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Personal shopper finds joy in job

BY KIRSTEN ADAMS

Intern

Wearing a faded gold nametag that reads “Good Will Ambassador,” Janet Becker sits at a table in the break room of Jonathan’s grocery store and surveys a register of produce, dairy, meats and other grocery items.

Jonathan’s sole personal shopper for the last 20 years, Becker has made a name for herself with co-workers and customers alike.

“She has gone beyond her job description,” manager Troy Quick said.

“She pretty much has adopted the people she shops for.”

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Robert Baker, who has known Becker since they began working together 20 years ago, said Becker also picks up prescriptions, cares for customers’ pets or goes on walks with customers.

She flips through the afternoon’s grocery lists and talks about how her love for her clients brought her back to work three weeks ago after a nine-month bout with breast cancer and chemotherapy.

‘My babies’

“I fall in love with them,” Becker said. “They’re my babies.”

Becker collects groceries for 50 to 100 mostly elderly customers a week. She will turn 71 in July, but still shows no signs of quitting her mission of good will.

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Not all of her babies are elderly, though. One is a mother of 9-year-old twins. As usual, Becker has lived up to her reputation and gone the extra mile.

“A week from Monday, I am going to take a little dog I care for to the twins’ pet-sharing day at school,” Becker said.

“You see, they don’t have a dog of their own.”

The greatest draw for Becker is the personal aspect of her job, and she places great value on the relationships she forms.

‘Filled with joy’

“What stands out for me are their lives,” she said. “They tell me things that fill me with joy, and that brings us closer together.”

One woman was 94 when Becker began shopping for her and passed away at 101. Becker was close friends with her for those last years of her life and still recalls her quick sense of humor.

“You talk about joy, she was a great joy,” Becker said.

“Whenever I’d go out, she’d say, ‘Now Janet, if you meet a man, ask him if he has an older brother for me.’ ”

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Her dedication to her job is infectious, and not even the battle with breast cancer could overcome it. She still has all the enthusiasm of a high schooler working her first job at the local burger joint.

“I didn’t think I’d be off for as long as I was, but it all worked out, and thank goodness I was able to come back,” Becker said as she punched back in on the clock. “I’ll be here till I drop.”