Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Soy Rage: The Dark Secret of Trader Joes

Dear Asshole In Line At Trader Joe's:

First of all, you smell, and I wouldn’t have gotten in line behind you in the first place if it wasn’t the most convenient checkout near the exit. Then, when I asked you to hold my place for a second so that I could grab an Orangina which was around six feet away and you said, “Hold your place? What does that mean? I don’t think so,” I noticed that your breath smelled, too. Also? Get a decent haircut.


p.s. Your goatee is stupid.
p.s.s. So is your earring.

As you can see, I had another bad encounter today at Trader Joe's.

The last one was a few weeks ago, when I was waiting for a parking space and a woman pulled up behind me, got out of her car and started yelling at me to "get going." My girls were in the car so I didn’t get a chance to tell her to get her wrinkly, pale ass back into her Mercedes, but I wanted to. Then I wanted to grab her by the hair, swing her around a few times and throw her so far she’d have to have the Space Station retrieve her dehydrated, lifeless body. When I got out of my car a guy who had witnessed the whole thing shook his head and said, “What is it about Trader Joe's that brings out the worst in people?” I thought he was reading my mind, but really he was just talking about that awful woman.

It’s a mystery I’ve been pondering lately. Why does Trader Joe's, which by all appearances attracts a fairly upscale, socially conscious, tree-hugging, organic-loving clientele, have more than its fair share of aggressive, self-involved jerks? It’s not just based on my experiences – our local Trader Joe's had to hire a security guard to watch over its parking lot because of the number of altercations between soccer moms and studio production assistants. I couldn’t believe they hired him for that reason – surely it was because someone was caught making off with cases of $2 wine, or they had too many incidents of Fair Trade French Roast being snuck out under coats. But the manager confirmed that they had to bring in the big guns after a series of fist fights that had taken place between the Range Rover and station wagon crowd.

I even witnessed an incident around a year ago where a guy chased a woman into the store because he swore she rammed a shopping cart into his Prius after she thought he had stolen her parking spot (I’m sure he did.) He was quickly surrounded near the organic vine-ripened tomato display by a cluster of cashiers in Hawaiian shirts and escorted out.

And it’s not just at my local store – I’ve heard similar incidents from people in other cities, although one friend insists that the crowd at Whole Foods is even nastier. And I have to admit leaving that store in a boiling rage more than a few times when I had to pay eighty dollars for a single organic potato and a loaf of sprouting rye bread.

In contrast, my local Ralphs supermarket has no such problems. I’ve never been yelled at once in the six years I’ve been going there (although my husband insists it’s because everyone’s too drunk to raise their voice.) Sure, most of the people shopping there are missing half their teeth and are wearing their bathrobes, but I’ve had people save my place in line and even let me get in front of them when I’ve only had a couple of items. I’ve helped old ladies sort out their coupons, and had strangers offer to lift heavy cases of water into my van. Okay, so their selection of organic cheese is marginal at best and I once found a three-months expired pack of cold cuts in the deli section, but I’m telling you these are nice people.

Honestly, I’m beginning to think there’s some sort of connection between excess amounts of soy milk and asshole behavior. Or maybe there’s some link between consuming too few preservatives and a tendency to act like you own the whole fucking planet. Are the people who shop at Trader Joe's so tired and worn down from trying to save the world all day, that by the time they get around to buying their muesli it’s just too much to ask to be civil?

I’d like to collect stories from people who’ve had similar encounters in Trader Joe's, send them to a social anthropologist somewhere and have them do complete scientific study. You’ve heard of Roid Rage, could this be a similar affliction, Soy Rage?

Stay tuned while I get to the bottom of this. In the meantime, I'm taking a crowbar when I go over to Trader Joe's to pick up my free-range chicken, just in case.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

tags: | trader joes parking lot |

Pin It


  1. I don't think it's soy milk, cuz I have that in my cereal and my smoothies and I'm fucking fine, bitch.


  2. omg. You are reading my mind.

