I know – you’re probably already confused. Whole Foods is supposed to be a place of serenity where all Earth-loving, crunchy, make-the-world-a-better-place people congregate and bask in each other’s awesomeness because everyone brought cloth shopping bags. They are saving the world, people…one eight-dollar salad at a time.
As much as I mock Whole Foods, it’s probably because I’m just bitter. I really, really want to be part of that cool group of kids at the Whole Foods lunch table. But I may as well be wearing Jordaches when everyone else is wearing Zenas. (Side note: Out of curiosity I just did a Google search on Zena jeans to see if they were still around. Overstock.com had some – but they were out of stock. Ironic, no? But then there were other people who had the nerve to list their old Zena jeans on Etsy for 27 bucks a pop and label them “vintage”. If that actually works then I should have saved all my Coca-Cola rugby shirts and Forenza apparel. I would have made a killing.)
Anyway…back to my outsider status at Whole Foods.
First of all, I live in a small town where the closest Whole Foods is about an 80-minute drive. So already it’s hard to become part of the cool club when I only get there 3-4 times a year. It’s so pathetic that “going to Whole Foods” is a downright exotic excursion; I need to pack a cooler for God’s sake. And if I’m lucky I can also stop at Trader Joe’s and Costco. Make no mistake: this is a big deal to me. I make lists of things I want to do on vacation, and “go to Costco” is one of them. When the biggest store in your town is the Big K, you live for this sh*t.
Obviously I have a lot riding on these Whole Foods visits; there’s a lot of pressure to get the right things and not forget anything. It’s not like I can just “run on over to Whole Foods” after work. No, no…that is for all those lucky folks who happen to live in a major metropolitan area and have the extra disposable income for a ten dollar tube of toothpaste and adorable little cakes decorated with marzipan polka dots. These people don’t realize how good they’ve got it.
So not only am I under pressure to get the right things, but I also need to watch myself… lest I wind up spending like Justin Bieber at an underwear-and-tattoo shop. I can’t tell you the number of times I’d start reaching for that salad in all its adorable pre-packaged goodness with greens and nuts and dried cranberries and turkey…my hand would hover over it like Indiana Jones reaching for a chalice…and then I’d see the price tag, and my hand would snap back like a trainee at a gator petting zoo.
My next problem is the workers. I know they are knowledgeable and friendly and helpful – that’s all good. However they put a serious cramp on my browsing style. If I so much as hesitate for more than 3.2 seconds or change my facial expression to reflect anything that comes remotely close to confusion, the nearest Whole Foods worker will be on me like Slade Smiley to a Real Housewife. I honestly get so tired of telling workers, “No thank you, just looking,” that I end up rushing my entire Whole Foods experience. And I really don’t want to do that, otherwise it’s back to problem #1 (the whole pressure thing) and then it’s just this whole endless cycle.
But that’s not even what stresses me out the most. My biggest problem is this:
Everyone else seems to know what to do.
It’s silly, I know. It’s a grocery store for crying out loud; I should know how to shop. After all, I am pretty much convinced that Target is my Mothership. However, the minute I enter Whole Foods I feel like a cross between an overstimulated toddler at Chuck E. Cheese and my seventh-grade self in front of a cute boy. I am surrounded by so much coolness I just don’t know what to do with myself. I freeze up in the produce before eventually grabbing some overpriced blueberries. But no one else seems to have this problem – everyone else knows exactly what they want! It’s like they have their recipes for the week engrained in their heads, so they just march very purposefully down every aisle and pluck one thing after another. It’s all very “been here, done that, have this whole cool store memorized and the cheese guy knows me by name.” It takes me fifteen minutes alone to pick out my Greek yogurt flavors. I get so tired of answering helpful employees that I just pretend I don’t hear them, and then they get all sad and offended.
I’m going to keep working on my Whole Foods skills, so maybe I too can look like I know what I’m doing in that store. But in the meantime I’m going to keep forgetting my cloth bags. And ankle rolling my Jordaches.