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Monday
Apr132009

UNDERCOVER: PARK SLOPE FOOD COOP [FIGHT NIGHT]

Yo, we've got ourselves a real-life, ginuine, Park Slope Food Coop spy, and we're pretty fuckin stoked about it. In this brand new ongoing series, FIPS is gonna go deep into the heart of the belly of the most talked about/made fun of/loved/hated/debated Food Coop in the history of the universe. Needless to say, our spy is gonna keep things stealth anon (so as to avoid getting a hit taken out on her and/or having her membership status suspended).

So the lines suck, you have to work there, it can get crowded and disorganized, but honestly the one thing that coop members complain about more than anything, is, well, the infamously self-righteous, self-important, fascist, rule loving, humorless contingent of coopretards.

As promised in my first post, here are the details of an infuriating run-in I had with one of these insufferables.

On the day in question, I showed up for one of my required monthly workshifts. I was a few minutes late, and it seemed that a lot of extra people had showed up that day to make up shifts they'd missed over the holidays. As a result, there seemed to be even less to do than usual. After surveying the scene, the squad leader (yes, that is what they are called--they're sort of like a cross between a sports captain and a gulag overseer) asked, "you want to be a walker?"

A walker is one of those poor souls you see outside on Union Street wearing the hideous reflector vest, Park Slope Coop letters blazing, (similar in dorkiness to wearing a "kick me" sign), and making awkward small talk with whomever has asked for accompaniment to their car or apartment. If you have a bunch of groceries and don't have your cart with you, you can use one of the Coop's carts and someone will take it back for you. It's actually sort of a nice service that the Coop offers, though its made ludicrous by the fact that they make you wear one of those ugly-ass vests.

So on the day the squad leader asked me to be a walker, I hesitated for a moment--not so much because of the vest factor, but because it seemed to be one of the coldest days of winter. Urgh. Attempting to be a team player, I agreed.

Because there were so many extra people on that shift, many of us got stuck with the, "you can be a walker" line, and there was a little crowd of us by the exit huddling for warmth like refugees, and trying to avoid eye contact with whomever wanted us to go outside and walk with them. After I'd made a few strolls, being the hyper-intellectual Park Sloper that I am, I got out my copy of that weeks' New Yorker and started reading as I waited for the next person to force me outside. There were a few others reading, and the unprepared walkers were totally jealous that we had something to stave off the ensuing boredom with.

This is when the fun got started. A shlubby middle-aged man (who obviously hadn't gotten laid in years) approached me wearing a a bunch of keys around his neck (a key necklace, if you will). It was obious this guy was employed by the Coop. So I'm going to go out on a limb and make some generalizations: People who wear large loops of keys around their necks:

1) love to boss people around

2) were probably hall monitors in junior high

3) are assholes

"You know," he said in a tone that was both confrontational and incredibly self-righteous, "You really should not be reading while you wait for people to walk."

The absurdity of his statement sort of hung in the air as all of the other walkers took in what he was saying.

"If you have time to read between walking people outside, you are clearly not doing enough work."

Oh shit, mister. It Is On. Not only was I spending my day off from my high stress, 50-hour-a-week job doing menial labor at the motherfucking Coop, I was doing so in subarctic temperatures WEARING A REFLECTOR VEST IN PUBLIC. Needless to say, not an opportune time to chastise me for not pulling my weight, when there was clearly too many people there working in the first place. I was not about to just take this full frontal Coopretard assault.

"That is ridiculous," I challenged. "What is the big deal if we read while we wait?"

The other walkers looked at me, wide-eyed and surprised that I was challenging him. But no one piped up in agreement. Wimps.

"Well," He said haughtily. "If there are enough of you to be reading while you wait, there are too many people who are walkers."

"What are we supposed to do while we wait, just stand here?"

"Well........ you could be DUSTING," he said as I started to choke on the aroma of his self-importance.

"That doesn't even make any sense. How are we supposed to be out front waiting to walk people if we are dusting while we wait?" I was not going to roll over for this man.

He pondered my challenge for a moment. "Well, I guess what I'm saying is that there are too many walkers. Some of you should be doing something else."

"Well fine, I'll do something else. But, you shouldn't tell people they can't read. That is completely ridiculous. I'll just do another job, but you should let these people read while they wait."

The other walkers didn't seem to register that I was martyring myself for their cause, but I was. I was prepared to take one for the team and go find another job so this guy would lay off his "anti-reading while you wait" witch hunt.

"I think we are saying the same thing here," he said in a phony attempt to make peace. "There are just too many walkers."

No, I thought, we are not saying the same things. I am saying I'll do another job if there are too many walkers, and you are being a stabbingly annoying, accusatory wet blanket about people reading while they wait.

"I'm going to go find the squad leader. and ask HIM what I should do." I was never going to take orders from this guy. Not. EVER. I stormed off, found the squad leader, and reported that I was told I could not be a walker by a very rude man. He looked sympathetic. I relayed the comments about reading. He said, "That's the thing about _____, he can come off as gruff, but his heart is in the right place."

Heart. yeah. that's funny.

I wanted to go back up to the keys-around-his-neck man and tell him that he embodied everything that everyone hates about the Coop, but I restrained myself.

Later during the shift while I was restocking the bulk items, the squad leader came up to me and said, "so it turns out there is actually a rule about not reading while you wait, so he wasn't just making that up."

I wasn't sure which was worse: the fact that this keys-around-his-neck man was so mindblowingly obnoxious to me, or the fact that there was actually a WRITTEN RULE that gave him permission to do so. Either was a terrible indictment of the absurdity of the Coop. I left the workshift bitter.

In the next post, I will get into some of the other ridiculous rules of the motherfucking coop.

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