    I had some woman in a 'save darfur' t shirt cuss me out in the tj's parking lot a few weeks ago because she said I was taking too long getting out of my parking spot. mind you, I have THREE kids to strap in, and there were tons of other parking spaces available, but she wanted mine because it was right in front of the door.

    I think it's a lack of hormones in their dairy products.

  3. I think there's real truth in this!

    Maybe all the preservatives in the other food has a calming effect....

  4. I have never been to TRADER JOES in my life! WOW are there real people like that???

  5. I have a few Trader Joe stories for you. I have seen some crazy stuff in the parking lot. I nearly beat a chick one for taking the last box of Dark Chocolate Caramels...but that can be explained away easily.

    I so miss Trader Joes. And wine.

  6. So the Dude isn't the only one who goes to Ralph's in his bathrobe?

    I've only had pleasant experiences at the Trader Joe's I shop at in Illinois. Maybe Midwestern hippie-yuppies are calmer than those in CA.

  7. Never been to a Trader Joes, we don't have them where I live.
    You should get government funding to do a study 'Does depriving the masses of preservatives and imitation 'food' cause them to become more animalistic in behavior?'

  8. Could be the hormones? Our TJ parking lot is also a nightmare - you are not alone!

  9. My story wasn't soy rage, just obliviousness - I had to pound the trunk of a car that backed out as I was carrying my poopy 4mo and pushing my stroller with one hand. She didn't quite hit me, but it was more luck than anything else.

    However, the store installed a changing table less than a month after I told them what happened.

  10. Oh, it's got to be the general sense of entitlement. You ought to see the infighting that happens at our local "community owned" co-op.

    But you write it funnier ;o)

  11. I suspect the rich people are confused. They have all this money, yet are still miserable and take it out on random strangers at Trader Joes.

  12. Maybe those unkind people are sipping too much of the cheap wine instead of the soymilk.

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. Let's try that again.

    Most of the Trader Joe's negativity I've experienced has happened in the parking lot, where I once saw a woman in a giant black SUV lay on the horn for a solid thirty seconds because pedestrians dared to cross in front of her. Then she nearly ran down the TJ employee directing traffic to pull into a spot ahead of everyone else in the queue. Her license plate read "RU4RL". Indeed.

    Other than being addressed as "sir" and having eyebrows raised at my wine habit by judgemental employees, once inside everything is usually fine.

    Not so Whole Foods, which we like to call "Asshole Foods." I'll have to check out Ralph's more regularly.

  15. I just had oh so pleasant experiences at TJ's while visiting Santa Monica, but here at home, I'm finding a similar situation at Sam's Club, which is probably to be expected...

  16. It's because Ralph's has no problem razing a forest to put in a big parking lot. TJs parking lots are too small even for my hatchback to feel at ease. People need their space and freak out when it's denied.

    Are you talking about the one on Pico? That parking lot terrifies me.

  17. Trader Joe's parking lots are designed by really bad parking lot designers, that's part of the problem. But I've personally had worse experiences with shoppers at the Costco parking lot that TJ's. Mean, crazy people who would rather park their cars than speak nicely to other humans.

  18. Hilarious as usual SPM. The stress of navigating within the stores with kids in TJs is too much for me. We almost need a traffic cop in our local TJs. It is almost an unspoken rule that you dare not read labels ... you grab and go and keep on down the isle. Don't EVEN think of cutting over from the pasta section to the cereal through the middle. And why is it, people that SEE you are putting kids in the car honk the horn to go faster when it is 100+ degrees in the car? Don't make me chuck my full canvas bag at you.

  19. A little not so well known fact about people these days.......It's all about them. They want the parking sapce and it doesn't matter if you are handicapped, Pregnant, or a what. They are better then you so deserve it more. It's a world of selfish "ME" people. And it's just sickening!!

