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Co-op Confessional

You know what I hate? The Park Slope Food Co-op. Sure, it has great organic food at incredibly low prices. But  something about the two-and-three-quarter-hour workshifts, self-righteous squad leaders, "work alerts" and widespread indignation against "the man" pushed me to the dark side. My resulting essay was featured in an anthology called Before the Mortgage (Simon and Schuster). 

It is Halloween. This month I am working at the front door, swiping membership cards. Halfway through the shift, sick of announcing to people that they are on “work alert” for missed shifts, I switch roles with my co-worker, Elga. Now I am head trick-or-treat coordinator, responsible for giving rewards to a costumed parade of pesticide-free children. Other shops, aware of the urban wives’ tale of razor blades being embedded in unwrapped treats, are handing out tootsie rolls and mini-Snickers bars. We are handing out apples. 

A small, androgynous fireman/bear walks up to me and extends its jack-o-lantern bucket. 

            “He’s adorable,” I say to the fireman bear’s mother, just as her child picks my apple out of the bucket and puts it back on the counter.

             “I want chocolate,” it says.

            “We’re not giving out chocolate.”

            “I want chocolate,” s/he repeats.

            “We only have apples.”


            “I don’t understand,” says the mother. “She’s been organic since birth.”