My torrid love affair…. with Heinen’s

I’ve made no attempt to hide my disdain for the welfare system. I can’t speak for the conditions in 49 of the states, but in Ohio it’s reprehensible. I’m sure there are formal statistics somewhere, but I’ll go ahead and spitball and say that 95% of welfare recipients are assholes. Before you get all defensive and start arguing the need for public assistance, let me reassure you that I’m speaking from experience. No… I’ve never been on welfare. In fact, I might as well be a god-damned millionaire in the eyes of the government. I’m a single mom who runs myself ragged 50+ hours a week. If my daughter needed something I couldn’t provide, guess what I’d do?  

Seriously… guess.

I’d work MORE!

WHAAAAT? Is that how shit’s supposed to work?

You’d never know it the first two weeks of the month in urban Cleveland grocery stores that accept food stamps, now known as EBT cards. EBT stands for ‘Electronic Benefit Transfer’ and the funds get automatically loaded onto a swell little debit card every month. How convenient! You don’t even have to get your lazy ass up off the couch. The money just magically appears in exchange for doing absolutely nothing! Ahh… America!

Unfortunately, I’ve been forced to deal with the EBT clientele because my employer does HUGE welfare business, which I often refer to as the ‘first of the month shit show’. It typically lasts for the first 10-15 days of each month and we’ve been known to record as much as $455,000 in EBT sales alone the first week of the month. I can’t even begin to explain to you how exhausting the entire process can be, however, I thought that a comparison might be in order. I recently ventured into a Heinen’s grocery store to pick up a few things during the first week of the month. Ironically, I had spent the entire day at work surrounded by all the items that I needed to purchase. I honestly couldn’t fathom the thought of spending one more minute with the welfare people, so I ran out of the building like it was on fire.

In turns out that Heinen’s is like the Disney World of grocery stores. Immediately upon entering the parking lot I was struck with an overwhelming sense of confusion. Why were there only three handicapped parking spots? For the love of god… why were they ALL available? You see, at my store (we’ll just call it Welfare World from here on out) there are four entire ROWS of handicapped spots. Good luck finding one open. I’m sure more than a few prosthetic leg customers have had to turn around and go home because they couldn’t park within a mile of the building. You see, a welfare shopping trip takes somewhere in the neighborhood of three hours to complete. Spending $800 on groceries takes time and commitment, specifically when $500 of it is from the chip aisle alone. Evidently, fat and lazy now earns you one of those blue wheelchair placards for your rearview mirror.

Upon entering Heinen’s, I was astounded to see two seemingly brand new motorized carts parked in the entrance way. They didn’t have twinkie filling smeared all over them or dried up Faygo running down the side. Breaking my foot again all of a sudden doesn’t sound half bad. Those carts aren’t just for morbidly obese people? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a set of crutches in the basket of one of our dozen fat carts at WW. There’s typically an informal waiting list five deep at the front door. We wouldn’t want anyone burning any unnecessary calories on our watch.

As I approached the produce department at Heinen’s, one thing was glaringly obvious. There were people in it! At WW, there’s some sort of force field around that section. It’s as if carrots are kryptonite in this dimension. Every once in a while you’ll find an apple with a bite out of it thrown on the floor. My guess is that someone thought it was candy and lost interest when their arteries didn’t immediately start clogging up. At Heinen’s, I’m fairly certain that they have an associate with the sole responsibility of shining apples and lining them up perfectly. The red delicious wall o’ apples is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.  I asked permission before I selected my delicious red apples. Apple shiner was so pleasant that I almost thought he was kidding. He made small talk and tied up my plastic bag like it was the best thing he’s ever had the privilege to do.

Last weekend at WW, there was a Puerto Rican girl gang fight in the chip aisle. I can only guess that it was related to the age old argument ; Cheeto puffs or old school regular Cheetos. I never did find out the result, but I had the pleasure of collecting pieces of hair weaves off the floor while the children of the gang members watched. I’m not even sure there is a chip aisle at Heinen’s. There might be a Baked Lays endcap, but I can’t be certain.

The conversation at Heinen’s is much different as well. I overheard two soccer moms talking about a 5K they were running and another woman drumming up support for her husband who is running for Congress. Hmm… nobody in here is running from the police? Why hasn’t anyone called me a ‘cracker bitch’? Apparently, I was somehow to blame for that woman running into me with her flatbed full of Funyons because she was too busy talking on her Bluetooth headset to notice I was alive. I can only hope I’m a graham cracker. Those are delicious… plus, I’ve been tanning.

I still felt like this place was too good to be true. Where was the piece of birthday cake that obviously belongs on the floor under the wheel of my cart? Why weren’t people yelling across the store at each other about which TGI Fridays appetizers to get? Nobody’s kid had vomited on the floor and left it there as far as I could tell. I still wasn’t buying it, so I ventured into the restroom. You’re going to think I’m lying when I tell you this… There was NO poop on the walls or dirty underwear stuffed in the toilet in a dismal attempt to flush them down. Not one person was in there eating Pringles while completing a drug deal. I’m not kidding! Wait… what’s that? That stuff isn’t normal civilized behavior?

Next time someone asks me out on a date, I’m going to suggest we hang out at Heinen’s . That’s how much I like it. I have absolutely no problem paying $1 per raspberry if it means that I’m in a place where people are oblivious that it’s the first of the month. Besides, I’m sure my friend the apple shiner will be excited to see me.

P.S. I love you, Heinen’s.


3 Responses to “My torrid love affair…. with Heinen’s”

  1. May 19, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    Hi Jen, I think you’re a fantastic writer! If you’re interested in reviewing concerts or interviewing big name bands (free tickets and access!) please contact me at joel dot voorman at cleverock dot com. I look forward to hearing from you! – JV

  2. 2 Jason
    May 23, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Jen! This is a wonderful love story. I too enjoy shopping at Heinen’s and its not very often I get to do it. However, the next time i’m free, how about we grab some coffee at Heinen’s :-). Keep Rockin Jen!

  3. 3 Stephanie
    August 4, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    I just started reading your blog today. First off, you’re a terrific writer. Secondly, I work in a very similar establishment as you, and can I just say you painted that picture to perfection.

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About the Broad

A humorous look at dating in your mid-thirties and the other hilarious things that happen around us on a daily basis.

May 2012
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