that I was new. Since the beginning, I’ve leaned on the Shopper community for tips, stories and experiences. And now, it’s great getting to share what I’ve learned with others. I was telling a brand new shopper that you’ll get to the point where you know where every item is in every aisle, even how far down on what row it is. You barely have to look anymore, you’ll just know.
The Shipt “Shopper Lounge” Facebook group in particular has been a great place for building community and learning from each other. Especially between our Shipt shoppers on the Space Coast, it’s a very active group. There are always conversations about best practices, messages back and forth sharing advice, and the best part is running into those familiar faces in the store!
Through Hard Days or High Water
Beyond the Shopper community, getting to know members on a personal level is part of what makes being a Shipt shopper so rewarding. One of my favorite repeat members is Mary, an 89-year-old widow. Her loving son and daughter-in-law do the ordering through Shipt for her. I can tell when I get to her house that she’s really looking forward to me being there. I love spending time with her while I’m unpacking the groceries and hearing stories about her life. I just really enjoy that I have the opportunity to meet someone like that and have a moment to brighten their day.
For some members, we can be their only interaction all day. I had another member who broke down in tears and said that without Shipt, she’d have to move into a nursing home because she can’t drive anymore. Because of Shipt, she can stay in her house and take care of herself. Moments like that are why I shop.
Part of going above and beyond for me is doing what I can to help members in need. During Hurricane Irma, our community was really tested. I went to multiple stores per order as my way to help people get their supplies, especially bottled water. I’m glad I did that instead of just texting to say they’re out of an item. It’s important to give people that peace of mind heading into something as difficult as a hurricane. It was those relationships, the Shipt community I’ve grown to love, that drove me to help our members during the storm.