I love Trader Joe's. I mean, I love it. There's no other place where I can simultaneously shop for healthy-eating days (lactose-free skim milk, precut beets, 99% fat-free Trader Jose's bean burritos) and bingey ones (cheese puffs I eat one giant bag at a time, chocolate-covered raisins I eat one plastic container at a time, mochi ice cream I eat one box at a time—you get the idea). The cheerful Hawaiian-shirt clad staffers who eagerly duck into the back to find out if there's any more Spindrift cucumber seltzer, free samples and coffee, and the fact that I can enter a raffle like I'm at a goddamn carnival just because I remembered to bring my recyclable bags make it one of the most pleasant-places on earth.
Something happens on the inside. For some reason, inside this utopia of reasonably priced foods and überorganized lines (it really does move fast, you guys!), something happens to people. Otherwise kind people. Generous people. People who want to feed their kids nutritious snacks and help the environment one hemp-based shopping bag at a time. People turn into assholes. Colossal ones. It's like out there is the real world and inside is the Upside Down and it looks like the regular world but it's not and everything is terrible and I STILL CAN'T FIND BARB.
My local TJ's is the one in Cobble Hill. It's a nice one. High ceilings, two bathrooms. If there were ever a place to be aggro in this world it is not here, and yet, aggro people are. (Sorry, got Yoda-y for a second.) Just the other day I was minding my own, trying to find the Babybels so I could shove six of them in my mouth at a time. I'd POLITELY scooched my cart to the side so as not to get in anyone's way when this RHYMES WITH WITCH came careening down the aisle like she owned it. She banged right into me, and when I looked up—smiling, because I figured, Hey, honest mistake. We're all friends here, we're all Trader Joe's people—she just kept right on going. I think she may have even rolled her eyes.
And she is not alone. Oh no, if only. Screaming, wild children running around while their parents are three aisles away, poring over the cous cous for ten straight minutes when all you want to do is grab a box of cous cous and be on your merry cous cous–eating way? Madcap cart steerers who cut you off like they're on an LA freeway and show zero remorse? Ubiquitous.
You guys, WHY??? Trader Joe's is the best. Like, on a Friday night or super early on a weekend, before those dastardly "The end of the line" placards come out and there is NO LINE, it is a claustrophobe's paradise. You can twirl around in the aisles like you're in The Sound of Music and do donuts with your cart. It is pleasant. It is fun. But then, the people come. Oh god, they always come. And once they're inside it's Lord of the Flies and you're Piggy and you are not going to get out alive.
Here's what I propose. Next time you see a parent with two screeching hellions attached to his legs while he just tries to grab a $12 orchid? Give him the right of way. When a petite person needs help reaching the Cookie Butter, why not grab it for her? (Extra karmic points if it's the last jar and you don't just swipe it for yourself.) When you see someone struggling with their bags and their cart's wheels have locked because they tried to take it outside (how do they do that???), why not help them carry something. We can do better. Let's do it for each other. Let's do it for Joe himself.