All In One Map-Dot

I don’t normally get political, and I’m not now either, but the other day something wonderful occurred to me when I was at work. First of all, when I’m not writing, blogging, interviewing, and promoting, I work at a bakery inside the HyVee grocery store in my smallish town of Bloomington, Illinois. If any of you don’t know about HyVee, it’s a midwestern chain that I like to describe as the Disneyland of grocery stores. Manners are applauded and friendly customer service is the top priority above and beyond everything else. Our motto is: A helpful smile in every aisle. Not only that, we pride ourselves on having excellent, clean, and local products, and if local products aren’t available, we make the items in house. For example, we don’t receive peach turnovers from our corporate factory, yet one of our customers… just one… loves them and orders them special, so we make them from scratch.

It’s that kind of treatment that sets HyVee apart from other stores and why it is the ONLY grocery store I would ever work for.

With that said, let’s go back to my original thought. As I was slicing some artisan bread for a regular customer, I realized how amazing it was that this regular was here in Bloomington all the way from Congo, Africa.  I know this because he has an incredible accent, and deep, reverberating voice, had me asking where he was from a while back.

So as I’m helping him, I asked if his guests had gone back home to Belgium, a topic we had talked about the week before. He said, yes, and then, out of curiosity, I was prompted to look around the bakery. Here, standing before me was a customer from Africa, with friends from Belgium, one of our bakers is from Germany, another from Guatemala, a cake decorator from India, our newest employee is from the Phillipines, and I have relatives straight off the boat from Ireland with family from Korea and China. All these races, all these cultures working together, harmoniously in an area no bigger than the bottom floor of my townhouse. How fantastic is that?!

After all the turmoil, strife, and violence our country has endured over the last couple of weeks, shouldn’t we take an example from this little tiny map-dot in the middle of the United States and live and work together in peace no matter where we’re from, and what we look like? And as I close, the one thing I took away from this passing thought a few days ago, cutting bread for a man from the Congo, all of our cultures… ALL of them… are beautiful.


Excuse me Miss would you please leave…

This week is Thanksgiving and a lot of blogs are featuring “What I’m Thankful For” or “Thanksgiving Nightmares”, but I’m reminded of something a little more simpler and I would really like this to be an interactive blog today.  I want to know some of your Grocery Store Nightmares!  I can’t be the only one who’s been asked, “Would you please leave?” or have witness something traumatic at the local super market.

One of my first grocery store moments was when I was in Connecticut and very young.  I don’t remember who I was with, but we were in a gourmet food store that has barrels of food amongst the aisles, like soaking dill pickles.  Being the always curious child, I remember sticking my hand in a barrell and it was this nasty thick concoction that reminded me of oatmeal.  It was slimy, chunky and smelled earthy and natural.  I have no idea what it was, but the adult that I was with pulled my arm out of the barrell and had to drag me outside to towel me off.  And to this day I don’t eat oatmeal because of the thick, disgusting texture in that barrell.

Another nightmare was in Norwalk, Connecticut at the big Stew Leonard’s store.  I was in my teens and just recently realized how afraid of people being stomach sick bothered me.  I had disliked it since I was 5, but an experience at school brought that dislike to a fear.  (Yes, Diane, I’m talking about you!)  Anyhow, back to the story, so Stew Leonards;  this woman was shopping intently, looking from her list to the shelves, yelling at the toddler in the top seat of the cart, thoroughly distracted enough not to notice that her older child in the basket of the cart was tossing his cookies out the back.  It was so disgusting!! I remember crying, begging my dad for the keys to the car and running away from the store.

The last story I have and believe me it’s not end of my stories haha 🙂 (seriously, if grocery stores were like doctor’s offices and shared information, I would never be let into one.)  This one is definitely one of my favorite stories, though the manager at Albertson’s in San Diego, California would disagree.  Jon, my husband – then boyfriend, were shopping and being very silly.  We had a cart full of food to bring home and make a nice dinner, when we started charging each other and getting tickle-y.  Laughter filled the aisles and we were like two little kids having a grand ol’ time.  Well, that is until we reached the produce aisle and Jon started to threaten to tickle my very ticklish spot if I didn’t stop going after him.  I kept away from him, walking backwards out of the aisle, fending himoff and that’s when it happened.  I backed into one of those fancy wire racks that hold wine bottles much like this  :and all six bottles of red wine came crashing to the ground one by one as if in slow motion, shattering and spilling cabernet from one side of the aisle to the other.  The sound was defeaning, the mess intense and the shock devestating as the manager ran over to see what  happened.  Jon and I stood quietly to the side as the manager radioed for clean up, his face as beat red as the pooling wine at his feet with anger towards us.  Jon immediately offer to pay for the broken wine bottles, but the man put his hand up and said, “I think it would be best if you would just leave and never come back.”

Without another word, I grabbed my purse out of the full cart of groceries and silently, Jon and I exited Albertsons never to return again.  It was awful… we were so embarrassed!  Now we laugh at it, but that was definitely the topper of grocery store nightmares.

In the comments below, please add some of your favorite grocery store stories, if it is too embarrassing and you want to remain anonymous just make up a name like Cookie Monster or something.  I still want to read it 🙂 .  Enjoy!