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Relevations & Frozen Broccoli

{From Co-Director Karen Rohrer}

Our neighborhood local grocery store is called Thriftway. Thriftway has a cage around their exits so you can’t get the carts beyond the sidewalk, a turnstile that talks to you too loudly when you enter, and a meager selection of produce.

I used to kind of hate it.

But now, as I continue to return for some odd or end, the Cabot yogurt that they sell seemingly no where else in the city or their excellent ice cream selection, I’m starting to learn what is so vital and valuable about the Thriftway, beyond its frustrations.

First the Thriftway is walkable, now in my mind that used to simply mean that people could get there if they didn’t have a car. But the more I go the more I recognize that that means folks can walk with their strollers and their little ones, people can walk to work there, and because of its neighborhood location, you almost always see a neighbor or two.

Somehow that serves to make the world seem more manageable. The neighbor across the street buys groceries too, and I get a chance to chat with her. The bar tender from our local is there with his kids, stacking groceries around the baby carrier. The disconnection of my over working lifestyle isn’t really possible in this environment. At some point I’m going to run over just to grab a last minute ingredient in my sweatpants and I’m going to run into a neighbor and they’re going to know that I’m human. And even beyond that, the employees are going to know I’m human.

Somehow, the Thriftway manages to have the most friendly, genuinely kind employees I’ve ever encountered. The regular greeting of the man who restocks the dairy case is so kind and actually sincere, with no ulterior motive, I almost get teary about it every time he tells me to “Have a good day, love.” The cashiers who check me out share a little bit about their lives of laugh with me at my frozen dinner and ice cream combination, and not because it is corporate policy to chitchat—but because they are also human beings.

It doesn’t seem like it would be that profound to have a brief conversation with stranger, but actually, our common humanity is so often the last thing on our busy minds out in the world, every time this happens at the Thrift Way, I’m surprised and moved.

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