I love the little health food store in my town.  I’ve been going there for ten years, maybe longer.  They bake fresh, organic bread on the premises, and they have locally grown produce.  I almost feel as though I’m going to a friend’s house when I visit the store.  So, why would I boycott this establishment?  If you’re reading this, you’re likely a germophobe, so it’s not hard to figure out.

I had a very bad experience at that store about three weeks ago.  I was at the register paying for the goods I had selected, and it was business as usual.  I was pushing buttons on the console  (I would clean my fingers afterwards), and the cashier was bagging my groceries.  When the transaction was complete, she put the receipt in the paper bag.  I noticed something different about the bag as I reached for it, but I dismissed it.  But when I got out to the car with my cart and began unloading, the bag caught my eye once again.  This time I couldn’t ignore it.  There were black marks on the bag.  The reason I dismissed them in the store is that they looked as though they could have been manufacturing defects.  But I leaned in to take a closer look and realized that those weren’t the only marks on the bag.  It also had oil stains!  By that I mean food grease.  The appearance was unmistakable.  Then it got worse, if that’s possible.  Although the top of the paper bag was open, it had crease marks from being previously folded over.  I had been given a used paper bag!

I felt nauseated.  I should have taken the bag back in the store, but I’m typically not confrontational.  And the damage was done.  Putting my groceries in a new bag wouldn’t get the filth off them.  I reluctantly put the bag in my car and drove off.  When I got home, I took the bag inside and unpacked the items onto a towel to sort through them.  Depending on their destination, each item had to be cleaned a certain number of times.  Or in the case of fresh vegetables, no extra cleaning was required, as they would be cleaned anyway before being cooked.  But the majority of the groceries was not fresh produce.  It took much time and effort to get everything to an acceptable state.

Did the store get off scot-free?  I vowed to call the store manager and give him a piece of my mind.  But various activities and responsibilities got in the way.  I kept putting it off.  But I was determined not to go back to the store until I had done it.  So it turned into a boycott of sorts.  I eventually wanted to return to the store to shop, so I had to make the call.  It was uncomfortable, of course, but I said that I would not be able to shop there anymore if I received another dirty bag.  I emphasized that I wanted a new, clean bag every time I came to the store.  The manager was apologetic, but not quite as much as I expected.  They offer reusable bags at the store, so I suppose I won’t get much empathy there.

That being said, I’ve ended the boycott and resumed shopping at the store.  But it’s on probation.

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