My thoughts when I shop at Trader Joe’s, or Why I Might Have An Anger Problem

What a waste of time buying food and cooking is, am I right, other single women living in NYC trying too hard to make every single end meet while advancing rapidly in at least eight industries and maintaining an incredibly hot body and collected presence? And what an even bigger waste of time it is to optimistically buy Brussels sprouts from Whole Foods for $15.99/lb and let them sit in your refrigerator for three months until they rot through the bag and leak into the drawer, right?!

The food at Trader Joe’s is cheap — it’s like, illegal cheap — but I find the store to be an unfortunate clusterfuck of humans and babies trying to differentiate between trail mixes (they’re all the same — nuts and cacao nibs, m&ms or banana chips if you’re feeling naughty) and wondering if they would enjoy these so unusual flavors of yogurt (All of the magazines tell you to buy plain, anyway, and add your own fruit, have you not been listening since 2007?). I consistently leave Trader Joe’s swearing off Trader Joe’s — it’s like the mall, or my parents’ house. Or men. By the time that bearded cashier in a Hawaiian shirt hands me two quarter-full paper bags to schlep home like I’m in a sitcom from 1997, I’m riled up like the head coach of a losing Division I basketball team.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but here’s a bulleted outline of the universal TJs experience:

  • Ok — in and out, in and out, we’ve got an idea of what we want, so let’s, again, in and out, please, do not get distracted by anything because last time I spent about 30 minutes trying to pick out a cereal and that led to an inner philosophical debate over whether a little bit of candy per day is acceptable or not. (It’s not)
  • Whoa. I just got thrust into the bread section without so much as an intro to the store layout and I can’t get to the 100% whole wheat bread for $2.29 that I will only allow myself to eat because some half-bald dude in a black peacoat (It’s 55 degrees out, asshole) is inspecting the sliced loaves like he’s at David Jewelers picking out an engagement ring. They’re sandwiches, dude, not the rest of your life. Neither is marriage, FYI.
  • Alright, just chill, it’s too soon for anger. We have a whole store to go through
  • OMG bananas for 19 cents each is this not —
  • oh ok, lady, step right in front of me, why don’t you, in your walker, did you really need bananas that badly?
  • Whatever, they’re all green anyway and in a week they’ll all get ripe at the same time and I’ll get overwhelmed and mad at myself. Fuck bananas, honestly they’re the least healthy choice for fruit, so.
  • OK this is ridiculous. I feel like Trader Joe’s is like the grocery store simulation in a children’s museum — cute and meaningless.
  • But grocery shopping in a museum with fake food is fun when you’re five and you’re like OMG Mom look I’m buying milk mommy look I’m buying milk! And Mom’s like ha ha ha ok Timmy, what else do we need? Do we need EGGS, Timmy? Do we need bulk lentils, TIMMY?! What will make the most sense with your budget and nutritional needs, TIMMY?! And at the end of the day Timmy gets to go out to late lunch with his playdate and the two moms to their favorite “urban-y” cafe and order chicken nuggets or something off the kids menu and finish it, or not, he doesn’t care because so far it’s just a great day of fun activities and maybe Timmy’s friend PJ will get to come over later.
  • I will never have that again in my life.
  • Isn’t that funny how we used to play house, and school, and shopping, all things that were like, wow, can’t wait to be an adult. Why didn’t we play Money is Tight or You Will Pay For College for 30 Years or Grocery Stores Are Crowded and Stressful No Matter What You Do To Prepare when we were younger?
  • I still feel as though I never learned anything useful in high school, like how to appropriately shop for food.
  • What a BS answer we would get when we would, totally legitimately, ask teachers, “When are we ever going to use this?” And they’d be like PLEASE, do you UNDERSTAND, the importance of the quadratic equation to your well-being as a functioning adult in society!? Now sit down and sing that song we forced you to memorize about irregular verbs in French, a language none of you will ever be fluent in.
  • 5 kiwis for $1!??!
  • Oh wait, the produce section is filled, to the brim, with meal-planning couples — I can tell, they’ve got lists and grocery apps open and I just heard the one guy say to his SO, “But we had turkey burgers last week — can we do a roast chicken or something this week?” to which she rolled her eyes and said, “Sure. That’s fine.” Shots fired!!!!
  • I can’t even make out a clean path to the bags of chopped kale. Is it worth it? The last time I bought kale it rotted in my fridge until I moved out. It might still be there. There was so much moisture.
  • But people say greens are the best thing to eat if you want to be alive and attractive but I’m willing to give that up for a while.
  • Should I get celery? It’s a tasty snack but kind of makes me feel empty.
