Nick Marcus was just doing his job at Trader Joe's at Town and Country Shopping Center in Palo Alto when a phone call turned him into a hero Friday morning, Aug. 24.
On the other end of the receiver was Denise Danielson, whose daughter Haley Owens, 17, and her friends had gone to Trader Joe's. Haley had called her mother to say she was suffering from insulin shock and desperately needed juice to balance the insulin overload. But she didn't have her wallet and couldn't buy the sugary drink she needed, Danielson said.
"She needed help before she would suffer a seizure and lapse into unconsciousness. ... She could no longer think clearly. She desperately needed juice to help revive her. I knew she was in trouble," Danielson said.
Marcus, 34, was manning the customer service desk. He had noticed the teens when they entered the store, but now he could not see them amid the tall shelving.
So he called out Haley's name and searched the store until he located her. She had already grabbed some orange juice from the shelves and was drinking it. She told him she had taken some sugar pills to stave off the escalating attack.
Marcus helped the girl to a place where she could sit and kept an eye on her so that she would not fall or pass out. He planned to reimburse the store for the drink out of his own pocket and to give Haley an energy bar from his personal stash if needed, he said. His manager gave him permission to give her the juice on the house, he said.
"I get hypoglycemic sometimes," he said, adding that he understands what it feels like to have one's sugar out of balance. He has helped his diabetic mother manage her own disease, so he knew what to do, he said.
For Marcus, helping a person in need is just what he does; it's part of the service the store tries to provide, he said, and it is part of his nature.
Reading a deeply grateful note from Danielson praising his help, Marcus was overcome by emotion. His eyes welled with tears.
"I didn't know it was that severe," he said.
The store has helped many people at various times during a crisis, he said.
"Older folks sometimes need assistance, and we put chairs out here so they can rest," he said, standing outside the automatic doors as patrons hurried past.
A father of two, Marcus has worked for Trader Joe's for 13 years. He said he loves the job and the people and has worked at the Palo Alto store for about 1½ years. He experienced one other serious medical emergency when he worked at the San Mateo store, he said.
"A customer had a seizure on the sales floor about six years ago," he recalled.
By the time Danielson arrived, her daughter was coming around, she said. In a world where people often turn away, Danielson said she is grateful for the small actions of a stranger that could have saved a life.
"Thank God for his quick thinking and actions, or my daughter would be in a hospital right now via ambulance. He is my hero, and I'm in tears as I write this," she said in an email to the Weekly. "Thank God for him."