Fearful Flyer

I have a love / hate relationship with Trader Joe’s.  While on one hand, I love them- it’s relatively quick to shop there, I always find yummy stuff.  On the other hand, I hate them.  I find that I always spend more than I intended, I feel like some of the products are not as fresh as they could be, and, by far, the biggest issue I have is, it’s a stable of the dysfunctional humans.  I hesitate to call them humans because I’m not, entirely, sure they ARE human.


On my last visit, I was on a mission to get 2 limes.  Because I wanted needed a Cosmopolitan when I arrived home.  I was also looking for Lychee juice… which I did not find.  I had not been to TJ’s in awhile, so I was happy to just browse.

I was tipped off in the parking lot, I saw a man getting out of his car.  Odd?  Well, no, not in and of itself, but he got out of the car while wearing a full-size camping backpack.  I would have thought he was a nomad, had I not seen him leave his vehicle.  I would have thought it was some type of back brace, however, I saw him wrestling with carts in the cart corral.  He was nimble, and he was feisty.  He did not appear to have a back injury.

backpackPack Mule for Hire

The man was wearing a fully-packed camping backpack, complete with a yoga mat and sleeping bag.  And a canteen hanging off the side.  Peculiar to take these items shopping.  Maybe his backpack is one of those “recyclable” grocery bags.  Yeah.  Maybe.  An already jam-packed recycle-able grocery bag.

But wait, there was something I failed to notice before.  The man was wearing hip waders.  He didn’t appear wet.  Nor were we experiencing a flood.  Hmm.  I could think of no other explanation than:  This man is a freak.

Screen Shot 2012-12-13 at 8.58.04 PMSorry, the Internet isn’t teeming with pictures of Sherpas in Hip-Waders, so this will have to do

Moving on.  I don’t dwell on these things.  I am a freak magnet- so, honestly, business as usual.

*Sep 26 - 00:05*

As I entered the store, I see, two packs of foreigners huddling in various areas of the produce section.  A French Pack and a Chinese Pack.  Both packs are speaking among themselves, LOUDLY.

Oh wait, there is the Nomad, with a basket, I guess wrestling with the carts didn’t work out.  Sadly, I didn’t even notice because I was so focused on his costume.  I’m in the store for, roughly, 30 seconds at this point, and his basket is, literally, overflowing with produce.

Yes, he was in the store ahead of me.  But not an hour ahead of me.  He was in the store, maybe, 10 seconds before me.

So he’s a nomadic, fisherman/backpacker, vegetarian/vampire.  Or maybe he’s on the Amazing Race.  I can’t be sure.

Back to the Foreign Diplomats.  The French family is picking through the vegetables and are not happy.

les-miserablesI’m French.  And Miserable

But the Chinese family… they are all laughing at the yogurt.   There is a bountiful selection, and these Chinese LOVE it.

chinese familySay CHEESE

Suddenly, the oldest member of the dynasty blurts out “Cheese! Cheese! Cheese!”  The rest of the crew yell at him in Chinese to “Simmer down.” Or I guess in their language, it would be “现在冷静下来”

trader joes samples

As I stand at the shelf selecting my limes, I see a “demo” happening.  A nice-looking, very well-put together, older lady is doling out Cheese and Crackers. She looks like Paula Deen, only with slightly less “butter.”

paula deenHey Y’all!!!!

I see a TJF (Trader Joe’s Freak) bending her ear.  Well he’s more than bending… her ear is a pretzel. He is educating her about cheese.  Hmmm, maybe he should find that Chinese dude, I hear he is interested in Cheese.  The TJF is one of these dudes who has no ability to regulate the volume of his voice.  Hence, it’s MAX volume, all the time, I’m sure his neighbors love him.

moustache%20dudeHe looked like this dude

I move into the frozen food aisle, nothing too out of the ordinary happening here. Unless you consider a woman stopped dead center of the aisle, talking on her cell phone, while her 3 misbehaving brats use the cart like a jungle gym and beat each other with packages of frozen salmon, out of the ordinary?  I don’t.  I call it Tuesday in Fairfield, Connecticut.

Screen Shot 2012-12-13 at 9.14.58 PM

I attempt to navigate around her and her spawn, all the while, hearing the TJF still torturing poor faux-Paula Deen.

Screen Shot 2012-12-13 at 10.10.39 PMPlease.  Someone.  Help. Me.


I come around the top of the aisle and hear “Cheese! Cheese! Cheese” coming from Little Beijing, currently in the Grains and Cereal aisle.  I proceed down the juice aisle, vaguely looking, but not expecting to find, lychee juice.  I loves me a lychee martini- in fact, by the time I get to the juice aisle, I could use one.  Or seven.

In “Juice,” I see a creature.  She’s, sort of androgynous, vaguely “Pat-ish.”

Screen Shot 2012-12-13 at 9.17.17 PM

 She’s talking loudly, to nobody.  She’s wearing a dark blue satin jacket, she obviously reads Vogue… from 1972.  And the nicest part is, she has, what appears to be, kosher salt, sprinkled all over her shoulders.  And by kosher salt, I mean gargantuan flakes of dandruff.  Ew.  How does one have dandruff, to that degree, and not realize it.   AND wear NAVY?!?!!

