Saturday, June 5, 2010

Trader Joe's & Desperate Housewives

The first time it happened to me, I shook it off as a fluke.  The college-aged kid behind the register took forever to slide my celery, frozen waffles, and edamame across the scanner.  He asked me whether I'd tried the the Cuban-style black beans before, and asked if I thought they were healthier than standard black beans.  He stopped.  Literally stopped, looked me in the eye and waited for my answer before scanning a bag of dried mangoes.

Meanwhile I was thoroughly distracted by his paw-like hands.  Seriously.  They were just enormous. He was a tall guy, but his hands - totally out of scale.

The next time, I thought it might be a joke. This day, the checkout guy was maybe post-grad age, dark haired and serious. He asked me about the weather outside - it was early spring, and just starting to warm up.  I hesitated, then ventured that the heat was ok, I guess. He stopped short, made full eye contact, and asked in a sincere way why I wasn't sure about this beautiful weather.  Mumbling about having already put away winter gear,  I was feeling a bit flustered.  Again, stopping short with the scanning he looked me straight in the eye and with a shy smile murmured I wish someone would sort my clothes out for me.

This is when I started looking around to see if there was maybe a Punk'd camera down in the frozen aisle. What?!?!



People?  I'm 37.  The days of picking up grocery-store checkers is long gone - oh wait, I NEVER HAD THOSE DAYS - and let's just say I'm nowhere near the league of Real Housewives of New York.   I really haven't been hitting the aisles of Trader Joes in some sexy skinny jeans and a low cut top. You will forgive me if I thought I was somehow part of Ashton Kutcher's show.

I approached my next trip to Trader Joes with trepidation.  I selected my items for the least conversational value, and dragged all three kids along with me.  Just wanted to test a theory here.

Rolled up to the shortest line:  lo and behold, it was Mr Unsorted Clothing.  Several weeks later, there's no way he recognized me as his Clothes Sorting Mom, and he starts chatting with me about books.  Books, people!   Have I read To Kill a Mockingbird?  Atlas Shrugged?  Love In the Time of Cholera? He starts talking to me - at length - about an ethics course he took, and how it changed his life.  Meanwhile I'm bagging my own groceries and wondering about the parallel universe I've entered.

I'm in the wilds of suburbia, trying to buy Gorilla Munch cereal and organic apples, and I am part of this kid's spiritual journey.

Today took me over the edge.  Was just trying to buy a can of coffee.  The kid at the checkout examined the label, and wanted to know if i thought his brother, who was a real coffee snob, would like my brand. And did I think it was worth it to buy the free-trade kind?

I've been too bashful to ask other mothers-of-a-certain-age if they have experienced this phenomenon.  But now I've just got to come out - to tell the world that I am a HUGE FAN of Trader Joes' HR policies.    Chat up the rumpled housewives - tell 'em your darkest secrets.  Apparently, they'll be so confused you can load up their bag with the 42 extra packs of Cinnamon Flavor Soy Crisps without them even registering.

20 comments:

dianeswords.wordpress.com said...

certainly are a chatty bunch. i never had any ask about sorting clothes but i do recall on my semi-frequent visits to trader joes that they ask a lot of questions about the food they sell. this is too funny.

CaraBee said...

Honestly, I haven't been to Trader Joe's in forever. The closest one is not that close, so I make do with my Safeway. Perhaps they get a more existential group of checkers there because most of the gals at my store are not discussing Ayn Rand and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Heck, I had to explain to one of them the difference between cilantro and parsley. I would definitely get a little flustered if I met your big-handed (ahem) checker. Enjoy it!

Heather of the EO said...

Hilarity.

I love how you tell a story, lady.

Maybe you're HOTTER than you think you are ;)

Lisa said...

I love Trader Joe's. I love them for the delicious food, their frozen meals, and their extensive cheese selection. (I heart queso.) But I love the fact that, unlike the other stores where people seem to hate their livelihood, TJ's folks seem to love what they do. They're passionate about their food, always offering samples and opinions, and always smiling and joking with each other. Every time I go, I feel like I have a genuine conversation with them; unlike the big stores where you can read the words "DID YOU GREET THE CUSTOMER IN A PLEASANT MANNER?" written on their screens, chiding and chastising. They hire great people,and that's one reason I love shopping there.

