Tag Archive: Meijer

Local “Patriot” Attacks Elderly Woman at Meijer

Last week, I wrote a post about my experiences shopping at the local Meijer store. (Please see Living in the Land of Jesus, Guns, and Republicans: I Went Shopping at Meijer Today.) Several days later, a twenty-six-year-old Christian woman who describes herself as an anti-mask “patriot” took to social media to express her outrage towards an elderly mask-wearing woman who dared to “touch” her shopping cart while shopping at Meijer.

outrage at defiance meijer (2)

After receiving universal condemnation from locals, this “patriot” wrote:

outrage at defiance meijer (1)

In typical “patriot” fashion, the woman deleted her posts. She didn’t apologize or say she overreacted. Nope, she just deleted the posts and pretended that it never happened. This post is my way of memorializing her act of ignorance and stupidity.

I question, at times, the punitive nature of social media, but I have come to see that the only way to deal with some people is to publicly shame them — the equivalent of being put in stocks on the public square. I am appreciative of locals who stood up to this bully and who also defended the elderly woman. I can be quite critical of the denizens of rural northwest Ohio — rightly so — but in this instance locals responded appropriately to this self-described American “patriot.”

And what, exactly, do mask-wearing and social distancing have to do with patriotism? There seems to be this notion among rural, white, right-wing Trump supporters that all of their beliefs and stands are patriotic in nature. We saw this thinking on full display ninety miles from here when militia members and Ever-Trumpers armed themselves with assault rifles and took over the Michigan statehouse. They called themselves “patriots,” when, in fact, they were bullies and thugs.

Personally, I am not a fan of the word patriotism. Its use and meaning have been co-opted by Trump and the Republican party, and to a lesser degree the Democrats. Let’s debate the issues without our discussions devolving into social media frenzies, the equivalent of two chimpanzees throwing shit at each other.

You would think that the Coronavirus pandemic would bring Americans together, rallying us around a common cause. Unfortunately, thanks to President Trump’s bombastic, ignorant speeches, press conferences, and tweets, a sizeable percentage of adult Americans believe that the pandemic is all about depriving Trump of his birthright, persecuting Christians, and turning the United States into a socialist state.

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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Living in the Land of Jesus, Guns, and Republicans: I Went Shopping at Meijer Today

meijer-covid-19

This post contains cursing. If you are easily offended by such language, I suggest you read something else.

Earlier today, we drove to nearby Defiance, Ohio to do some shopping at Meijer. I wondered exactly how locals would be acting now that Governor Mike DeWine has loosened or removed many of the restrictions that keep Ohioans sequestered at home. I say “wondered,” when, in fact, I knew exactly what I would see.

I live in the land of Jesus, Guns, and Republicans. And not just any Jesus. Sure, there are liberal and progressive Christians around here, but, for the most part, those who worship the dead Son of God are Evangelicals. Even those who attend mainline churches tend to skew to the right religiously. Atheists? Why, we are so rare that locals don’t even think we exist.

There are hundreds of churches in the quad-county area. I live in a community of 356 or so people. Within a few miles of my home there are three Church of God congregations, a Catholic church, a Methodist church, and two non-denominational churches. That’s why locals who haven’t read my writing assume I am a worshiper of Jesus. Several years ago, a woman engaged my daughter Bethany — who has Down syndrome — in a discussion about music at a high school basketball game. The woman asked, “so what kind of music do you like?” Bethany quickly gave her top five list of country bands. Then the woman said, “you like Christian music too, right?” Bethany said nothing. Much like her mother, she hates Christian music. I looked at the woman, gave her my fake smile, and said, “oh, we listen to all sorts of music.” And without missing a beat, I said, “should be a good game tonight.”

This woman, a devout follower of the Evangelical Jesus, had no place in her worldview for people who didn’t listen to Christian music. Imagine what her response might have been had I said, “We are atheists. We don’t listen to shitty Christian music.” Of course, I am too polite to do so.

I assume that local Christians have at least have been taught what is commonly called the TWO GREAT COMMANDMENTS:

  • Thou shalt love the Lord they God with all thy heart, soul, and might (mind)
  • Thou shalt love your neighbor as thyself

I say “assume,” because, based on what I saw while shopping today, it is evident that local Christians have forgotten about loving their neighbors. I personally know several local progressive/liberal pastors. I know these men of God take seriously the Coronavirus pandemic and what can be done to lessen the spread of COVID-19. I do wonder, however, what local right-wing pastors are conveying to their congregants about the current pandemic. I suspect, not much.

I am sure someone is going to ask, “what does Evangelical Christianity have to do with what you experienced today?” Everything. You see, Evangelical theology breeds right-wing Republican/Libertarian political beliefs. All those old people who watch Faux News every night? They live here in Defiance, Williams, Henry, and Fulton counties. They have birthed children and have grandchildren who, having experienced little else but the white Evangelical monoculture of rural northwest Ohio, walk in their right-wing parents’/grandparents’ shoes. Want to know who to blame for the presidency of Donald Trump? Look no farther than rural northwest Ohio. Almost seven out of ten voting locals voted for Trump. Beliefs have consequences. Not only do Republicans control EVERY local/state/federal office, but their Jesus-infused political beliefs also infect every aspect of local life. And local Republicans are not the centrist Republicans I remember from back in the days when Jim Rhodes was governor and Howard Metzenbaum, John Glenn, and George Voinovich represented Ohio in the U.S. Senate. Thanks to the racist Tea Party rebellion against “Kenyan-born” Barack Obama, local Republicans have moved to the right, embracing immoral Libertarian politics. Many of these same people are militia-friendly gun owners who supported the recent armed takeover of the Michigan state house.

