Since last I wrote about my lunchtime issues, I’ve been indulging phases such as the Subway tuna sandwich fixation, which was followed by the similar yet different Quiznos tuna “bullet” obsession, wherein I eat the same thing several days in a row.

Last week, I made a return to the local co-op deli. I first started going there years ago for their vegetarian soups, but lately the soup choices haven’t appealed to me. For a while, I was obsessed with a cold sesame kale dish, which semi-repulses me now. Last week, on two occasions, I had a twice-baked potato, and once had clam chowder. Today I had a mushroom bread pudding and a sampling from the salad bar.

The co-op is nice because it’s fresh food, unprocessed, usually organic, and it’s pretty inexpensive (although I did have a combination of hot entrees add up to an astounding $11 a few weeks ago). What it is not known for is customer service. The checkout people at the deli in particular are suh-low. I frequently get my food and eat it, then go to the front register and pay for my meal there, rather than balance my cup of soup while I wait in a line that wraps around the baked goods display.

I don’t go there expecting efficiency, OK?

So I was amused when a crotchety guy asked the woman behind the counter if someone could get more onions for the salad bar. “You’re completely out of onions.”

She nodded, “Yeah, we’re actually out of onions today.”

He said, “Well, then I’m not getting a salad then. What do I do with this?” handing her the plastic container of plain greens.

“You can’t have a salad without onions,” I told her as she shrugged and served up my plate of bread pudding. I made my way around the onion-less salad bar. I took a bit of caesar salad, dollop of egg salad, some Moroccan garbanzo bean thing…Frequently, you’ll find leftovers from the deli cold stuff in the salad bar, maybe when there’s only a little bit left? Maybe it’s old, whatever. Point is, you don’t expect them always to have the same thing behind the counter, as hot entrees or in the salad bar.

I got in the rather long line (couldn’t eat first because they needed to weigh my self-serve salad), and crotchety guy came back, asking to speak to a manager.

“I asked for more onions, and the woman who was standing here (who was by this point working the register) said you were OUT of onions,” he raged. “Well, I walked over there,” pointing to the produce section. (This is after all, a grocery store.) “How many onions do you want??”

He had a good point. How can they be out of onions if they’re selling onions in the produce section?

Kinda like yesterday when I stopped at the fish stand on the way home from dog class, and they told me they only had one prawn left. As they were frying up my calamari and halibut, I noticed in the fresh fish window (right next to the “from the grill” window), they had plenty of prawns, heads still on.

I didn’t get angry, I don’t expect you to move your fresh prawns to your fried prawns section, and I don’t think the co-op needs to harvest onions from the produce section for the deli. I mean, sure, you’re going to lose the customer who cannot eat a salad without onions. But he could buy himself a damn onion and chop it himself if it’s so important. And he probably wasn’t going to be patient during an interminable wait while the dreadlocks chick took forever to ring up three people in front of him in line, either.

Published by Kari Neumeyer

Writer, editor, dog mom, ovarian cancer survivor

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