Tonight I went to Trader Joe’s (boy, do I wish this were a sponsored post. It’s not).
First, I made an enemy of the girl with fuchsia lipstick because I stopped in my tracks to compliment her. She gave me such a LOOK that I didn’t even get to tell her that the reason I stopped is that her lipstick looked awesome, and that outfit was on-point, and it takes a very special person to pull off fuchsia. Fuchsia Girl, if you are reading, please know I didn’t mean to block your access to the hummus! I would never do that!
I was disappointed because the sample food was deep-dish pepperoni pizza. I remembered that at my Trader Joe’s in Portland, the employees would always have vegan/vegetarian snacks on-hand whenever they served meat samples. But this is New York, and in New York, you can give out any kind of sample and people will eat it. So probably these Traders don’t even know how many people they alienated with that pepperoni. Also, they almost certainly don’t care. But it’s okay because we’re all too busy becoming what dreams are made of to get hung up on these things, right?
At this Trader Joe’s you have to get in a line that loops around the store, next to a Trader holding an “END OF LINE” flag. Then, you wait to get sorted into three lanes to be further directed to one of the thirty cash registers. The three lanes each have a flag above them: one is a bunch of grapes, one is a wedge of cheese, and one is a steak. I don’t really like waiting in line, especially because you always get jostled by people who are still shopping, and I get worried that they are going to try to cut after they grab that tub of yogurt (so far nobody has cut in front of me, so let’s all have faith in humanity). But when I get to the front I get excited about being sorted, and I pretend the classification has some deeper meaning.
If I get grapes, I try—but fail—to remember when they are in season and send happy vibes to the United Farm Workers, Dolores Huerta, and César Chavez.
If I get cheese, I smile because it reminds me of how much I love Devin and cheesehead hats.
If I get steak, I remember how medium-rare steak was my favorite food when I was ten and how cool it is that my mom didn’t make me order from the kids’ menu if I didn’t feel like it.
Tonight I got steak and was sent to register 26.
At register 26 I impressed Trader Harry* with my most prized possession:
Harry loves NPR, like me, but his favorite show is ‘The Takeaway’, which is one of the few shows I have never heard. He scoffs at ‘Morning Edition’ and ‘All Things Considered’ because ‘they just don’t compare’.
Harry has a girlfriend who tap-dances, and when he talks about her, his face lights up.
Harry makes sure you get entered in the raffle for free groceries if you bring your own bag.
Harry guesses I always buy more groceries than I can comfortably carry because of a number of things: ‘the quality of the food, the prices––you know you’re getting a good deal, so it’s worth the sacrifice’.
Harry knows that the official closing time of his store is 10 PM. But he let me in on a little secret, and if you read all of this, you deserve to know it, too:
If you get there at 9:55, you can take your time and shop in peace!
Reporting live from a city where you need a strategy to buy groceries,
*Not his real name.