Screen Shot 2012-12-13 at 9.17.45 PMShe appears to be properly salted

She’s walking along, scratching her head, making it snow… and I hear her bellow “Well, I assume if you are going to buy 100% Pomegranate Juice you would know what to do with it!!!”  Oh!  She’s a comedian.  She starts to back up.  She is backing up into me, I am about to be hit with a snow squall. Noooooooooooooooooooo.  I pulled some type of limbo/ breakdance / contortionist move and avoid her.  She realizes there is a ruckus behind her, turn and meets my eye and says “What?  Are you drunk or something  Har har har har.”  I normally would be polite and just laugh with her, but I felt compelled or, more accurately, REPELLED, and said “Yeah, I was just to avoid you backing into me.”   She replied “Well, you are right, I have no concept of my body mass.”  Yeah, well, obviously.

I’m in an obstacle course of buffoonery.

“Cheese! Cheese! Cheese!

The TJF is STILL eating cheese and cracker, spitting crumbs all over the dead, bloated body of “Paula Deen,” who has, by now, suffocated herself with a recycle-able canvas bag, y’all.

Screen Shot 2012-12-13 at 8.45.41 PMI’m dead, y’all

I grab some vitamins, Lutein, because clearly, my eyes don’t see normally… I’m almost home-free.


“Cheese! Cheese! Cheese!”  Uh oh. I’m face to face with Chucky Cheese or as they call him in China:  Chucky乳酪 .   At least now, he’s in within acceptable proximity to the cheese section.  I am very, very close to the package of Genoa Salami I am seeking, when a large arm splits the air between me and Mayor McCheese.   Oh my god!  It’s Jabba the Hut, live and in the flesh.

jabba the huttCan you pass the salami?

His rotund arm reaches into the refrigerated case and pulls out 3 large packages of hard salami.  To me, as he was borderline “maximum density,”  the multiple salami purchase warranted no explanation, but Mr. the Hut offered me this “I eat 110 pounds of Salami per year.”  I smiled and said “Consistently?  Every year?  110 pounds?”  Four of his seven chins quivered in confirmation, and Mr. Cheese chimed in with, yup, you guessed it “Cheese! Cheese! Cheese!”


I ran to the checkout, knowing I had to escape soon or become one of them.  I stepped in line behind John Wayne Gacy.

Screen Shot 2012-12-13 at 9.23.31 PM

The cashier undercharged him and he was guffaw-ing “I WISH I could pay THAT price!!!  Then I could give a nice donation to The Church.”

I turned to survey the wreckage.

•       The Nomad, as you would expect, has moved on.  He’s at a Trader Joe’s in Montana by now.

•       French family still in produce, hating everything.

•       “Paula Deen” down!!  TJF has eaten all of her samples and is now gnawing on “Paula Deen’s” heel, which he has covered with a thick layer of organic pimento cheese spread.

•       Pat is creating a Nor’Easter in Bread

•       Jabba perusing the cured meats

•       Cheese! Cheese! Cheese!

I locked eyes with the cashier, I thought I detected “H E L P  M E” being blinked at me in Morse Code.  She finished Mr. Gacy’s transaction, and began mine.  I said to her “There are a LOT of odd people here tonight.”

She replied “What do you mean?”  Oh no… She’s one of them.

stepford wifeCan you give me directions to Stepford?

I was so freaked out that I, completely forgot to pay and they had to stop me on the way out to remind me that Trader Joe’s is NOT a food pantry.

Yep, I become one of them.


I returned to Trader Joe’s today.  My eyes were peeled.  My freak radar had been calibrated.  And… nothing.

I browsed the aisles freely, unencumbered by weirdness, kookery and The French.

Until, I got into the Express Checkout Lane.  I was behind a woman who had 25 items and was yakking on her cell phone the entire time.

Screen Shot 2012-12-13 at 7.14.44 PM

The cashier looked at my basket with FOUR items in it and said “I’m sorry, I’m only taking 10 items or less.”

Does he not know the meaning of the word “less?”  Does he not know how to count to 10?

“Noted.”  I replied.

I felt a hand on my shoulder, I expected it to be, the lovely, Deb DePass Jones, who has been known to accost me in strange places.  It wasn’t. It was Gollum.

Screen Shot 2012-12-13 at 7.08.32 PM

I’m lying.  She looked more like this:

PepperHey Pepper is out of Briarcliff and is a Crew Member at Trader Joe’s!!

She was the rare creature- “Cross-eyed Dwarf Von LadyStache.”  I froze in terror, as “little people” are my undoing (I know, I’m going to hell- tell me something I don’t know.  I’m not proud).

“Come with me,” she beckoned, “If you take a walk with me, you will learn I am a really fast ‘checker-outer.”

I rest my case.  #freakshow


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4 Responses to “Fearful Flyer”

  1. Patti Says:

    What’s wrong with Tony? I was cracking up because I know its true and you probably didn’t even exaggerate.

  2. Jilly Says:

    Hahaha. You should call this story, “Trader Joe’s: Asylum”

  3. Jen at PIWTPITT.com Says:

    This was funny. Do you have a FB or Twitter for your blog that I can follow? Email me if you do. Jen

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