I can’t help but notice their memes and posts on social media decrying liberals, atheists, and virtually every action taken by the government to keep them safe during this pandemic. No conspiracy is too extreme for them. Bill Gates, as a modern-day Josef Mengele? The Chinese government behind the Wuhan virus? 5G causes COVID-19? Vaccines, the mark of the beast? I have seen every one of these crazy conspiracies touted on local Facebook pages. Good Christian people want the country opened up NOW! If doing so kills the neighbors they are supposed to love, so be it. All that matters to them is their “rights.” Ironically, most of the locals demanding freedom to do whatever they want, are anti-abortion, opposed to same-sex marriage, and oppose teaching evolution in public school science classes. Evidently, “freedom” only applies when their way of life is interrupted or impeded. I so wanted to ask these Libertarian dick-waggers, “do you mind if I strip off my clothes and stand on the sidewalk in front of your house while your children play in the yard?” Freedom, baby! It’s tyranny to restrict me in any way! Don’t like it? Stay in your house. Such is the absurdity of immoral, anarchist Libertarianism.

Yesterday, I heard a newscaster say that sixty-eight percent of people wear masks to protect themselves and others from exposure to the Coronavirus. I said to the TV — a common thing for me to do these days — where? Austin? Seattle? Not here, that’s for sure. Since March 7, I have gone to the store (hardware and grocery) six or so times. I have done my best to avoid mouth breathers, ordering online from Walmart, Amazon, Target, Chief Supermarket, Menards, Wayfair, CVS, New Egg, B&H, and several small companies when I can instead of going to brick-and-mortar stores. (You should see the mountain of cardboard we’ve accumulated in our garage.) Today’s trip was unavoidable. I know that every time we go to the store we risk infection, but it’s impossible for us to become hermits — even though such a life is appealing. All we know to do is limit exposure as much as we can, hoping the COVID-19 virus doesn’t track us down and kill us.

Today, roughly thirty percent or so of shoppers were wearing face masks. At Meijer, employees are required to wear masks, and every worker kept the letter of the law. I saw numerous employees, including one manager, with their masks pulled below their noses. I wanted to say, “you do know you breathe in and out of your nose, expelling whatever into the air?” I get it, wearing masks is uncomfortable and restricts breathing. To that I say, “tough shit.” Life is hard, period, right now, and we all have to adapt. Stop your whining.

As far as my fellow citizens were concerned, most of them were not wearing masks, and neither were they the least bit concerned about social distancing. (And to those who were wearing masks and trying to stay the fuck away from each other? Thank you, for loving your neighbor as yourself.) I saw numerous groups of mainly older people closely huddled together shooting the breeze. I wanted to go up to them and say, “are you guys idiots? You do know that you are at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 and dying, right?” Something tells me that doing so would have been a waste of time. Trump, Hannity, Ingraham, and their favorite TV preachers told them all the need to know about the Wuhan virus, end of discussion. Got any hydroxychloroquine or bleach?

What made things worse is that Meijer management decided to have its workers stock shelves on a Friday at 4:00 PM. Managers get from employees what they demand, so it seemed clear to me that managers were not that interested in making sure workers properly wear masks and practice social distancing. It’s impossible to stay six feet away from people if there are stockers and carts in the middle of aisles. The dairy aisle was the worst. Two women were stocking the coolers. They had THREE stock carts, plus a cardboard cart in the middle of the aisle, blocking traffic from both directions. I wanted to scream. Yes, I am angry, pissed off, and irritated. I am oh-so-tired of such carelessness and indifference.

Two things stood out during our shopping foray at Meijer. First, there were two morbidly obese seniors driving motorized carts through the store. They were together. Neither of them was wearing masks. One woman had a tank of oxygen perched on her basket in case she needed it. I thought, “talk about clueless. Death on wheels coming my way!” Second, there was a man in his early thirties with his significant other and several children. No mask, no surprise. He was a burly manly man. Real men don’t wear sissy masks. As I watched from a distance, the man sneezed, with gusto, not once, not twice, but three times. Three massive bursts of particles into the air. He made no effort to hold his sneeze or direct it into his arm or a cloth. Nope, this man just expelled his sneezes into the air. I am at a place in life where I consider such behavior criminal, no different than an HIV positive man having unprotected sex with someone. This man could have COVID-19 and not know it. Sure, he’s young, but young people DO die from this virus, and at the very least he could be an asymptomatic carrier. Whatever he was, he most certainly was an inconsiderate asshole.

