Sunday, May 01, 2011

Thank you, Giant Eagle for your previous service.

I have woken up. Convenience no longer feels convenient to me. For more than 20 years, I over-looked your obvious racial profiling in your stores. Shakespeare Street store is close and easy. When I want something more “upscale,” I go to Waterworks or Shadyside. I spend our Earth’s precious fuel driving around to feed your idea of what the market demands.

I won’t be doing that anymore. For a long time, I considered myself an activist. I was quite forgiving because you gave me “fuel-perks.” I could jump from store to store. The gas prices, thanks to your program, didn’t make it prohibitive to me. Then, Whole Foods made you remember that organic and sustainable food is important. (But, only to certain demographics.) I am ashamed of myself for buying into your marketing strategy. It lulled me into a dreamy wonderland.

I felt generous enough to forgive your obvious race and classism because you are a local company. Your foundation does good things in our community. But, I have had enough. I am Black. I am female. We are living Martin Luther King, Jr’s dream. And my family is intelligent enough to see through your duplicity. And in order for MLK’s dream to become a reality, I must object to your corporate marketing silliness.

Considering the recent, coordinated, calculated attacks on workers, farmers, and those who are not in the top 1% of America wealth, I can not in good conscience shop at your stores. You patronize us. You belittle us. You do a great dazzle-bedazzle magician’s act. You pat us on the head with incentives. We blink our eyes and stay asleep.<

I am awake now. And I will not excuse you any longer.

Five times, I have tried to get the Shakespeare Street store to sell me a case of Horizon Organic Chocolate Milk boxes. The fourth time, I even abandoned my entire cart full of groceries and announced, “Well, I’ll just get it from Whole Foods.” Then, I tried a fifth time. No change. Shakespeare Street Giant Eagle wants “it’s demographic group” to think organic is low quality or too expensive. The Shakespeare Street workers understand fully that their “demographic group” are unimportant. There is no need to “serve” us, after all, we are all servants. But, at Shadyside or Waterworks Giant Eagle, I am treated better than HRM Elizabeth of England.

My son sampled a cake at Shakespeare Street three days before his birthday and pronounced it to be “his perfect birthday cake.” He even announces that is is better than the “regular cake” (Whole Foods Vegan Chocolate Cake) we always buy. At Waterworks, the day before the party, I am informed, “we don’t sell that cake here.”

So, I high tail it back to the other store and buy the last 1/2 cake for his party. I check in the morning of the party to purchase his “perfect birthday cake.” I get a sullen, “we might have it by 2:00.” (I only get this sullen response because I keep standing there pressing for information for over 15 minutes.) I have a party to make happen in 3 hours, but she can’t be bothered. I mean, who am I? A Shakespeare Street customer...nobody important. But, if I’d been at Waterworks or Shadyside, they’d unwrap and let me taste the product, improve my party ideas and direct me towards more product I wouldn’t have ever considered purchasing. Are we not past the time when class determines level of service? Maybe at a Farmer’s Market....or a local farm. Certainly not in your stores. But, I digress

Party starts at 2:00. So I call a friend and beg a favor. “We’ll hold the Treasure Hunt, if on your way here you can pick up the “perfect birthday cake.) The party started. We held the Treasure Hunt. I get a call. “The Perfect Birthday Cake” isn’t here...should we get something else?” No. No. No. No good company has a taste test and then does not deliver product. That’s the kind of bad business that makes me say enough is enough.

And all of my forgiveness for you as a company drained away in that minute.

Thank you for helping me remember that I may have to pay a little more...but from this day forth, I know the farmers from whom I will buying food. I don’t know you. (The only exception being...perhaps... a handshake at the Elsie Hillman Awards.)

Thank you for reminding me that I am a member of a local food co-op. Thank you for helping me remember that I need to get busy in the garden. Thank you for helping me remember that convenience cripples workers. Thank you for bringing me and my family closer to the selves we wish to actualize.