Nfld. & Labrador

A sweet, simple COVID-19 message from a girl to her favourite grocery store clerk: 'I miss Calvin'

Four-year-old Emmy Laine missed seeing Calvin Young at the grocery story checkout, so she and her parents wrote him a sign and posted it on social media, hoping he would see it and know she was thinking of him.

Emmy Laine wanted to let Calvin Young know she was thinking of him

Emmy Laine, 4, holds a sign she made for Calvin Young, who works at the Dominion grocery store in Conception Bay South. (Submitted by Patty Laine)

The pandemic lockdown has landed people back in their bubbles, with many once again daydreaming of days out in the world, and time spent with friends and family. And for one little girl, that means she's missing her friend, Calvin, her favourite clerk at her local grocery store.

Four-year-old Emmy Laine missed Calvin Young so much, in fact, she and her parents made a sign that they hoped would find its way to him.

It's message was simple: "I miss Calvin from Dominion."

Patty Laine, Emmy's mother, submitted the photo first to a Facebook live show by the Swinging Belles, St. John's-based children's performers who were doing a special "shout-out" show from their living room, inviting the audience to share signs for loved ones. Laine then posted the photo on Facebook group Conception Bay South Community Voice, in the hopes it would make its way to Young — which it did.

The post garnered a few dozen comments, including from Young's sister, who made sure he saw it.

I'm certainly not surprised that the whole area of C.B.S. has some serious love for Calvin.- Patty Laine- Patty Laine

When the two got to chat over the phone, Emmy's message was a simple shouted, "I love you, Calvin!"

"I love you too, sweetie, and you know what? I miss you a lot too. And I loved your poster," Young told Emmy, when the two were connected over the phone during an interview with CBC's St. John's Morning Show.

Laine said she and her daughter hadn't seen Young since Christmas time, and with the lockdown in place for the Avalon Peninsula, Emmy can't go to the grocery store with her mother.

Young said he's also been off work for a little while, and it was a nice surprise to see the poster from Emmy.

"I just love what you did, I'm so happy … and you made me feel so special, and you know what? You're a special little girl to me, too. I always loved to see you come into Dominion with your mom and dad," Young told Emmy.

LISTEN | Patty and Emmy Laine chat with Calvin Young, Emmy's much-missed favourite grocery store clerk:

'She's just amazing'

Young remembers when a chatty Emmy first came through his checkout line.

"That first day that she came through with her mom, just something about her, she said hi and she had this smile and was so friendly, and I said, 'Oh my, look who we have here! Hi! What is you name?'" Young recalled.

"From there she just started talking to me and she's just amazing. Emmy, you're so sweet."

A number of regular customers of the C.B.S. Dominion had some nice things to say about Young, pictured, in a Facebook post by Patty Laine. (Submitted)

Patty Laine said that chat went a long way to cement Young in her daughter's memory.

"Emmy's always been a very talkative, outgoing little girl, and she just I guess really took to Calvin, and Calvin really paid attention to what she has to say and will remember things from one visit to the next, and she just really soaks it up," Laine said, adding that Young even remembered her daughter's birthday from a passing comment.

"That stuff's so important to her."

During their phone chat, it was clear Emmy missed updating Young on what's been going on with her; she interjected with an excited, "Calvin, I made muffins!" and, "Calvin, I have a scooter now!"

It seems as though Young has something of a reputation with people who frequently shop at the Dominion store in Conception Bay South, too.

Laine said when she posted the photo of Emmy and her poster on the community Facebook page, people began sharing and commenting their own stories of Young.

"There was a lot of similar comments about people waiting in longer lineups just to get to talk to Calvin and people really looking forward to seeing him again, so yeah it really brought out all of Calvin's fans," Laine said.

"I'm certainly not surprised that the whole area of C.B.S. has some serious love for Calvin."

For his part, Young said it was a pleasant surprise to see so many people thinking fondly of him.

"It was very appreciated.… I'm very famous, really," he said with a chuckle.

'It's just like seeing a friend'

Local celebrity status aside, Young said he's always made a point to chat with kids who come in to shop for groceries with their parents. It lets them know they're important, too, while also making the errand a little less of a hassle.

"I know grocery shopping can be a bit of a stressful thing to be doing, especially when you've got to bring the children, so I like it when I can talk with the customer and then focus on the kids, because it sort of makes them feel a little bit that it's great, it's a bit exciting to shop with Mommy to do groceries," Young said.

I'll be waiting and looking forward to you dropping by again.- Calvin Young- Calvin Young

"So I do my best to notice the kids and speak with them when they come through with their parents, and … I know they brighten up."

Laine said it definitely makes shopping with a young child go smoother.

"It's just like seeing a friend," Laine said.

"It's like an event to her, and personally it makes grocery shopping a lot easier for me, as well."

In the meantime, Young and the Laine family are looking forward to a day when they can all see one another again.

"She certainly misses you, Calvin. You're very special to her," Laine told Young.

"When COVID is over maybe Mommy and Daddy will bring you out again shopping and we'll get to meet again, how's that?" Young told young Emmy.

"I'll be waiting and looking forward to you dropping by again. You always made my day."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from The St. John's Morning Show