Don’t squeeze the peaches

Peaches, unsqueezed

Me, behind the table at the farmers market: “Can I ask you to please stop squeezing the peaches?”

Squeeze. Squeeze.

“Please? You’re killing me here!”

One final squeeze and her hand darted back to her side.

Sigh. There is no “last squeeze” rule that entitles you to one further molestation after the buzzer.

It is just a never-ending battle. And, yes, it might sound petty. But it’s not fair to the farm and it’s not fair to the other customers.

Also, it drives me up a wall.

On Sunday, a woman was thoughtful enough to ask, “Do you mind if I squeeze the peaches?”

We gave her a free peach to squeeze to her heart’s content.

Please, don’t squeeze the peaches.

The other day I asked a woman — very meekly — not to squeeze the peaches. She didn’t let up. So I asked her again.

“Oh! I’m sorry! I thought you said to go ahead and squeeze the peaches!”

Really? You thought I said that?

A few days ago I wrote on one sign: “Please, please, please don’t squeeze the peaches.” I should have saved the ink, for all the good it did.

It feels strange to admonish or scold customers, so sometimes I try to be amusing about it. I’ve told people that if they keep squeezing the peaches, I’ll cry.

They usually stop, if only to look at me.

The thing is, we sort through the peaches before we put them out and, on some days, set aside as many bruised peaches as we offer for sale.

Then before I put the peaches in a customer’s bag, I give them a quick once-over. So we do everything we can not to send people home with bruised peaches. But poking at them and squeezing them doesn’t help the cause. Even if it feels on the firm side, the peach may bear a bruise from your thumb when it softens up.

If you really want to make a good impression at the farmers market this weekend, here are the magic words: “I don’t want to hurt/ squeeze/ undermine your peaches/ apricots/ plums/ sensibilities/ bottom line, so I was wondering if you could tell me if you have any soft/firm ones. [And how long will it be before they’re soft enough to eat?]”

For what it’s worth, most of our peaches are 24–48 hours away from being soft enough to eat. They are ripe, but if we brought them completely soft, we’d never have any unbruised ones to put out for sale.