Something Rare and Wonderful at Whole Foods

I went to the Whole Foods at Columbus Circle tonight. My nominal task was to get some apple juice for Clark. However while I was there I also got Katherine a Kombucha and some sage sausages for me and Clark (honestly I was just hungry for din din).

After gathering these scant groceries I assessed my options. I could 1) stand in a line that stretched all the way through the cheese section, past the cookies, and into the prepared foods, 2) get in the sushi line (which would give me an excuse to buy some sushi for Katherine, which might make her happy), or 3) get in the coffee line. I opted for the coffee line because it was already after 8pm and Katherine would have probably already had dinner; anyway I always stay up until 2am or so writing on Monday nights, so I figured an 8.30 caffeine infusion would be the best of the three options (also cheaper than random sushi). You see at Whole Foods if you want to avoid the unending lines you can check out at one of the other sections by buying sushi, coffee, clothes, whatever is appropriate.

Anyway I guess most people don’t know you can pay a $2 coffee tax and circumvent a 20 minute line so there was only one person ahead of me in the coffee line. However this “line” of only one person Did. Not. Move. Why? The guy ahead of me was rummaging around in his man-purse, rummaging, rummaging. He did not find whatever he was looking for. “Sorry,” he said, shrugging. He had not found his wallet.

“Not a problem!” said the guys at the counter.


Amazingly, the barista at the coffee counter bought his groceries for him.

I was stunned.

The guy ahead of me in line was maybe more stunned, understandably grateful.

“You don’t have to do that!”

“It’s a little too late for that!” laughed the barista. “You have a nice night now.”

The guy ahead of me in line, teary-eyed, took a moment to creep his head forward and check out the names of the men behind the counter, committing them to memory, saving up for future gratitude.

“I’m in here every day,” he stammered. “I’ll… I’ll…” You can probably finish the sentence he was trying to get out with your own imagination.

I know this post is a grand departure for this blog. But I was just so moved I had to write about it while it was still fresh in my memory. We fixate on every negative emotion in the world, dwell on every tiny mistake, and talk about nothing in our national news but our swiftly crumbling economy. But even in the midst of these collapsing financial times, it looks like there is opportunity for tiny expressions of generosity to our fellow human beings, even in the heart of that busy zoo called New York City.


facebook comments:


#1 messels on 05.18.09 at 6:25 pm

good stories. happy to know there are some really good hearted people out there. thx for sharing!

#2 Amarsir on 05.18.09 at 9:49 pm

Just one of many reasons Whole Foods is demolishing the other supermarkets.

#3 madmanquail on 05.19.09 at 4:48 am

Hah! over here in the UK, behaviour like that would be of mythical rarity. I think americans have much bigger hearts. It’s a plus and a minus. (in the UK, the barista would have saved a couple of bucks, er, pounds 😀 )

#4 Sheldon on 05.20.09 at 7:42 pm

At Target two weeks ago, I watched an obviously down-on-his-luck guy try to steal a sandwich, only to be nabbed by a security guard…who then paid for the sandwich out of his own pocket and sent the guy on his way.

#5 ProdigalT on 05.21.09 at 12:32 pm

Unfortunately, one of the main reasons Whole Foods is demolishing other supermarkets is through its aggressive anti-union activities, like firing people for trying to unionize and opposing the Employee Free Choice Act. But the hero of this story is a lowly employee who would probably do this however evil his employer was, which makes him all the better.

You must log in to post a comment.