A snapshot into the life of a man who gave everything so that some could have affordable organic food.
I worked at a grocery store for eighteen months. During that time I met some great people and some great customers, but those stories are usually boring. It’s the crazies that you remember and make you wonder if you live in an orderly universe. So here are the best stories I can recall about the people I met in retail…
Customer #1 — The Conspiracy Theorist
T’was a dark and stormy day working an 11–7. I was approached by an old woman. This did not look like a normal sweet old lady. She looked like the bitch out of Shutter Island that shushed Leo DiCaprio.
She came up to me asking if we had any lemons — since there were none on the shelf. I knew we didn’t have any beforehand so I told her, “No.”
Now when you tell someone we’ve run out of a product you expect them to accept it blindly, even if an employee is lying. In this case, with lemons being a fruit, you hope that they’ll consider that lemons may be out of season. Because that is what happens to fruit. Or maybe, since we are a grocery store and not a farm, she would assume that we missed our truck’s shipment.
But no. When denied her lemons, she looked me dead in the eyes and said, “It’s the government.”
She thought the government was responsible for the shortage of lemons.
What scared me even more was that she made this claim with such conviction that I believed her, like an old female Morpheus showing me the red and blue pill. I wanted to ask her what else she knew…and also if she ever indeed met Leonardo DiCaprio.
Customer #2 — Satanical Bags
Our grocery store seemed to be a company that really understood its customers. For example, most tended to be eco-friendly. Being eco-friendly, they loved the paper bags they got with all their groceries. A stark contrast to the plastic bags that showcase how much they have sinned.
But before packing their groceries, customers are asked if they’d prefer their paper or plastic. Shoppers love this. They get a chance to be smug and assure you that they never use plastic. Letting us know once again that it’s bad for the environment. But on this day we had run out of paper bags. They did not get the chance to be smug. Instead of “paper or plastic?” it was, “Sorry, we ran out of paper. Do you mind plastic?”
Now with all the products we can potentially run out of as a grocery store, like lemons, customers were usually able to forgive us. But not when we ran out of paper bags. Customers were furious. They attacked our integrity as employees and the message our organic grocery store is supposed to represent. People were inflamed. It culminated when a customer told my coworker that plastic bags were the devil.
Customer #3 — Bouncing Melons
When you have customers buying fruit, they all want to know when it is ripe. And they also expect you to know how to test for it. You find out quickly that they’ll believe whatever you tell them. The same way people can be easily coerced into committing atrocities, they’ll do whatever you want to test if a banana is ready to be eaten.
On this day, a customer came up to me asking how to recognize a ripe watermelon. Jokingly, I told her, “If it’s ripe it should bounce.” And she fucking did it. She tried to bounce a watermelon. She dropped it and it splattered everywhere, as you expect any watermelon to do. And when she did this she didn’t apologize. She simply told me it wasn’t ripe. As if this was a normal routine for her shopping. Yet even though she destroyed her watermelon, she won because I still had to clean up the mess.