Ok, before we start here, let me be very clear upfront: I love the employees at Whole Foods and most of their food products as well. I, like many long time customers are taking a new stand: It is the customers I cannot stand, and one quick pass through the inter webs will indicate I am not the only one.
This will be a short-ish rant, but some of the inspiration outside of personal experience for this article comes from a few widely circulated rants on this topic that are easily found on the web. And they all have one theme in common: the customers at Whole Foods are some of the most entitled and objectionable humans on the planet. And completely unaware that the rest of the world sees them this way. Can this be actually true? Lets look deeper.
My actual experience with Whole Foods in our area goes even further back into history, when the location was Bread and Circus, the feed store for all of the veggie/vegan/in your face socially pretentious foodies. The kind of people who know what is good for YOU and are quite willing to let you know. Luckily I am not shy in expressing some curt verbal ripostes that inform them of their transgressions, when appropriate.
The deli is a great source of amusement as many customers are militantly vegetarian, and militantly confrontational. My close friend was the butcher there, and delighted in coming to the deli counter slathered in blood and entrails to ask many a timid and shivering vegetarian if they needed help. Their gasps at his white apron and shirt covered in Manson massacre style blood splattering was more than recompense for the relatively low pay he received. I went to the deli once and asked for a quarter pound of turkey. They weigh it out and look to see 0.27 showing on the dial and ask if that is OK. I say of course it is why wouldn’t it be? The clerk related several tales of customers in the exact situation pointing at the scale saying “That is NOT 0.25, I asked for 0.25!” I express disbelief but three different deli clerks all related similar tales of customers going ballistic at overages of as low as 1/100 of a pound. These are the folks that are considered fair game for a discerning hunter of these shopping miscreants. Instead of weapons, a skillful hunter can use quiet and calm statements, and logic to work these folks into a veritable rabid dog frothing fury. Like the guy in a recent blog who was checking out behind an insufferable overly verbal complaint machine, and suggested he go to the customer service area to vent. Not realizing the guy was trying to just get him the hell out of line, the complaint machine decided to take him up on the suggestion, and dutifully got out of line to give the service area an earful, much to the delight of everyone else in line. They quickly checked out and watched the guy completely lose his shit with glee. The check out line can really be another bottleneck of idiocy, and is worthy of an article all its own.
(Another quick aside: My only real beef with Whole Foods is their alcohol and ID policy. They refuse to sell to anyone without an ID. A woman in front of me, visibly somewhere between 70 and 200 in age, forgot her ID. She wasn’t allowed her dinner wine. They refused to let other customers buy it for her. A rare moment of unconscionable behavior on their part. I saw this repeated just recently in 2016- a guy was buying a six-pack of beer, and was clearly in his late 70’s-how the hell can they do this to senior citizens and claim to be ‘all about the customers’? But lets get back to the evidence.)
One year, they tried out mini shopping carts so the socially conscious shopper could bring their munchkin along to help mommy shop. Mind you, the aisles were already so thin that two carts could not pass each other. Adding tiny terrorists pushing tiny carts willy nilly just made it a maddening and nearly impossible chore to grab a few things quickly and go.
(Aside and disclaimer: I am a peaceful person, my one and only fight was in fifth grade. But I have almost gotten in 3 or 4 fights inside of Whole Foods, and with both men and women. Two of my close friends have also said the same thing. “I waited out front for this guy to settle up once” said one, while the other said, “I never talk to strangers, but I have offered to kill some of these morons right in front of their families.”) The fact that these customers can bring normally calm and peaceful people to the edge of GBH is telling.
Anyway, my companion noticed the glut of carts and mumbled under her breath “this is a great idea..” Super Mom hears this, looks at her urchin rattling off both sides of the aisle like a crack fueled gerbil trying to escape their cage, and hustles off from the deli towards the bakery (leaving the kid behind, btw) to shriek at me “what did you say? what did you say?” Who the hell is this psycho following me? Companion reiterates that she just commented “great idea..” and nodded at the kid trying to push over a stack of canned soup with her mini cart. “They have a suggestion box up front you know!” she yelled and waggled her eyes towards the front. Many things popped to mind, but I calmly and quickly said “I suggest you go fuck yourself, don’t need a box”. Her eyes got big and her demeanor apoplectic, but like many of the PC police that frequent here, couldn’t follow through on her bluster. She turned ten shades of purple, realized her kid was off playing demolition derby in the cookie aisle, and left the scene, unfulfilled. I smiled, I felt great.
Another time I had recently broken my elbow, and was in an inflatable cast and a very visible arm sling. One would suppose that in such a tiny berthed store, a visibly wounded person would be given some leeway. But at Whole Foods? Of course not! I have seen people on crutches pushed out of the way by gluten free gorillas seeking wheat free bread, (and unable to even explain what gluten is when asked, or why they quit wheat bread for overpriced sawdust bread, or how they previously survived on gluten their whole lives without any problems.)
I try to one arm maneuver my cart through the fruit and vegetable area, the only actual open spaced area in the store. I watched a woman come perilously close, and knew she’d hit me. She naturally hit me on the point of the elbow, just where the break was. Lighting bolts of pain crossed my eyelids and I stumbled. She didn’t apologize or even notice. I go from oranges to potatoes, ten feet, and she hurtles towards me, oblivious of anyone in her path. Would she hit me again only two minutes later? Yep. This time I grunt and motion to my highly visible sling. She looks behind me as if I am invisible. I go around her, get to the end of the vegetable section, she wheels around and manages to hit my broken elbow right on the point for the THIRD time in five minutes. Paroxysms of pain ensue. Hitting my limit, I offer her the following advice “Lady, woman or not, if you hit me one more time on my BROKEN elbow, I will fucking deck you.” She looked genuinely bewildered, clearly not having any idea as to how she could have provoked such an unexplained explosion from me.
It is this kind of obliviousness that many have spoken of as being so maddening. I watched just this month a confrontation in the entrance area between an Armani suited and preening yuppie type with similarly overdressed arm candy girl give a hellacious dressing down to a poor farmer type leaving with a couple of carriages. How a huge conflagration could develop this quickly in the damn entrance of a store encapsulates the fury that some can cause. Was it Armani or the farmer that started it? No one could tell, but they were ready to settle up right there. No other place in America has this kind of customer base. My only hope is that one of these self absorbed permanently irate folks read this, look in the mirror, and say “Oh my God! Am I an asshole?” That would be a small victory.