Sunday, February 6, 2011

I finally joined the Park Slope Food Coop; Episode 1

I have lived around the Park Slope Food Coop for 23 years.  Hundreds of people told me I should join, a few weeks ago I finally did.

Today I will list why I did not join the Coop since 1988.

  • Some time back in the late '80s I walked in the front door and they yelled at me.
  • They don't accept coupons, I like using coupons.
  • They don't have sales, I like buying the brand on sale.
  • Maybe I just wanna buy groceries and not be involved in a "community building experience".
  • I need plastic bags, that is what I put my trash in.
  • I don't want to be judged by the food I buy.
  • But mainly, I would feel guilty about shoplifting there.  Not really.  Really.  No, not really.  Yea, really.
  • But really, I always get elevated to management if all the organizations I get involved with.  I was not ready for another leadership position.

So, OK, for reasons I will get into later.  I decided to join.

Do they make it easy? No.  They Don't want me.  Here is the hoop I have to jump through.  I have to make an appointment to attend an orientation.  I can't just sign up.  I have to sign up on line on a Tuesday or Thursday between 3 and 4 pm.  That is nice, but I can not be in front of a computer on a Tuesday or Thursday between 3 and 4 pm.  I have kids that I pick up at school.  Not just my kids but on Tuesdays and Thursdays I pick up a total of 5 kids and bring them to their track workouts.

So at 2:30 on a Tuesday I take a big breath and  walk into the Coop.  I ask the person at the door how I can make an appointment to schedule and orientation.  I get the autoresponce that I have since gotten used to.  "I don't know, I am just here for 2 hours and 45 minutes every 4 weeks and I only do this, you have to ask someone in the office". I was OK with that.

I went up to the office and the receptionist said "I don't know, I am just here for 2 hours and 45 minutes every 4 weeks and I only do this, you have to ask someone in the office".  Yea, that is why I am here.

I am allowed to enter the inner sanctum of the Coop, The Office.  Hello I am here. Everyone is so excited to be doing their 2 hours and 45 minutes worth of work, nobody looks up and says "Can I help you?".  Because that is not their job.  So I let out a big loud fart.  Nobody notices, this is the Park Slope Food Coop, they live on beans and cabbage.  But I am a meat eater and they recognise the stench of a visitor in distress.

The nearest vegan looks up and smiles at me.  I tell him I want to join.  He tells me to go on line between 3 and 4pm on a Tuesday or Thursday and sign up for an orientation.  I explain that every Tuesday between 3 and 4 pm I am supervising 5 10 year-old kids.  I can't go online.  "Fine", he says, "call me at 3pm, and I will do it for you."  He hand me a card with a phone number.

Like this is easier.  This 25 year old genius thinks it is easier to talk on a cell phone while supervising 5 10 year old kids who just got out of school.  I can't wait till he trades in his rescue dog for real children.

So at 3:01 pm I call the number and guess what?  His shift is over and the next 25 year old who answers the phone tell me to go online and registrar.  COME ON it is 10 degrees and I am standing behind a school with a billion kids pulling on my coat.  But all she really needs is my name and phone number.  She did call me back and tell me that I am scheduled for the next orientation.  That will be Episode 2.  Orientation. Hazing.


    By the way, the coop does accept coupons, and, for the last few years, even sells meat.

  2. I know, I bought chopped beef there yesterday. The member that check me out would not touch the package.


    coupons. Wow, maybe they will start taking credit cards too.

  3. I've been tempted to join, just so that I could make them walk me all the way home. Hehehehehehe.

  4. Ah, the Park Slope Food Coop.

    I love the part during the orientation where they ask each person to explain BRIEFLY why they are joining, and EVERY SINGLE ONE launches into an hours-long history of their personal struggle with food politics. Snore.

    Wait until you have worked a shift or two. If they don't screw up your info and claim you didn't work even though you did and they suspend you, the characters you work with will drive you crazy. I don't mind characters, but I do mind assholes with ginormous chips on their shoulders who grill me about how I live and what I do and don't eat to determine whether or not I'm good enough to work alongside them. If you think some of the track club characters you have dealt with are over the top, just wait.

    And then there is actually trying to buy groceries. Prices are great, and you will be happy with your produce, but many staples are constantly sold out. And make sure you go first thing when they open, or be prepared to stand in line for about a half hour just to check out.

    I only lasted two months. I'm not urban hippy-ish enough to have the patience for acting out a twisted human version of "Animal Farm", even if it is just once or twice a month. Although in the Coop version of utopia, people disappear because they get frustrated and quit the Coop, not because they have been offed. At least that I know of.

    Wait until they find out that you are married - you or your spouse will be required to work a second shift monthly. Wait until they find out you are blogging about them - they might have a meeting and kick you out.

    No matter what, it's great material for your blog, and I will enjoy reading it. Go to one of the coop quarterly meetings, if you can stand it - just reading the minutes from one of those things - they are HILARIOUS. I'd say the public is long overdue for a food coop mockumentary, wouldn't you? :)

  5. Nosy, I will get to the orientation in a few days. That was crazy.

  6. Eagerly awaiting future co-op posts...

  7. Episode 2


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