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Trader Joe's "Crew Members": WTF Is Wrong With These People?

Meredith's C-Town post reminded me of the question that would have been burning inside me had I not forgotten it instantly upon exiting Trader Joe's in Cobble Hill: WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THIS PEOPLE?

I want to see the corporate training manual because this over-friendly cool-aid swilling chit chat is just plain wrong. And it seems to be as endemic as those hawaiian shirts. 

As you know, I am a serious infipstigative journalist, and so I made it my business this morning to do a little research. 

That photo above, by the way? On some woman's blog with the following quote: "One of the clerks saw what we were doing and ran over saying, 'Wait, you can't take pictures without a Trader Joe's Guy!'"


I know: I'm a curmudgeon. But, really, I'm not. There's just a fine line between good service and freakish, glass-eyed love-huggishness. 

My favorite of the commentary I found online...

From Chowhound:

"I live in NYC where the clerks are often sullen and won't say thank you (even after the customer says it) so believe me, it's not that I don't appreciate friendly service. I just don't like the "play by play" Howard Cosell "What, ANOTHER bag of frozen blueberries, WOW" kind of commentary, by someone who is ringing up my groceries."

"I consider the perkiness as the price we pay for them not being sullen."

From The Ugly New Yorker:

"Without fail, I’ve always felt like my cashier was hitting on me. Men and women cashiers alike. They are more interested in what I did this weekend than most of the guys I’ve dated in the past year. They engage you in chitchat, they smile at you, they make lingering eye contact. And THEY ALL DO IT."

From ahostagesituation:

I'm just not sure what sort of Walt-Disney-themed corporate training that the cashiers are put through to become so obnoxiously involved with their customers at check-out. I'm all for a smile or two, but these people just take it way too far.

So, what gives? Trader Joe's dissidents, closeted crew members, wherever you are: tell us what you know.

[ed note: In a VERY bizarre twist of fate, I have the following confession to make: I kind of dig the over-the-top friendliness of the TJ folks. Much like the "layering" of my toppings at Forty Carrots frozen yogurt, it makes me feel like they care. Even if they ARE just acting their faces off--Erica].


The Northside Festival: It's On Like Donkey Kong

The 2nd Northside Festival is almost upon us. True this shit is in Billyburg, but it looks like there is a load of good crap goin on there next weekend, June 24-27.

The L Magazine sent along a little cheat sheet for your asses, so take note and party hard:


There'll be shows at practically every single venue in Williamsburg and Greenpoint, with performances from over 250 bands including Titus Andronicus, Les Savy Fav, Liars, ?uestlove, Elvis Perkins in Dearland, and more; plus showcases curated by industry influencers like Consequence of Sound, Brooklyn Vegan, Kanine Records, Baeble Music, Green Owl Records, American Myth Recordings, Duke Street Blog,, and I Rock I Roll. Some bands will also be taking to the streets: we'll be announcing impromptu outdoor performances throughout the festival through @thelmagazine on Twitter (For the complete schedule, go here, or check out our streaming channel Northside Radio).


This will be the inaugural year for film at Northside, and we're showing 5 feature films and over 20 shorts at Williamsburg's brand-new and much-anticipated movie theater, indieScreen. Highlights include a short directed by James Franco ("The Feast of Stephen") and a new feature from Todd Solondz ("Life During Wartime"), plus the Animation Block Party, an annual marathon of animated shorts featuring a Q&A with participants Odd Todd, Lisa LaBracio, Aaron Hughes, Dan Meth and Emily Hubley (For more on the film programming, please go here).


We're teaming up again with the Williamsburg Gallery Association to highlight exhibitions and openings at neighborhood galleries like Momenta Art and Like the Spice Gallery. This year, the shows will focus on local artists and performers (For more on the art programming, please go here).


There will be badge deals aplenty, including specials at Barcade, Nita Nita, Iona, The Gutter and many more bars and restaurants across the neighborhoods. The L is giving away some badges (plus an iPad!) on its site to a few lucky readers. We'll also be offering badges of the Foursquare persuasion: users can unlock the special "Northside" badge by checking into Northside HQ, the brand-new outdoor venue on the Greenpoint Waterfront, or any 3 official Northside venues. (For more info on purchasing badges and individual tickets please go here).


More Proof That Beastly Bite Sucks Ass

I hate them like its my job.

And now this on Brooklynian: "the owner of this store does not care at all about animals."

Not surprised.

(Beastly Bite on 7th Ave BITES via Brooklynian).


The Annual 7th Heaven [Or Hell?] Street Fair

I'm going with hell this year since it is easily 500 degrees in the center of 7th Ave at this very moment, surely an indicator of hades-like conditions.

I'm heading back out now that I've dropped off the beast, who is still panting pitifully to the beat of the keyboard clickety clacking. Had to carry him the last two blocks and he's no lightweight. 

In defense of our street fair, it's getting a lot better, which is to say that the ratio of local or cool stuff is way up from the days when it was only tube sock and sheet set purveyors.

Click to read more ...


C-Town Cashiers: What's The Deal?

I adore Steve's C-Town.  I really do.  I know I shat on it in this post, but once I realized I was racking up $30 weekly Whole Foods purchases for soy milk, bran flakes, and grapes (corporate America blah blah), I swiftly discovered how great C-Town actually is.  Except one detail.  Their cashiers are the nastiest group of people on the earth.  And these folks agree.

I tried to ignore it.  Tried to kill 'em with kindness.  Tried to put myself in their shoes, and acknowledge how much their jobs suck (I have plenty of respect for grocery store employees; tons of my friends did it growing up, and it was my mom's first job, too).  But nothing's worked.  And last night, after a completely stone-silent transaction wherein the cashier did not acknowledge me for a solid minute while she picked at her nails and gossiped with her friend, I'm over it.

Really, ladies, what's the point?  I'm not exactly looking to be treated like a princess, and I'll cut you slack for having a shitty day now and then; lord knows when I worked retail during college, I'd occasionally take out my narcissistic angst on a poor elementary school teacher just trying to buy an iBook.  Look.  I get it.  But like, Jesus fucking Christ.  EVERY TIME.

Do they just hate me or is this a thing for everyone?