Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Ode to Fred Meyer Employees

Now that it’s safe to venture back into stores, I made a very necessary trip to the supermarket. The situation inside our fridge was rather desperate. Supplies had dwindled to a one pound block of sharp cheddar, a few aged heels of bread, a quart of milk, three beers, and about two dozen jars of condiments and salad dressings. And we were almost out of cat food and coffee—the demand for these is extremely inelastic in our household.

I headed over to Fred Meyer on my lunch hour. For those of you who don’t live in Oregon or Washington, Fred Meyer is a grocery store/department store hybrid--think Safeway meets a slightly more upscale Target. Although Freddie’s is owned by corporate ogre Kroger, if the male checker who sometimes wears a skirt, lipstick, and eye shadow is any indicator, the store seems to encourage (or at least tolerate) individuality among its employees. The employees always seem happy to be at work--a far cry from the drones at a place like Walgreen’s or Albertson’s who stand in front of the cash register looking utterly doomed (and who can blame them?).

Since I was trying to get all the shopping done quickly so I could get back to work, I scoped out the checkouts and chose one that had only one person in it—a woman in her late 50s—and a youthful male checker (conventionally attired). The checker immediately struck up a conversation with the woman by asking her if she liked British folk music, specifically, eccentric band-music composer Percy Grainger.

The woman, baffled, replied that she didn’t know much about it and asked him if he was selling Percy Grainger CDs! I found this hilarious. Clearly, it was beyond the woman’s comprehension that a Freddie’s checker could be interested in British folk music for reasons that didn’t involve turning a profit. The checker, slightly miffed, told her that, no, he didn’t have any to sell, but she could find Grainger’s music at any store that sold classical music. He then started reeling off the names of his favorite Grainger works. I could barely wait to jump into the conversation and find out just how this guy came to be such a Percy Grainger evangelist. He just didn’t strike me as having been a high school band nerd—the most likely way to become acquainted with Grainger. I came to loathe Grainger as our band struggled through his very difficult Lincolnshire Posy for Band.

But I was willing to let bygones be bygones and get a fresh perspective on Grainger’s music from this young checker. As he finished up the baffled woman’s order, she took a moment to turn around and broadcast a look to me that very clearly said, “Can you believe this guy? What a wacko!” The checker must have seen her do this, because he didn’t say anything to me--not even the requisite, “Did you find everything you were looking for?” I probably could have had him fired for omitting that--not that I would ever do that. I kept waiting for him to say something Grainger-related, but before I knew it, the last can of cat food was scanned and bagged and it was too late to find out why the man who wrote Room Music Tit-Bits and Kipling Settings so completely captured this young checker's imagination.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

How come they never talk to you when you want to talk and accost you when you just want to get the heck outta there?

Fred Meyer is evil - I can actually waste hours at a time in that store. There is one 3 minutes from my house, and I go there at least once a week.

I wonder if they have a 12 Step Program for Fred Meyer abuse.

8:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


That was me up there.

And So It Goes

8:34 AM  
Blogger Rozanne said...

You may be on to something with that addiction theory. I, too, find myself mysteriously drawn into Freddie's, and I amost always make some kind of impulse buy. It's all part of the evil master plan!

10:19 AM  
Blogger Rusty said...

I had thought after Freddie's acquired QFC (before Kroger bought them all) that maybe QFC would start being worthwhile. I was wrong. I appreciate the fact that Freddie's persists in not making you use some card system to get good deals (although I recall them trying a few years ago)...that's the main thing that keeps me coming back, again and again...

12:26 PM  
Blogger Rozanne said...


I hate that card system at QFC, too. Who needs more crap on their key chain? B, however, loves that card and QFC. To each his or her own.

7:51 PM  
Blogger Betsy said...

My son loves the fact that he has a mini QFC card on his keychain, ironically enough.

Hordes of middle-schoolers invade the QFC after school, you see, and since he's using his own money for treats, usually, he really appreciates the fact that Big K soda is way cheaper if he uses the card!

And he's cool 'cause they'll bundle together their purchases so he can share his discounts with all...!

8:31 PM  

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