And yes, you're hotter than you think you are. ;)

Moxie said...

I have been to Trader Joe's on both the East and West coast and I think I can say with complete certainty: no, it's not just you. The guys who work there all seem to have this gleam in their eye, as if they are in MILF heaven. It could be a hiring requirement: "Men must love women, all ages, shapes and sizes." And notice how the women who work there are pretty, but not threateningly pretty? Probably another requirement for working at TJ's.

At my old building in the LBC there was a 20something college student, Roland, who worked at the local TJ's. He was flirty when I'd run into him at the store and he was flirty when I'd see him at the building. He told me it was awesome working there - and why not when you can flirt with customers all day long?

Years ago I saw a rap on craigslist written about being a guy working at Trader Joe's and loving the ladies...will see if I have it saved anywhere.

hezro said...

Ohhh...must return to Trader Joes. :)

Varda said...

I totally ditto Lisa's last comment.

And am getting more excited than ever that there's a Trader Joe's opening up soon on my home turf here in NYC on the UWS.

Hmm, gonna have to make a little more effort than slapping a bra on under the T-shirt I slept in and slipping on yesterday's baggy cargo pants to do school drop off in the AM (since right after that's my usual grocery shop time).

Thanks for making me laugh yet again.

Varda said...

p.s. I added you to my "read these" blogroll, so would you add me to yours? (no, this is nothing like "I showed you mine, now show me yours.")

Cheryl said...

It IS something about TJs. It happens to me there, too (and nowhere else). They totally chat, asking you questions about what you buy, what the weather's like, what size bra you wear...okay, maybe not the last one. But the girls who work there (I say girls because they're college-aged and I'm, well, not) also take the time to chat. Have you tried going through a line with a girl checker? Try it and get back to us! ;)

Either that, or you're just hot. Which could totally be it.

LoveFeast Table said...

I met a TJ check out girl who did "Food Art" on the side. She created it and it was so good, it was used in a Smithsonian exhibit. I asked her questions, shared with her my passions, even exchanged info...I'm a little bummed I didn't follow through! That would have taken me down a deeper TJ rabbit hole!
~kristin

Dave Cooper said...

This is great! Now I know to pick the line with the female cashier for a little boost of the ol' self-confidence. Hmmm, I think we're out of Gorilla Munch. Of I go!

Jen C said...

Dave, you have your boost of confidence. You have Yuni.

kirsten said...

bwahahahaha Coopers - you're killing me. All of us need a Yuni in our lives - maybe I'm just looking to find mine at TJs.

Lori-Anne said...

Wow, I wish we had one of those in my neck of the woods. Where I shop (it's called Super Store but everyone I know calls it Stupid Store) you're lucky to get a "have a nice day." I find the self check-outs more engaging.

Aging Mommy said...

I wish we had Trader Joe's here too - last time I went to my local store I just got growled at for using the 15 items or less line when all I had was 14 items - it's just that those boxes of diapers make it look like you have more :-)

Wonderful post, I just love how you describe each visit. I would simply say make the most of it, a little charm never hurt anyone.

Elma said...

You're making me jealous... Wish they would come take over some UK stores! I'd shop every day :)

Missy said...

We don't have Trader Joe's here (sad!), but there is Target checkout guy and two Target checkout women who flirt with me, the 36-year-old, sweaty-workout-clothes-wearing, kid-wrangling, hassled-looking mom. Must be a customer service policy to chat up the moms. Not sure how I feel about it...

Great post - fantastic story!

Harold of Scaggsville said...

Moxie said it. MILFs and Cougars are in, old dudes are out.

Our TJ's does have one young lady who wears exceptionally tight denim cutoffs just for when I tag along to the store. Of course I usually don't notice her waiting to tell me about her finance and accounting classes because I'm so caught up in the fact that everything in my basket will only come to about $35.

Love TJ's DING! Someone say coffee in a little paper cup?

prashant said...

I love how you tell a story, lady.
Contextual Ad Network India

Keda said...

hopefully that happens when you are 37 because at 33, it doesn't and you kind off feel like you are disappearing, hoping in vain that sooner or later you will have time to do all those sit ups and crunches in order to get back your flat stomach because that will at least bring back a part of you...

Related Posts with Thumbnails