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Where's the love, man?

Friday, February 15, 2008 Leave a Comment

I should have known better than to go to Whole Foods on Valentine's Day.

It was full of hurried and harried Very Important People rushing to get that gorgeous bouquet of flowers, that filet mignon, that bottle of Pellegrino, that Stilton cheese.

Somehow, yesterday's shopping experience left me feeling that it was entirely inappropriate to bring my 2 year old along to the grocery store.

It all begins in the parking lot -- the perpetually full parking lot. SUVs and BMWs are hanging out in every aisle, blinkers on, impatiently waiting for someone to load their car and get out. I just drove straight to the back. You know, right next to the huge puddle of water.

I got my son out of his car seat and into my arms, and was ready to cross the parking lot when a car pulled out on the other aisle. The Lexus or whatever in front of me didn't have time to wait for us to cross, so he gunned it. Right through the puddle. Which splashed all over us.

He didn't have time to apologize, apparently, and it was cold and now we were wet, so we ran on in.

There was a kid busily stacking shopping carts away. I went for one of the big ones -- the normal size carts. He didn't offer to help. The first one didn't have a seat, so I had to pull it out and get the next one. The kid let out a big sigh.

"It doesn't have a seat," I explained, pulling out another, strapping my kid in, and maneuvering the seatless one out of the way, all with one hand. There was another mom waiting, too.

"I suppose you want one with a seat, too," the kid said bitterly.

Having thus created a huge blockage of the front door, I hurried in...


...To the jam-packed produce section, where they had two flower stands set up. There was absolutely no room to maneuver a big cart, and what mom doesn't hesitate to leave their kid while they run over to pick out a head of butter lettuce? I mentally calculated the best spot to pull the cart over, run over, grab my lettuce, and get back before the kid started yelling or squirming. By the time we passed the apples, he was yelling for one, so I grabbed one, wiped it off on my shirt, and took a starter bite for him. An older lady looked at me with genuine disgust. She shook her head, continuing to select her apples.

By the time we reached the to-go food, my son was ready for lunch. We got into the sandwich line. With our big cart.

"Is this the end of the line?" One exasperated man asked me. "I can't tell where the line ends, that cart is taking up the whole line."

I apologized and tried to scoot aside.

Then we paid, then we headed for the one open booth. While I parked the cart and unstrapped my son, a well-dressed older woman slid in and set up her lunch, spreading it across the table, making it clear she wasn't in the mood for sharing the booth with us, either.

Are you kidding me?

What gets me is that Whole Foods is supposed to be about a better experience of shopping. That's their brand message, isn't it? Buying organic/locally grown/sustainable/expensive food is supposed to be more noble than buying your average grocery store crap. As if feeding your body better food means that you're more spiritually evolved than a King Soopers shopper; as if awareness of where your food comes from entitles you to a higher echelon of society; and it goes without saying that only the privileged can afford to do their daily shopping at Whole Foods.

Yet the shoppers yesterday at Whole Foods seemed to have a smug, superior attitude that entitled them to act like impatient, line-cutting jerks. "I was here first" wins out over common courtesy.

Where's that spiritually evolved, empathetic, we-are-one action? Can't you give a mom of a rambunctious toddler a break?

Then again, maybe it was just the collective frustration over America's most over-marketed holiday that reached a crescendo yesterday at noon at the Cherry Creek Whole Foods. That, I understand completely.

3 comments »

  • Penny said:  

    I've never experienced a crowded whole foods in Denver, but I have experienced plenty of rude people hogging the booths and things, and it makes me wish there were alternatives to shopping there. Monday mornings are, by comparison, much more casual, fyi (if you can make it there that is).

    For what it's worth, I don't think it's specific to children; it's seems like just a general rude attitude.

  • Kris said:   This comment has been removed by the author.
  • Kris said:  

    ahhh Whole Foods.... In Boston at Whole Foods I've actaully seen well dressed women yelling at each other and nearly coming to blows because one took the roast that the other was planning to pick up.

    The parking lot at the Cherry Creek Whole Foods is definitely out of control and there is certainly something about that store that doesn't bring out the best in people. I don't know if its the people it attracts, or the store itself, but I frequently decide that it's not worth the stress to be there.