The Selfish Hippie Crusades Against "The Man"

I write for a humor blog with two friends, James Malins and Cherie Michiko, called Misusing Big Words. This post was originally published here:

And “The Man’s” name is Ralph—as in Ralph’s supermarket.

Hippies are all about natural foods, community building, free love and psychedelic drugs. This entry will be about the first two, and briefly touch on the third (apologies to the druggos out there).

I’ve run into some issues since I moved about nine months ago and had to start going to a new grocery store. I’ve shopped at Ralph’s before and was never very impressed with the service or selection, but it was also never anything that dismayed or disturbed me. That all changed when I began shopping at my new Ralph’s.

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Nobody seemed to know anybody else there, which was strange since it seems to be mostly airline employees (due to the close proximity of LAX), LMU students, and Westchester residents, which is an admittedly small community. However, that didn’t bother me so much as the general lackadaisical nature of the employees, long lines at the checkout at all hours, and the very poor quality of the produce.

After all, hippies like their natural foods, but since I’m a selfish hippie, I didn’t want to have to go to Trader Joe’s and pay slightly higher prices.

Trying to be a supportive member of the community, I wrote a letter expressing my dissatisfaction with my neighborhood Ralph’s, detailing my complaints and grievances, and hoping they would be fixed in a timely matter. I received a swift reply saying something to the effect of “We appreciate your business and we apologize for your recent experience. We’ve passed your comments on to the store manager so that they can improve their service. Thank you for shopping at Ralph’s.”

I was elated. My contribution may have actually helped improve the world! And all because I was too selfish to spend an extra couple bucks at Joe’s.

Several months passed with no improvement in service. Needless to say, I was perturbed. Like a dog who looks for better food at the neighbor’s house, I started venturing off, dabbling at Albertson’s, Vons, even Costco despite the general uneasy feeling I get from the type of people who shop there. (You know the ones… they get the huge flatbed carts and usually end up running over at least three people before they’re done buying all their Frappucinos and Velveeta in bulk.) They all were better than my neighborhood Ralph’s.

Well, I decided it. It was time to break up for good. Like all civilized break-ups, I did it through print correspondence. I sent another e-mail through the company website. When I received the reply, I knew I had made the right choice:

Dear Mr. Lehman:

Thank you for contacting Ralphs Grocery Co. Please accept my sincerest apologies for your recent experience. It is our goal to exceed customer expectations and when we don't live up to them, we do want to know about it. I have made the store manager and his team of associates aware of your comments so they can receive the feedback they need in order to improve in this area. A member of management will contact you within the next week to discuss your experiences.

Again, I am very sorry that your experience did not meet your expectations, or ours. Thank you for shopping at Ralphs. There is nothing more important to us than making sure your shopping experience meets your every need.


Emily Boomershine
Consumer Affairs

Well Ms. Boomershine, I think you work for a crappy company, and you should quit and find a job worthy of you and your very cool surname. This hippie will be finding a new grocery store. Safeway, anyone?

What kinds of bad experiences have you had with Ralph’s?
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