  20. AGH! I just moved near to a Trader Joe's and I am SO IN LOVE with it. But now I will prepare for battle in the parking lot.

    (I ran out of their greek style yogurt today and I bought four large tubs of it less than a week ago. It is SO GOOD!)

  21. Our TJs parking lot has REALLY skinny spaces. Once an older crunchy looking woman in a Honda hybrid SLAMMED her door into mine as she got out of her car. When I looked over at her, she just yelled at me for having a car that is "too damn big for parking lots." It's a minivan, by the way, which I need to drive all my kids around.

    These stories are kind of shocking.

  22. I blame it on bacon and trans-fat deprivation suffered by people who shop at TJs. I had an old lady turn, snarl and loudly SHUSH my son because he was talking. Not loudly, just asking me if he could choose some cheese. I shushed her back.

    Smelly goatee guy? He's not a person, he's a cartoon. The "I'm so hip I don't need soap" guy with bad manners and even worse hygiene. Probably in an indie band. Sympathies to you.

  23. the other day I was parked right outside of trader joe's. I got daughter #1 buckled in, then went around to get daughter #2 all settled...her TJ's balloon touched the side of the hot car and exploded. of course, tears ensued. but they were already strapped in. so, I'm standing there thinking, the balloons are blown up right inside that door 10 feet away from me...surely someone won't mind running back in and grabbing a balloon for me?

    so, I start scoping out the people coming in and out of the store...I see a older hippie lady talking to a man...she had a nice voice and was all smiley, so I approached and said, "excuse, can you do me a really quick favor?" in the nicest voice I could muster.

    she looks at me with this fake nice look on her face and, with the most condescending voice I've heard in a long while, said, "I'm really sorry, but this is just NOT a good time for me."

    I was shocked. didn't know what to say, so I fumbled out, "oh, my daughter's balloon just popped and she's heartbroken and they're right inside..."

    "yeah, I'm sorry."


    me: "okay, well, then, I'll just..."

    then the man she's talking to steps in and says, "oh, well we can stand by your car if you'd like."

    okay, not my top choice, but whatever. it's going to take me literally THREE seconds to grab this stupid balloon, so I take the offer, run in the store, run out and am back in the car in no time.

    they completely ignored me when I said thank you. AND THEN...after getting the kids squared away, getting in the car, buckling up, turning on the car, and driving away...they are still standing there by my car talking with no signs of leaving anytime soon.

    yeah, she was really busy. yeah, she was a beee-otch. steer clear of the old hippie ladies at TJs, that's all I gotta say.

    phew, I'm glad I got that off my chest. I don't know why it bothered me so much...I think it was the condescension and the lying that really got under my skin. AAAARRRRGGGGHHH!!!


  24. Just curious. Is your Trader Joes in Pacfic Grove, CA? I ask b/c when I lived there, our Trader Joes had a security guard in the parking lot as well b/c the lot was so small people would nearly get in fistfights waiting for spots (or spot stalk each other). I'm just wondering if it's possible that another Trader Joes had to hire a security guard. For the record, though I hated the parking (I was smart enough to park in the neighboring lot and walk over) the staff at my Trader Joes was always super nice. Don't remember running into asshole shoppers anywhere but the parking lot. I live in Orlando now. No Trader Joes in the entire state. I'm very sad about that. I'd put up with the assholes to get my favorite Trader Joes snacks back.

  25. We call their parking lot the demon parking lot! The crazys are always there!

  26. I had to laugh at your story. I certainly have had a few of my own.

    That parking lot is terrible and some of the people are just nuts.

  27. Oh, I hear you! I have this horrible part of me that I keep tucked in deeply inside me and I never let it out. Except...I keep needing it at the Trader Joe's!

  28. Parking lot at my TJ's is insane.. absolutley insane, but then again I can't go without their products. I guess it's a bearable sacrifice!


Related Posts with Thumbnails