Monday, September 06, 2004

in praise of whole foods

At Whole Foods, or so I've been told, the employees are instructed to "acknowledge the humanity" of their customers as part of every interaction. Most commonly, for me, this interaction has taken the form of referring to me as "man". That is, the cashiers will often say "Have a good day, man" or "Take it easy, man" or even "Man, you have to turn your card the other way and swipe it, man." I have come to love this.* It annoys me that it's generaly only the male cashiers who call me "man"; the female cashiers, so far as I can tell, consider smiling and being friendly to be sufficient acknowledgment of my humanity. I'm a little disappointed now when I do have a male cashier and he does not refer to me as "man", and was left slightly ruffled and feeling old when a male cashier called me "sir" instead of "man."**

Today, in the produce section at Whole Foods, I turned and accidentally knocked a carton of strawberries with my elbow, sending them spilling onto the floor. My first reaction, of course: Run! But there was a Whole Foods employee standing right there. He raised his hand and smiled affably. "Don't worry," he said. "It's all good. Happens all the time, man."

Before this, I had been skeptical of the phrase "all good", putting it in roughly the same category as "my bad," which, at someone's suggestion, will be added to the despised words/phrases list on my sidebar. But the laid-back and assured way this guy said it, I had an epiphany: at least when said properly, "it's all good" is arguably the most reassuring phrase yet discovered in the English language. I'm going to practice trying to say it the way this guy did and work it into my personal vernacular.

* Note: I've heard that a male relative of a certain blogger works at Whole Foods, but, to my knowledge, I haven't interacted with said relative; if I have, I hope he called me "man."

** I am unsure why it is that the cashiers at Whole Foods so uniformly address me as "man", while the sociology graduate students seem to prefer to address me as "dude" (see example here). As I think about it, the sociology graduate students who call me "dude" pretty much all have their master's degrees, so maybe it is something about getting that diploma that leads to a preference for "dude" over "man."

2 comments:

Goesh said...

I haven't been called a "geezer" yet, but the day is coming. In restaurants waitresses are starting to ask me if I would like things other than what I have ordered - a subtle hint that senility is at the door and they can sense it - geezers don't always know what is best for them -
"would you like some orange juice with those eggs?"
"How about some some fruit to go with that?"
- geezers need extra vitamins ya' know -
"are you sure you don't want a glass of water?"
- it is common knowledge that geezers suffer from constipation and extra water helps -
"be careful, that is very hot"
- geezers have been known to burn themselves up -
-I'm waiting for: " here's a bib for you, compliments of the cleaning crew"

DannyNoonan said...

I like that, at Whole Foods, the express lane says "12 items or fewer" as opposed to "12 items or less." "Fewer" is the correct word when refferring to "items" man.