Sunday, February 6, 2011


At first glance, it’s just another US supermarket: a large, flat building, with a purple and vermillion sign, shopping carts parked in front, automatically opening doors, metal detectors, some electronic self- checkout stations and some speedy, human cashiers. 

There are the usual piles of shiny fruit and vegetables, automatically sprayed every ten minutes, the familiar, brightly-lit shelves of stuff and counters of fish, meat, bread and pizzas and other fast food to go.
But my supermarket has something more.
It has a heart.
More precisely, the manager has a heart.

You can see signs of this, if you look carefully.  There are the tables of almost-free books: one dollar for a paper-back and two dollars for a hard cover.  These books cover the gamut from trash to text books and are all donated and bought by neighborhood shoppers.  The proceeds go to charity.

The vegetable stackers in the produce section always say Good Morning and ask if they can help you find something.  Even if you’re striding along purposefully or already selecting a potato, they still ask if they can help you find something. They all say it in the same way, so you know they’ve been told to do it.

There’s also a pharmacy in one corner and, tucked away, between the pharmacy and the unisex toilets, is an area with chairs for those waiting for prescriptions to be filled. Early in the morning gaunt, haunted homeless people can be seen sitting gratefully in those chairs, clutching a warm cup, munching a stale sandwich generously donated by the kindhearted manager, making use of the toilets and wash basins to clean up a bit, keep warm and feel human for a while.

Most places in Los Angeles chase homeless people away with alacrity.  Poverty is not tolerated here and is considered a shameful thing, worse than leprosy. Poverty isn’t shameful, it’s just a fact of life. Especially these days.



paris parfait said...

Hoping more store managers read this and are inspired to follow suit.

Nora Lumiere said...

Hope so.

Dana said...

Ahh! Some good news! Thanks.

Nora Lumiere said...

Bad news gets splashed around far too much. We need to celebrate the good things too, even though they don't make the front page.