I’m boycotting the Food Emporium on my corner.
You can’t see the stains and rips on the paper tablecloth in the photo above, or the clearly spoiled egg salad sandwich that guy in the background snapped up for half off. (Or more!!!!!) But still, it pretty much captures the level of professionalism there.
The manager is a slovenly lummox with big, yellow, scummy teeth who used to be cashier. Every day, he wore a stained, beige T-shirt with logos of Harra’s, Caesars, Trump Taj Mahal and other Atlantic City casinos. He claimed to have a timeshare there.
“With the money we make at the tables, the condo will pretty much pay for itself.”
His line was always the slowest, because he was so busy bragging on his real estate and commenting on peoples’ groceries. “Hey, you must like carrots. Didn’t you buy carrots one time before?”
But his line was the only line.
Five registers, and they’d have just one open, manned by the village idiot.
These days, that guy dresses to impress, in a stained, white button-down, with a MANAGER tag. He’s moved up in the world, and now stands by the door reading the paper. Not the actual newspaper, but the coupon inserts inside it. He reads coupons.
But enough about him.
Here’s the real reason I’m boycotting:
It’s because of the humiliating spill I took when I slipped in a puddle at the only open register. Boom. Right on my ass. True, someone had thoughtfully put a yellow “caution” sign by the spill. But no one had thought to wipe up the spill, or open a different register.
I always look for someone else to blame when I slip, and for once, I had just cause.
Plus, nobody — I mean NOBODY — thought to ask if I was OK, or apologize for the slippery booby trap. Cashier lady flipped through her Life & Style magazine, and Scum Teeth thumbed through his coupons. Didn’t even look up.
I decided never to go in there again.
One might see this as a lesson in the importance of customer service, attention to detail, and running things well:
If you don’t do a good job, customers go away.
I’m sorry, did I say I was boycotting?
What I meant was, I’m trying to boycott. It’s more like a fauxcott. A semicott. Because I’m the world’s worst boycotter.
Always have been.
Day one: “I’m never going into Golden Sound Electronics again! They’re reprehensible!” Day three: “Shoot, I need new headphones for the gym. Think Golden Sound’s still open?”
Day one: “Boo California grapes! They’re bad to their migrant workers.” Day three: “Mmmm, grapes.”
With Food Emporium, there’s no excuse. Not two blocks down, there’s Jefferson Market (really a Gristedes), where they keep things nice, have several registers open, and put out samples. Samples!
But Jefferson Market is discreet on the outside. Doesn’t scream “supermarket.” I walk right past and never remember we’re out of milk till I get to my corner and see that big, ugly Food Emporium sign.
I’m way more lazy than I am principled.
So instead of going the extra block and a half, I choose pathetic but convenient Food Emporium.
Now that I think about it, when I was a kid, my parents called the Red Apple Supermarket on our corner “Rotten Apple.” Everything we bought there was curdled, soured, or infested. Once, I opened a packet of Swiss Miss instant cocoa, and it had maggots. But again, the store was on our corner. And that’s where we went.
I think the sad lesson here is this:
You’d better do things right if you have competition. But as long as you have a corner location, good signage, weak-willed customers, and zero pride, you’re all set. Go ahead and let your business go to shit.