Adventures in Produce
I don’t know what it is about fruits and vegetables that brings out the weird side of people, but in my job as a produce clerk I’ve seen and heard quite a few wacky and unexpected things. Below are a few of my favorite little encounters from the past few months.
1. Jalapeno Lady. One night, while I was doing a Country of Origin check on the peppers, a lady walked up and started staring at our assortment of hot peppers like someone had scrawled a secret message on the serranos in Greek and she was trying desperately to comprehend it. “Can I help you find anything?” I asked cheerfully. “Yes,” she replied. “Which ones are the jalapenos?” I pointed to the bin of jalapenos. “Those ones right there, ma’am.” She reached out tentatively, then drew back and asked, “So… are they hot to the touch?” It took all of my willpower in that moment not to tell her that, yes, jalapenos are hot to the touch and she ought to use special jalapeno-proof tongs and receptacles lest she burn herself or damage her other purchases. Instead I just stifled a chuckle and said, “No, ma’am. They’re just spicy.”
2. Ginger Kid. No, no, I’m not talking about a redhead. I’m talking about a little girl who was riding in the cart while her mom shopped. The mom selected two ginger roots from the wet rack and set them in the cart, and when she turned to look at the other herbs her daughter grabbed the roots and held them up to either side of her head like antlers. She just sat there like that looking around and grinning until her mom told her to put them down. Aside from the kid who hugged me because he was so glad that I helped his mom find dried pineapple, that’s probably the cutest thing I’ve seen at work.
3. Habanero Man. This is without a doubt the most bizarre experience I’ve had at work yet. I was standing at the desk in the back room when a deli employee came back and said, “Hey, I’ve got a customer who has a question for you.” As if on cue, a bearded man in a rumpled plaid felt coat walked into the back room and stood by the door looking placidly around. I strode over and asked, “How can I help you?” “I’m looking for habaneros,” he told me. That would have been enough information for me to help him out, but he didn’t stop there. “I need ‘em for my medical marijuana,” he informed me matter-of-factly. “Keeps the mites out.” I just stood there for a moment trying to process why on earth this random plaid-coated man decided to tell me all about his medical marijuana mite problem, then I recovered enough to let him know that we were out of habaneros. “Oh, well could you call the Rockford store and see if they have any?” Another baffled pause followed on my part, then I said, “Sir, we’re in the Rockford store.” “Oh, right. Well the other one, up there on 17 Mile.” “Cedar Springs?” “Yeah, see if they have any.” I called them. They were busy. To this day I don’t know if he ever got the habaneros that he needed to stave off the dreaded marijuana mite infestation. Just one of life’s great mysteries, I guess.