Even though for his health he no longer eats ham, Deputy Kevin Snyder of the Hall County Sheriff’s Office shows up to The Honey Baked Ham Company on Thompson Bridge Road every Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.
He’s not there to stand in line because his wife told him to pick up the turkey — he’s there to protect those that are.
“I’m here pretty much as traffic detail,” Snyder said. “It’s really tight quarters, and if I don’t keep the traffic moving, it will get jammed up and we’ll have an accident.”
Honey Baked Ham has hired Snyder, along with other law enforcement, for the past nine years to help keep things under control at its store in Gainesville that gets especially busy around the holidays.
And for the volume the store sees, it’s a small space to control.
The store and the parking lot both take up just a small corner on Thompson Bridge Road, so Snyder has to be there to make sure things flow.
“I’ve never had a fender-bender in here in the time I’ve been here, so I’m doing good so far,” Snyder said, laughing. “I need some wood to knock on.”
If it wasn’t for an old, shut-down Citgo gas station next door, there would be people parking across the street at Publix, running across the street to pick up their Thanksgiving Day meal.
After nine years, Snyder said things have stayed mostly quiet as he’s been out at the store.
It’s the interaction with all the customers he enjoys the most.
“I like doing it, I love doing it,” Snyder said, as a customer drove by wishing him a happy Thanksgiving. “The people I get to deal with is awesome. And I’ve been doing it so long, I see the same patronus coming out here year after year, so everybody knows me.”
He said he hands out glow sticks to some of the kids who are there with their parents.
“I’ll get out here and start carrying on with everybody coming in,” Snyder said. “It just livens up the place when you get along with everybody.”
And good thing Snyder is there to liven things up, because sometimes the line can wrap around the building with a 40-minute wait. That’s what Tom Fairbrother, general manager, said happened last year. In his first Thanksgiving as general manager, he made sure the store was prepared.
“We’ve got nine people on three registers,” Fairbrother said. “You can move them right along and the line never backs up. There’s one on each side of the register, so one just scans and it keeps flowing.”
He said “they made it sound scary,” but everything went well in the days leading up to Thanksgiving.
“You just have to know what your doing and have a great staff,” Fairbrother said. “Just have an idea what you're doing, and your good.”
It also helps to have that deputy outside. Snyder said he’s usually out at the store anywhere between eight and 13 hours for two or three days around the holidays. The extra money in his pocket is nice and his hard work was rewarded as he got to spend Thanksgiving with family and get his hands on some of his favorite Thanksgiving side dish — cranberry sauce.
“Cranberry sauce, over everything,” Snyder said. “Well, sweet potato souffle, too. I like the sweet stuff.”