Saturday, April 4, 2009


People, people, people! I love you, but I gotta tell you, some of the things you all do in the produce department drive me absolutely crazy!

Lookit, we do our best to have fresh, attractive, tasty product for you to buy and consume, but some of you -- not all -- don't seem to appreciate the time and effort required to keep things looking good and being good.

Like the lady I came across one afternoon who was picking up pears -- one of the most delicate of fruits -- and apparently finding them wanting, tossing them from side to side atop the other pears. I mean, the thrown pears were smashing into the unthrown, bruising both beyond belief and destroying pears that others might have purchased, if they weren't so nasty looking. I asked her if there was a problem (politely) and she informed me that none of our pears were any good. I said, well, they're certainly no good now, so how do you define good? She wanted something firm (hard as a rock, as it turned out), so I said I believe we have some of those, but you won't find them until you get to the very bottom, and in the meantime, we have a case or so of pears that are definitely no good now. But, I continued, I would be pleased to get out some that might be more to her liking. She walked off in a huff.

Or the woman who came in one afternoon and informed me that I had ruined her dinner party. This was a surprise, since I hadn't been invited, so I asked (politely, I thought) exactly what I had done to ruin her party. It was the lettuce, she said. Which lettuce, I asked. The one with the rot in the center, she said, and then informed me she thought we ought to reimburse her the full cost of all the food she had purchased. I told her all I could do was reimburse her the cost of the lettuce and apologize, which I did. I'm sorry. That really got her going, and after about five minutes or so of being scolded for the condition of the lettuce that -- I had to point out -- she had bought, not me, I suggested (politely, I thought) that maybe she needed to shop somewhere else for awhile.

Or the people who seem to make a point of squeezing the tomatoes until they burst, looking, I suppose, for the perfect combination of softness and firmness. Or the people who lean on the tomatoes, placing their hand on top of a carefully stacked pile and putting their full weight down. Guaranteed squish, all the way to the bottom.

Or those of you who just have to have two of the oranges on the bottom row and then complain when the whole pile collapses on your feet.

Or those of you who complain that we don't fresh morel mushrooms in December (the season usually starts sometime in March or April and ends sometime in May or June).

I don't mean to imply in any way that we in the business are perfect. To my regret, I have been rude to customers several times over the course of my time in the business, and if you are one of those to whom I have spoken sharply or meanly, or simply ignored, I apologize. I'm not like that, really.

And people, I know we're Americans and we can do damn near anything we want and get damn near anything we want year around, but some of us seem to make a habit of being unpleasant or unthoughtful or simply unaware of how we are affecting things for everyone else. If you are among the "some," please, I ask you politely, stop it!

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