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Yesterday we were up in Jericho so we stopped in to Whole Foods. I’ve never been there on a Sunday. We always hit Whole Foods late on a Saturday — maybe 4 or 5 p.m., when it’s quieter and mellower. Yesterday at 1 p.m., however, it was a zoo. People everywhere. You could hardly get through the aisles. The place and the people were so wacky I thought I was going to have to abandon my cart, take my kids and husband, and leave.

Everyone was so rude! (And by everyone I mean about 40 to 50 percent of the other shoppers. I do not exaggerate!) Pushing, shoving, getting pissy about having to wait as my indecisive 6-year-old picked a cold cereal. Those who weren’t pissy were clueless. Hogging the entire aisle. Standing in front of a shelf forever, and being angry if I “excused me” in to grab a jar of tomato sauce. Even the meat counter guys weren’t their cheery, helpful selves. (And those guys are always so super-nice.) It was as if the collective store’s bad mood had transferred past the grass-fed beef, through their white aprons, and into their heads.

I know I wasn’t making it up, either, because the coffee barista agreed that the nuts were out, and they were on a tear.

I had finally managed to transverse the store and make it to the cheese/deli/bakery aisle and there he was sitting there steaming milk for another patron. I had to stop. The coffee smelled too good to pass up. (And no, I didn’t have my reusable cup, but I was that thirsty for the decaf coffee of the day.) He smiled at me when I got to the counter. “Sheesh,” I said. “This places is nuts. I’ve never seen it like this.” He nodded. “Yep, it’s pretty nuts here on Sundays.” I agreed, and said, “Yeah, and everyone is so rude!” He smiled again and started asking questions. “Did anyone ram your cart yet?” I shook my head. No, that would have been the straw that broke this camel’s back. No, I said, the latest one of my fellow shoppers’ transgressions was the snotty pin-thin woman who yelled at my daughter, “Could you move,” while sneering at my little girl. The barista nodded sagely, telling me the only time he ever yelled at kids was when they were running in the store and about to get hurt. No, I explained, it was nothing like that. Big Girl had been trying to pick a box of oatmeal, and the woman didn’t like having to weave around her.

The barista gave me a sheepish smile, added some “nice steamed milk” to my coffee, and gave me my change. “Sometimes it gets like this,” he said, as he handed me my coffee. Once he confirmed what I knew — that aliens had taken over my favorite store — we quickly went to the registers, paid $150.40 for our five bags of groceries (we buy all our meat there) and left. As we were leaving my husband gave me a look and said, “And you think people up here are any better than others? You want to move up here? Nasty, stuck-up, and obnoxious, that’s what these people are.” In this instance, I had to agree. We had run into a lot of mean people at that Whole Foods store.

Here’s my take on things. This is a generalization, I know. There are two types of green and eco-minded people here on Long Island. Okay, maybe three. Those who do it for health reasons, those who do it because they can afford it — so why not, and those who do it because it’s the “trendy” thing to do. I have a feeling that some, not all, of course, of the people who were there at Whole Foods yesterday fell into the two latter categories. Driving their Range Rovers and Cadillac Escalades, wearing their stiletto heels (who the hell shops in heels?), wearing their fur-lined jackets, buying food for someone else since God knows it looked like some of them hadn’t eaten in months. Those are the people who are a mix of trendy and/or able to afford it. They couldn’t tell you what a carbon credit was if it bit them.

Yes, I know this is very judgmental and maybe even prejudice, by sheesh, that was a bad experience. One I will never repeat. I’ll go to Whole Foods during the week when the mean people are out clubbing baby seals or taking out their unsorted trash. (And for what it’s worth: I’d still move to Jericho schools.)

Author’s note: This is, quite obviously, satire. Yes, it happened just like this. Yes, there were plenty of mean people at that Whole Foods, but I know that there are plenty of nice people who live in Jericho, too. It is a commentary about how people can do the right things for themselves, but the wrong things for their fellow mankind. And this means you, evil woman who yelled at my daughter, or the woman who stole my parking spot. The one driving an Escalade wearing stilettos and fur.

5 Responses to “Kind to the Earth, Mean to Fellow Shoppers”

  1. Christina Le Beau says:

    OK, Karen, step away from the keyboard… ;-)

    Seriously, I feel your pain because I shop at the ritziest grocery store in my area, too. BUT. I think a lot of that behavior might have to do with it being a Sunday. I try to shop during the week precisely because it’s less crowded, and people are nicer and less stressed out. Sundays are a bear because everyone is trying to get stuff done before Monday and resenting the fact that they’re grocery shopping instead of doing something fun. Just something to think about…

    Chris

  2. Dee says:

    Aw, heck, I SO know what you mean! There are certain times you just avoid Whole Foods. I love a quiet morning Whole Foods shop just after the kids have gone off to school, to avoid just such a scene. YOu get the attention you want, esp. since I usually have a number of questions for the folks in the supplements section. I, too, have no lover for the posers, but even the posers, if they are doing something towards being a bit greener or whatever even if it’s just for show, well…better than nothing. Right? And…I hate Escalades, stillettos, and fur, too. And meanies who shout at kids.

  3. Shari G says:

    Funny. I notice the people at Trader Joes are nice and the people in Whole Foods are not. Maybe it is something in the air. Who knows.

  4. Christina says:

    Karen, You need to move to Brooklyn and join the Park Slope food co-op, where I belong. It can be a maddening experience shopping there because, being run by members, there is a lot of ineptitude–but we all appreciate the amazing produce and good prices so much that we generally keep our pissiness to ourselves. Rudeness is rare.

    What kind of oatmeal did Katelyn choose?

  5. susandelg says:

    I’ve experienced this kind of rudeness in every kind of food store, not only Whole Foods or Fairway, and even Trader Joe’s. Once in King Kullen I was using the self checkout and having problems with the computer, and the man behind me started making rude comments. I’d like to say that I was able to ignore him, but he angered me so much that I volleyed back with my own verbal assault, adding to an already stressful situation. One need not shop at a green grocer to find self-absorbed rudeness. Including my own.

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