With holiday season comes spending a lot more time in the supermarket. With holiday season and spending a lot more time in the supermarket comes exercising great patience. Patience is what separates us from the animals. Without patience, there is mayhem. But without proper supermarket etiquette, it is hard to have patience. There are signs posted in front of various markets that require proper attire, no dogs allowed, etc. — but why don’t these signs remind people of basic human decency and compassion? If the sign says “10 items or less,” that usually means 10 items or less … and if I am behind you on that line and you have 18 items, I will make a comment. Yes, I am that person.
Last week I had the pleasure and privilege of shopping at Evergreen in Monsey. If you have never been to this haven of kosher items, it is worth it just for the experience. Before we go into the etiquette component, let’s discuss the various food offerings. Let’s take the meat department — the exact same cut of roast can be found for four different prices, depending on which rabbi supervised its kosherness. And all four of those prices are less than what you find in any Bergen County kosher establishment. Now I have been Jewish for a very long time and I have been keeping kosher for just as long and it still amazes me that this is a thing. I am so curious to know why Rabbi X is only $10.49 a pound and Rabbi Y is $12.99 a pound. Is it the length of his beard? The brim of his hat? The number of children he has produced? Who knows? It is one of life’s great mysteries.
Just like cholov yisrael. What is it? While standing on line with my friend, we saw a man purchasing six gallons of cholov yisrael milk, which is much more expensive than milk that is not cholov yisrael. My friend decided that the cows that produce this expensive milk must daven Mincha; I said those cows probably go to the mikvah as well. But since I am such tolerant person, I go with the non-cholov yisrael milk because sometimes a cow is just a cow, and if she misses Mincha, I have to assume that she had a good reason for it.
So we finished buying a whole cartload of stuff, most of which we bought because it was late, we were hungry, it looked good, and it was time to check out. There were hundreds of people on line. And I am not even exaggerating. I think that every person in Monsey was at Evergreen at 10 p.m. Some folks came with their kids, all in matching outfits, not sure why they were still awake. Some husbands were there without their wives, some wives were there without their husbands, and I was pretty much the only person there wearing pants.
The majority of people had at least two carts overflowing with grocery goodies and we were in search of a short line. I happened across a line that had a few people on it, but it was relatively short and there was an unattended shopping cart filled with stuff. But it wasn’t on line, it was off to the side. So I stood on line. Fifteen minutes go by and some woman shows up, dumps a bunch of items on top of the already full cart and pushes the cart in front of me. Seriously??? I channeled Pedro the Plumber’s words to me about my negativity, but this woman just added about another 25 minutes to my stay in Monsey. Just as I was about to express myself to this woman (who, me?) my friend said, “Just let her be…she probably has tough life.” C’mon! Let me yell at her! Let me tell her that she has so much chutzpah and that she needs to go behind me on line because you cannot just leave your cart for 15 minutes…. I am the only one wearing pants in a sea of long black skirts, snoods, and black hats, and maybe if she let me go before her, I would find God and start going to Mincha with the cholov yisrael cows!!
But I listened to my friend, I took a deep breath, and I very kindly said, “You should just know that if my friend was not here, there is no way I would let you go in front of me.” I don’t think Pedro the Plumber would approve, but I tried my best.
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck is writing this column while her adorable sons are lugging mattresses into the sukkah so they can sleep there comfortably. She is totally staying out of that situation….