You know: in a foolish, undiscriminating way, I've been happy these last few months. I don't know why. I just am. I love my friends; I love my pupils; I love what I read; I -- dammit -- love my thoughts. I love the taste of oranges.
Thornton Wilder in a letter to Gertrude Stein, Aug 14, 1936

Monday, March 22, 2010


Who doesn't like to complain about Whole Foods?

People who don't shop there like to complain about the price -- they call it "Whole Paycheck"--and about the mildly aggressive, post-hippie attitude that pervades the premises. People who do shop there -- well, they complain about the prices and the attitude as well. But personally I have no real problem with the store. I figure if I am going to take it home and eat it, it doesn't much matter what it costs. I am not feeding a family of four. And as for the attitude, there is currently only one cashier I actively avoid.

There are, however, a couple of things.

On a spinner rack of shopping bags made from 100% recycled materials, I noticed one with the message, "I'm helping to save the planet. What are you doing?" I am sure you will agree that the only possible answer to that question is, "I am sticking this goddam bag up your self-righteous ass." I saw that bag one time over two years ago, and I haven't seen it since. I know I should have gotten over it, but I haven't.

The other has to do with signs in the parking lot and their proliferation. "Handicapped Parking"? Fine, more than just a good idea, it's the law. "10 Minute Curbside Pickup"? Very thoughtful, although the only person I've ever seen use it is the guy who comes a night with a telescope and wants to show you the moon. (Do I look like an eight-year-old?) I also think the one for pregnant women is sweet, although I worry about some one who is pregnant but not yet showing. What about that relative newlywed who has just gotten a positive result from her home pregnancy test and smiles somewhat self-consciously as she parks in the space for the first time, only to face the wrath of a women in the second trimester of her third pregnancy and driving a Sierra?

I am only put off by the sign, possibly unique to the Whole Foods I shop, that says, "This space for hybrid and eco-friendly vehicles only."

Let's look at this more closely. "Hybrids" is a clearly defined, vehicular category, but what exactly constitutes "eco-friendly"? Isn't this a matter of degree? Couldn't the driver of a Cadillac Coupe Seville ask the Hummer driver to please move his or her vehicle? And what need does the sign address? Possibly eco-friendly drivers who are either pregnant or just loading several carts-full of groceries could use the closer parking space, but beyond that what purpose is served here other than self congratulation? Who would not be embarrassed to park there?

I know who would not be embarrassed to park there. It's that person who, upon checking out, is asked, "Did you bring a bag?" and answers, "Oh, yes. Sorry, I forgot. It's up my ass."

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