Most would agree that working in customer service is a difficult job. Having fixed his share of complaints at Safeway for the past 33 years, Terry Dodson knows his experience has helped him embrace the fact that he knows how to make his customers happy.
Originally from an area just outside of Chicago, Terry decided to come to Colorado with a friend who was making a trip out west. Like many, he immediately fell in love with the lifestyle and scenery and has never looked back.
“I got a job working at the Safeway in Castle Rock,” noted Dodson. Back then, the Safeway store was in a different location. “The old Castle Rock Safeway used to be where the library is and Walmart was here.”
Everything was going great with his wife Lou on their ranch near Sedalia until Dodson started experiencing some back and leg pain. “In 2002, doctors told me I would need a kidney transplant.” Dodson continued. “Both of my kidneys went out because of my high blood pressure and taking too much Ibuprofin,” he said.
Not realizing the ingested amount of the over-the-counter medication might lead to kidney failure, the diagnosis came as a surprise. While waiting for a doner, Dodson underwent hemodialysis treatment three days a week for four hours a day. “I wouldn’t wish dialysis treatment on anyone,” said Dodson.
A year passed, and with no matching donors in sight, his wife offered to see if one of her kidneys could work. After testing, Lou’s kidney proved to have similar antibodies and had a good chance of not being rejected. “My wife was a three out of six match.”
After recovering from the surgery, he went back to work at Safeway. But as a result of the life-saving hemodialysis treatment, his forearm had changed in appearance. It now had a noticeable bulge under his skin from the AV fistula; the surgical connection of a vein and artery to allow for the large needle access during his treatment.
“I could have it taken out, but if something goes wrong, then I have to go in for another operation to get it done again,” shrugged Dodson. “They say it will grow over time but it doesn’t give me pain.”
And of the stares from customers that don’t know his story, he welcomes their questions. “I don’t worry about people looking at it,” he said. “It’s part of me now.” It’s only out of habit that he keeps it covered. A puncture to the enlarged vein would threaten his life.
“I don’t really think much about it anymore,” commented Dodson. “I just watch it.” Any inquisition likewise compels him to advise young people about consuming too many energy drinks and how they can damage your body. “They don’t realize how drinking so many of those things and not enough water can affect their kidneys.”
And at age 67, retirement is not a word that has entered into his vocabulary. He also thinks that his fellow seniors should take on the same attitude. “I see a lot of people who retire and they start going downhill fast,” noted Dodson. “If you are able, take on a part-time job or join the senior center to stay active.”
So for now, he is thankful for the ability to show up for 40 hours a week at Safeway. “I’ll keep working to help take care of the customer,” he added. “Without them, I don’t have a job, so I want to treat them the way I want to be treated.”