Chelsea Green Publishing

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“I would like to file a complaint. I’m being discriminated against.” As an urban grocery store worker — unless you work in one of those neighborhoods so fancy they might as well have gates — you develop a tough skin. Now, I’ve written about retail workers as the new social service agents before, and to me this adds to that point. For our own protection, we have to sniff out the bullshitters right away. At a co-op conference years ago, we once dismayed some fellow cooperators by our attitude. During a presentation, a co-op grocery worker from a small college town started crying while re-telling a story about a crazy customer who asked them (repeatedly and somewhat threateningly), “Do you have to be a lesbian to shop here?” The Rainbow workers in attendance started laughing. She tried to turn the tables, asking, “What would you have done?” The response, pretty much in unison, “Kick him the fuck out of the store!” Because – in this day and age of underfunded safety nets and general despair – that kind of random abuse is a common occurrence at places, especially where odd-looking people are not kicked out right away. We are a store that is a beacon for the odd, so we get more than our fair share. Our freak flag still flies even if a lot more classes of people want natural foods than did in 1975. Abusive customers are common enough that over a decade ago we voted to give the power, on a shift basis, to one worker in the store at all times. A permanent ban needs to go to an elected committee, but our Front End Coordinator has the power to kick someone out for the day: immediately and with no appeal. True, this is partly because it’s really awkward to try and hold a vote on such things while trying to run a store. Someone always used to pipe in with, “She’s just off her meds,” or “He’s a Nam vet, you have to cut him some slack.” But it was a common enough problem, that we had to give someone what is – for us – almost unheard of power. So anyways, I was still putting on my apron last Saturday. I had just walked in the door and the counter was crazy. Right away I saw trouble. Now, being a drug addict and a shopper at our store is, generally speaking, just fine. Some people can manage these things and lord knows many habitual drug users could use vitamin supplements and fresh food. But when someone gets right up in your face, has little bleeding wounds from over-scratching, is holding half eaten food, and is being followed by two of your co-workers (one of whom is the aforementioned Front End Coordinator), the benefit of the doubt is not with them. “I would like to file a complaint. I’m being discriminated against.” Let’s also note, for the record, that this is a white woman being pursued by my co-workers who are Black and Latina. “Well then, maybe you better leave,” I said. Flustered and twitchy she hurried away without another word. A minute later, when I thought of it, I wished I had added, “Being a junkie thief is not a protected class!” I will try and remember to use that next time. Later I found out she had a novel way of drawing our collective ire. Instead of just eating out of the bulk bins or off the produce shelves like a normal junkie, she was actually taking food out of other people’s carts and eating it! It’s true, we do discriminate against that. Read the original article on Gordonzola’s blog.
cheesemonger Gordon Edgar is the author of Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge.

Great Cheeses from ACS 2012: Part 1

I am only mentioning cheeses that are new to me here because – as anyone there can attest – there were too many awesome cheeses for one person to blog about. My versions of these from past years are still pretty much valid, so check those out as well if you want. Here is a […] Read More..

American Cheese Society 2012: Judging

Whenever I get a chance to be a cheese judge at the American Cheese Society Conference, I grab it. I really do love it. I am honored to be asked – and that is part of it – but I love it mostly because it is pure cheese: just me, my mouth, and 1771 anonymous […] Read More..

Gordonzola’s Humble Suggestions for Getting the Most out of the Cheese Conference

I’ve lost track of how many ACS conferences I have attended. I pretty sure I have attended every one not on the East Coast since 1999. Almost universally, they have been awesome experiences that have taught me innumerable things about cheese and introduced me to people I otherwise might never have met. Back when I […] Read More..

New facebook page

I started a new facebook page because during vacation it dawned on me that I really wish I hadn’t given the “Cheesemonger” facebook page the name of my book. For one reason, it’ll be confusing when my next book comes out. For another, it’s embarrassing commenting on other people’s facebooks as “Cheesemonger: A Life on […] Read More..

When Cheese Goes Bad

There are times of the year I associate with bad cheese. Usually it is after a holiday, when a distributor has bought too much of something perishable that didn’t sell. Buyers are alerted to these deals with flyers titled things like “Hot Sheet”, “Killer Deals”, and “Margin Builders.” This is definitely risky buying for the […] Read More..