  • Does celery even have nutritional value (other than the fact that it has “negative calories” which like, yeah, OK, you know what else has “negative calories” ??? Breathing, moving, getting out of bed, 30 minutes of cardio per day.)
  • FYI. My Trader Joe’s used to be a bank, like a very historic bank with stone walls and high ceilings, and remnants of the Guilded Age, so it feels like we’re all shopping for pumpkin-seed crust arugula pizza and herb-salted popcorn bits in a scene from Mary Poppins, especially that part where the bank owner or whatever is like, “Save your tu’ppence, Michael!” and Michael’s like, “FUCK U DUDE! I WANNA FEED THE BIRDS W MY MONEY” and then, actually, if I remember correctly, Michael’s screaming causes other bank customers to demand their money back as well and things kind of spiral out of control.
  • Should I try that here, at Trader Joe’s??! GIVE ME MY SPECULOOS!!!! YEAH HEY HOOT N HOLLERIN RUFF IN TUMBLE GIVE US OUR SPECULOOS U GOD DAM HIPSTERS!
  • idk
  • To tofu, or not to tofu, I feel as though that is my eternal question in life.
  • I read a few times that overconsumption of soy is never a good thing, but I think it was a Jennifer Aniston quote, but I also know tofu is like, plant-based, which Michael Pollan says is great? He says something like, “eat nothing, but when u do, make it a dandelion stem and one piece of barley.”
  • Look at this aisle of frozen foods. I would love, love, LOVE to examine my options for frozen fish, as I love my omega-3s but this woman is, what I can only imagine, planning the rest of her life out (probably just a party) because she’s going back and forth with her manfriend about mini quiche and if she’ll need 75 or 100 and I’m like, bitch can you not see me trying to squeeze into this tiny space to check out the price of this cod?
  • Can you not … can you not see my struggle right now!?
  • I can’t
  • I can’t get in
  • There is no room for me in this space if you could just
  • move
  • Your cart
  • If you could just like
  • Move that
  • Cart
  • THANK YOU FOR FINALLY LOOKING UP AND MOVING YOUR CART BUT IT’S TOO LATE I’M NOT BUYING ANY FISH AND I WILL HUFF IN YOUR FACE AND ROLL MY EYES HEAVILY TO MAKE IT KNOWN YOU RUINED THE PROCESS FOR ME.
  • How dare she
  • Be alive
  • the nerve!
  • I hated her so much.
  • Scoff scoff scoff.
  • I gotta get out of here
  • DID YOU SERIOUSLY JUST BUMP MY HEEL WITH YOUR CART, SIR, WOULD YOU LIKE TO APOLOGIZE? I STOP FOR ONE SECOND TO EXAMINE WASABI-COVERED POTATO CHIPS AND YOU’RE ABOUT TO DO THIS? IS IT MY FAULT THAT THERE ARE SNACKS STACKED ON TOP OF THE FROZEN ITEMS? POOR PLANNING ON JOE’s PART. PERHAPS I WILL WRITE THEM A WELL THOUGHT OUT LETTER.
  • I seriously need to leave now.
  • But there’s one more thing
  • Gorp
  • Gravel
  • Trail mix
  • Whatever you call it i need some i am a woman on the go who now needs to keep snacks in her purse lest she wants to pass out in the middle of a bookstore and frighten the disinterested customers and employees.
  • Which trail mix do we choose? Let’s go with the rawest of the raw trail mix — like I said, we’re doing the healthy thing, no room for cacoa nibs or anything sweeter than raisins.
  • Great.
  • I’m so
  • Fun
  • Can’t wait to gnaw on raw cashews later when I get a lil pang of hunger.
  • Alright I’m getting in line, I don’t even care that I missed about six aisles of quirky snacks, we don’t have time for crispy crunchy ginger chunk cookies or mini cinnamon sugar churros or chili spiced fruit leather or “partially popped popcorn” wtf even is that about?
  • I’m above snacks
  • OMG — this line! This line is the Macy’s Day Parade! I am overwhelmed with perspiration.
  • Should I just leave this cart and run?
  • No, I thought about this inventory of food long and hard, we will wait in this line.
  • But we’re also never coming here again
  • There was one time I tried to get into TJs and there was an actual bouncer who was like, “Sorry miss, we’re at capacity” and I looked at her like she was the spawn of satan and said, “Are you … serious. Right now?” And she said I could wait but I marched off after telling her I’d never shop at Trader Joe’s again.
  • Am i my father?
  • I am my dad.
  • So angry and concerned and stubborn.
  • Sigh.
  • Seriously though, sometimes these lines are insane. I’ve seen customers get on line, and then have their partner continue shopping while they’re waiting in line I’m like COME ON i don’t have a partner to help me that’s cheating
  • OK. One thing I appreciate about Trader Joe’s is lack of impulse purchase options while I wait to check out. I was in Rite Aid this morning and saw candy bars price down at $0.56 and I was like YOU PEOPLE ARE MONSTERS!!!!!! I’ll take a Kit-Kat, a Take 5, one of those weird Reese-s bar things, and 6 bags of M&Ms thank u!
  • My turn! Bitch better make this quick I’m starving and I did not buy any fun snacks for my 25-minute ride home and that makes me angry at myself but mostly at my parents for raising a high-functioning food addict.
  • FUCK PAPER BAGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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