July 1, 2008
I'm the Executive Director of a regional "Buy Local Campaign," and at the risk of sounding stuck-up I'll admit that I get paid pretty well to do it. But what can I say? I'm good.
I've convinced more than a few Mainers to invest in a share of community supported agriculture and buy their grass seed at the Farmer's Union instead of Home Depot. I'm certainly not a sales person by nature, but I completely believe in the "Buy Local" philosophy, and as such, I've had no reservations about shouting my message from the proverbial rooftops--with an occasional break to peruse the handbags at Target, of course.
Based on my professional profile, I should have know better than to walk into a WalMart--but I needed birthday cupcakes, coat hooks, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse underpants in size 4T, a letter opener, some WD40, and a folding chair. I also happened to be driving by the WalMart on my way to meet Wally the Green Monster. So really now, at four dollars a gallon, what's a girl to do?
As I stepped through the automatic doors, I felt a little bit sick to my stomach. I'm still not sure if it was the sight of an obese man wearing a too-short concert tee, the Dunkin' Donuts employee licking his gloved fingers, or the fact that I was compromising my values--but either way, the nausea was authentic.
As James and I wove through the isles, I had to consciously dismiss my enthusiasm every time I saw a screaming deal. So instead of thinking: 'Whoa! These towels are only three dollars, I'm buying four of them right this minute!' I would think: 'My word, how many minimum wage workers were exploited to produces these low-quality towels?' as I loaded four of them into my cart.
Aisle by aisle my cartload grew taller and wider and generally more voluminous. And with each item added, my disdain for the catch basin of all things redneck faded a little bit more. In fact, by the time I reached the coat hook isle I was feeling pretty good.
As we navigated the wide variety of hangers and hooks, I quickly realized that this aisle was much thinner than the others. And based on the size of my load I was having a hard time keeping it all together. As I slowly and deliberately pushed, I peeked up over the top of my pile and noticed a woman standing in my way.
I politely glanced around my goods and said, "Excuse me, ma'am." She willingly moved, we exchanged quick smiles, and--bless her heart--she complimented my very dirty toddler.
"Well aren't you handsome," she said to James.
To which he replied, "Move out of da way you cwazy owd wady!"
"What was that, sweetie?" she asked, pretending like she hadn't heard him loud and clear the first time.
"I said....MOVE out of DA WAY you CWAZY OWD WADY!!!"
For a three year old boy, I must admit that he enunciated exceptionally well. And as such, the Crazy Old Lady clearly understood James's toddler speak the second time around. How very fabulous!
As of Saturday, I've renewed my commitment to shop locally. Not because of tax theory or economic principles, only because I don't want to lay eyes upon that lady ever, EVER again.