Last night at Trader Joe's

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2005/02/22 22:31 -05:00, original URI:

WARNING: No technical content whatsoever. I am just in a weird mood right now. If you want technical then wait a bit, I am sure something technical will happen soon enough....

I headed over to Trader Joe's last night. Not to shop, mind you. But to pick up my Limonata order. You see, I order it in bulk, usually about ten cases at a time. But I can easily go through a case a week between what I drink at work and what I drink at home, so it does not hang around too long.

On my way in, I saw my cousin's daughter. Well, she is actually my cousin, too. but I first met him and his wife when Maya was just a toddler, so it is hard to adjust to all of that and think of that little Maya who was unable to stand still as the young woman in front of me now. She was the great source of extremely silly questions in a survey I wrote about in Pinnacle's Smart Access about 157 years ago when she was a teenager and I was in Seattle for something or other (pre-Microsoft contracting). Now she is smart and funny and can take on anyone in a verbal spar, not that anyone is sparring at the moment. We just have an interesting family that way. :-) And she is right there with her fiance -- they are getting married this year, in the summer. They are a wonderful couple, they both look great together. I am as amazed as I was the first time I saw them together -- totally in love, etc. And it still seems just as awsome to me.

Anyway, after we say our goodbyes (we should really try to run into each other intentionlly some time!), I head into the store.

They knew exactly who I was, before I even said a word. They remembered from last time. It's the sort of thing that can take months at restaurants yet I am memorable after showing up once every 2- months. I'm sure they laugh about this weird guy with the cane who hobbles in to pick up his Limonata. Its not the sort of thing one forgets. And they do not laugh at me to my face, so if I can make their day then it does not cost me anything other than the price of the ten cases of Italian beverage, and I was going to buy that anyway.

Someone to the back to get the Limonata.

I am standing in the checkout line, it's my turn but the cans are not there yet.  I tell the woman behind me cut in line. She looks at the cane with a litle worry in her eyes and says I should go ahead. I explain that I am waiting for something so she should definitely go ahead. She asks me something or someone and smiles. I say something and smile back. We are not really flirting at this point as far as I can tell, but maybe I just don't remember what that is like (it has been a while). Weird. Ten years ago I would have probably tried to ask for her phone number or something but I guess I have outgrown that (it is amazing how often mature wisdom resembles being simply way too flipping tired!).

Just then, the Limonata shows up and she has to smile again (I feel like everyone up there is smiling at me at that point -- or maybe laughing). She asks if this is for my group (when I look confused she points to my Microsoft cardkey, still on my belt). I explain no, it's for me. But there are worse substances one can be addicted to. This time she laughs, as does the person who is ringing me up, the manager who stands nearby, and the young lady with the handcart and the Limonata.

I pay for the ten cases, kind of catch the eyes of the three employees standing around watching the ten cases and my line colleague and say maybe I'll see them all in 10 weeks when I run out of Limonata again, and with one last smile head out....

On the way out, the young lady who works for Trader Joe's has the ten cases on a handcart. She asks me where I am parked and says she will take them to wherever I need them (she quickly realizes how that sounds, turns red and says she did not mean that like it sounded). I tell her no worries, I did not assume anything inappropriate. I point to my car, parked right in the handicapped space in front of the store. She laughs and says I'm easy, then predictably gets embarrassed again. She puts down the cart and I start to unload it. She tells me I had better not be doing that because she is female, and I assure her it is not. I would just feel weird standing there while someone else loaded up my car for me, like as if they were my personal sherpa or something. She says okay and pulls out the handcart. She is back in the store before I can give her a tip. Damn, I did not think she would be back in the store that fast. Maybe she thought I was unloading it to avoid tipping her -- now I feel guilty. :-(

And then I about to pull out, to head home. And I think about all the people who were by the checkout, smiling that one last time. Or maybe they are just laughing about the Limonata. I know I would be. It is not as eccentric as a Howard Hughes type of thing, but maybe it is in the same ballpark. After seeing The Aviator this last weekend, I guess I am paying attention to that sort of thing.

Maybe it will all happen again soon -- I'll be heading back in a few months, after all, for more Limonata. :-)


So, is this what people do with non-technical blogs? Not sure I could do it every day. I think I will have to stick to technical topics....

# Uwe Keim on 22 Feb 2005 9:05 PM:

Funny read!, although I didn't know what "Limonata" is, I guess some kind of beer...

# Michael Kaplan on 22 Feb 2005 9:39 PM:

Nope, it is actually a lemon soda -- no alcohol at all. :-)

# Larry Osterman on 23 Feb 2005 1:16 PM:

Great story :) I'm glad you decided to syndicate it.

# Michael Kaplan on 23 Feb 2005 3:45 PM:

Heh -- Larry, you are probably one of the only people who even noticed the non-syndicated version of it (I removed it from the site after a short time!).

It was fun (and funny), but I am not sure if I could do it all the time here. Maybe if I were over on LiveJournal or something.... :-)

# Zach Glazer on 24 Feb 2005 7:27 AM:

Personally, I find the non-technical stuff much more fascinating... but then again, thats just me.

Question: Does Trader Joe's give you a discount for buying in bulk? (if they don't, you should talk to the manager, im sure he can give you the hook up)


# Michael Kaplan on 24 Feb 2005 7:42 AM:

Heh heh heh -- not sure the sponsors would approve? :-)

They take care of me, as beast as they can (to do better I would have to take a part time job with them, to get the employee discount!).

# S. Engle on 5 Mar 2005 8:20 PM:

Just wanted to chime in. Caught this blog surfing around.

I work at a TJ's. Here in St. Louis, we don't offer a discount - no matter what the quanity. We keep our prices so low that everything's already discounted for all intents and purposes. I'm serious, we get constant feedback here in St. Louis about how great our prices are and how much lower they are to the other gro stores.

We try to have a fun store and always laugh with the customers and ourselves. It takes the perfect kind of personality to be a great TJ's employee and that should show with any and all interactions you have in the store. It's a different mind set and way of thinking in our workplace environment.

I actually have my degree in Information Systems Marketing but the job offers in St. Louis SUCK and I am happy doing what I do at TJ's and being apart of this company!

Best of Luck.

# mingm on 18 Apr 2005 2:01 AM:

You know the Costco Business Center in Lynnwood carries Limonata for 8.99 a case. They may even deliver it to Microsoft for you too.

# Michael S. Kaplan on 18 Apr 2005 7:04 AM:

Hey mingm, that is interesting. Though I have no Costco membership, so if you divide the $45 membership by the number of cases I would be buying per year, each case is actually going to cost more than that....

I have to admit that it would be cool to get it delivered if I set up a business membership, though. Of course it would mean a rich source of potential blog stories would be gone. :-)

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