“Watch him,” Fred, the hardware manager whispered. “He's going right down the tool aisle.”

Fred, Matt (the store manager), and I were huddled in Fred's office, peeking out the window that overlooked the store to spy on a customer.

“There he goes, right to the tape measures,” Fred reported.

“Now he's looking at the hammers. Look out! He's heading for the electrical aisle!”

We watched the customer's every step as he shopped around the store. We even shadowed him as he went across the store and into the paint department.

Finally, we stood in front of the windows at the front of the store and watched the contractor get into his truck and drive away.

“See what I mean?” Fred said to us, shaking his head knowingly.

“Not really,” I thought to myself. It was obvious to me that we had just witnessed something profound. What wasn't obvious was what that profound thing was.

We reconvened in his office to discuss this nameless profoundness.

“That customer never once spoke to a company employee until he checked out,” Fred said. Not that he needed to. He knew the store very well and had easily found the handful of hardware and paint items he needed. “He didn't even use the contractor checkout.”