Whole Foods Market – Love to Hate It

Posted on March 1st, 2006 in Commentary by EngineerBoy
'Hole Foods Market

‘Hole Foods Market

We should be right in the target demographic for Whole Foods Market. Mynagirl is vegetarian, I try to eat relatively healthily, we like natural and organic foods, and we don’t penny-pinch when it comes to grocery shopping.

However, we go there as little as possible, even though there are some things that we can only get there. For example, I stopped eating ground beef from grocery stores and restaurants (click here to find out why) but I eat organic and/or grass-fed ground beef, both of which Whole Foods carries. Yes, Kroger and Randall’s carry some form of organic ground beef, but it’s frozen and the volumes they sell means that it’s usually not the freshest. But the meat counter at Whole Foods has trays filled with fresh organic and grass-fed ground beef.

Whole Foods also has a produce section filled with organic fruits and vegetables, rather than the few organic things carried by mainstream grocery stores. We also prefer natural sugar as opposed to refined white sugar, whole grains as opposed to bleached white flour, preservative-free as opposed to shelf-stable-for-our-convenience, and additive-free as opposed to chemically-treated-and-or-irradiated-to-kill-any-possible-bad-things-while-introducing-who-knows-what-long-term-health-effects.

So, Whole Foods Market should be the place for us, right, right?

Wrong! Wrong!

The reason that Whole Foods is wrong for us is because every trip there is an exercise in frustration and annoyance, and a test of my patience with people. You see, I have almost zero tolerance for the following:

  • Narcissists
  • Rudely oblivious people who think the entire world not only revolves around them but also needs to cater to their every need and whim, including freeing said oblivious person from having to demonstrate the common courtesy that all humans must demonstrate to get along in this world, such as sharing space in the aisles of grocery stores with other carts, moving out of peoples way if one is blocking the entire pathway (particularly if there is plenty of room to get out of the way and said oblivious person is blocking the entire pathway simply because they are oblivious and self-centered)
  • BMW drivers (or is that the same group as above?)
  • Health freaks (those who take “healthiness” to OCD levels)
  • Poseurs
  • People with obvious affectations
  • People who park in the fire lane of grocery stores to load/unload, making all other traffic go around them and reducing traffic flow to one lane, simply for their own convenience, and oblivious to the fact that if all shoppers did the same there would be anarchy and chaos, but they count on the fact that nobody else is rude enough to do what they do so they know they can get away with it
  • In other words, every single other person in WFM other than Mynagirl and me

Not only that, but the layout of WFM (at least the one on Kirby in Houston) is a tightly-packed rat maze with all of these oblivious, rude, narcissists packed in together like sardines jostling for position with as little human compassion or interaction as possible, and with zero friendliness or politeness that I have experienced. And that last part is the literal truth. I have never interacted with a WFM patron who was even slightly polite, and most are outright rude, brusque, and dismissive. I don’t know if it’s the lack of protein in their diets or the fact that many of them eat healthily only as an affectation while not really beleiving it, and so are cranky at constantly doing something they don’t want to do, but feel they must do in order to keep up the imaginary image they have of themselves.

You may be thinking that perhaps there’s something that I’m doing to trigger these reactions, but trust me, I’m not. I was raised in a small Texas town by a mother who taught me to be polite and friendly and to treat others as I would like to be treated. I’ve tried that at ‘Hole Foods Market – for example, at a particularly tight intersection I’ve stopped to allow cross-aisle traffic to go, waiting for someone in the other lane to stop and let me through, as I was stopping to let them through, and instead have experienced person after person breezing past as if I were the Royal Guard keeping the hoi polloi at bay while their procession passed. And it was very clear that I wanted to cross the intersection, and if I hadn’t finally decided to just rudely cut somebody off and force my way into the flow, I’d still be there.

Now, you may say that that’s life in the big city, and I should just get used to it. Well, I lived in the Northeast (NY/NJ) for several years, so I understand how to live in a brusque and rude society. And up there, it’s actually not rudeness, because it is the expected behavior. That’s the way everybody is, and one is expected to simply assert one’s self similarly – no harm, no foul.

But this is Texas, where people are friendlier. And in virtually every other retail situation that I experience, I get normal Texas hospitality. But not at ‘Hole Foods Market, for some reason. And I go to all kinds of other snooty places here in Houston, and still don’t find myself feeling like I’m in some rat-infested little market on some street corner in New York, dealing with brusque, uncaring idiots. Only at ‘Hole Foods Market.

And I think that may be part of it – WFM has laid their stores out to be like a cramped NYC deli/grocery, and the people who shop there I’m sure include a high percentage of people who subscribe to the Sunday edition of the New York Times, and think the only real place to see a play is Broadway, and make sure to make one or two shopping trips to NYC each year, because that’s the only place to really get good fashions, don’t you know? And so they watch Annie Hall and Sex and the City and The Sopranos and decide to put on those New York airs and blend.

Yeah, I’ve got your blend right here, pal. How about this? How about you remember that you’re in Texas and that here people’s default behavior is to be friendly to each other? How about you put aside your affectations and airs and treat other people like human beings when you’re at ‘Hole Foods Market? And how about you park in a parking space, just like the other 95% of the people there, who somehow manage to struggle and strive to roll their carts an additional 50 feet to their cars, which you seem to be unable to do so must pull up and inconvenience everybody else?

And how about the next time we cross paths in the aisles and I have the right of way and you try to cut me off, I just push my way in front of you, slap your cart and say, “Hey, I’m shopping here!!”

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