I could write a lot more about our trip to Meijer today, but I will leave my raging storytelling here. I know that someone is sure to say, “Bruce, you should stay home! Sick? Aged? Not my problem. You need to quarantine, not me.” Fine. Are you going to make sure we have sufficient income to live? Are you going to make sure we have access to food, safely delivered to our home? Are you going to make sure we have medical care, including the delivery of our medications? “Of course not, Bruce! Freedom, baby! I get to live, and you, well sorry, but you don’t. Can’t worry about a ‘few’ old people dying.”

And come Sunday, these people who raised holy hell over supposed “death panels” a few years ago, will go to church, professing their love for Jesus and their fellow man. Disconnected from their words will be the reality of their behavior. Don’t tell me how much you love Jesus and your neighbor, show me. People who really love their neighbors will do everything they can to make sure the sick, elderly, and vulnerable are protected and cared for. That you refuse to wear a mask tells me that the only person you care about is self. I thought Jesus told his followers to deny themselves, to put God and others first? All I saw today was unmitigated selfishness.

I am an atheist, yet I live according to the grand truth that I should love my neighbor as myself. It matters to me if my neighbors, along with their families, get sick or die. The least I can do for them is wear a mask, wash my hands, and stay six-feet away. And to locals who only value their personal freedom and scream TYRANNY when asked to wear a mask? I say, “fuck you.”

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so. Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Dear Meijer, Please Don’t Remind Me that I’m Getting Old

senior citizen discount

We do most of our shopping at the nearby Meijer store in Defiance, Ohio. There’s a Kroger on the east side of Defiance, but we’ve only shopped there a handful times since we moved back to NW Ohio in 2005.  There’s also an Aldi store and a locally owned store called Chief Supermarket. Both of our youngest children work part-time at Chief in Bryan. (they work full-time at Sauder Woodworking)

Meijer loves for me to express my opinion about this or that recent purchase or my last visit to the Defiance store. Today, after checking out the Thanksgiving week sale paper, a browser pop up asked me if I would like to share my opinion about what I had just viewed. Why not, I thought. Sometimes, Meijer offers respondents an opportunity to win a gift card. Woo-Hoo! No such inducement this time, but I still took the survey.

At the end of the survey they asked me my age. Great, I thought. Here comes a reminder of how o-l-d I am. What follows is a screen shot of the survey’s age question.

age graphic

Damn, I thought, only two age groups to go. I could choose to focus on this depressing bit of information, but instead I decided that I would focus on the fact that I have successfully survived the previous ten age groups. Who knows, I just might make it to the 65 and over category; the age when marketers no longer value your opinion or money.

Things I HATE About Shopping at Meijer and Most Other Grocery Stores

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We live in a small, rural, NW Ohio community, population 345.  The village of Ney has one traffic light, two bars, one gas station, and two people who seriously doubt God exists.  Both of the local bars serve food, one is a mom and pop style restaurant and the other is a pizza joint.

The closest town is Bryan, five miles away. Bryan has a few fast food restaurants,a Chief Supermarket, and a Walmart.  Defiance, ten miles away, is the biggest community in Defiance County with a population just south of 17,000. Defiance has a plethora of fast food restaurants,a small mall, a few full service restaurants, and a small collection of free-standing big-box/small-box stores. There are five grocery stores in Defiance: Walmart, Aldi, Chief, Meijer, and Kroger.

Serious shopping requires a fifty mile drive to Toledo or a forty mile drive to Fort Wayne.  For this reason and others, my favorite store is Amazon.com.  I don’t have to get in the car and I don’t have to holler at Polly except when UPS or FedEx is at the door. When we want to eat a nice meal that’s more upscale than Applebee’s or McDonald’s we go to Toledo or Fort Wayne. Most of the time we go to Fort Wayne.

Our favorite grocery store is Meijer. Meijer is a regional grocery chain  based in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  We also like shopping at Chief Supermarket, a local grocery company. Due to the loathsome politics of the Walton family, we hate shopping at Walmart. But, thanks to having more budget than money, we are forced, from time to time, to give Satan some of our money. We eat a lot of fish and Walmart is the best place for buying frozen fish and Zero candy bars. Brisket too. Walmart is the only store in town that sells brisket, a must have cut of meat during BBQ season. We also infrequently shop at Aldi and we try to shop at Chief as often as we can. Our youngest daughter and son work part-time for Chief, so we view our grocery purchases as job security for them. We do not shop at Kroger. High prices and those damn cards they make customers use make Kroger our least favorite store. We also regularly buy meat from Jacob’s Meats, located just north of Defiance.

I am the primary shopper in our family. I know, a little Susie homemaker I am, a discredit to the male species. Polly and I shop together, but I am the one who checks prices and quantities and decides what to buy. We have a white board in the kitchen and shopping needs are supposed to be written on the board. Did you notice the word supposed? (Polly is glaring at me, giving me the finger without ever raising her hand) We use coupons, shop with a list, use mPerks, and always pay with a debit/credit card.

Going to the grocery is often the only time I get out of the house. Most often, I haltingly enter the store, already in pain. About fifteen minutes into our low price safari, my thighs and face begin to burn and turn numb. Not long after, I need to lean on the cart just to partially stand up.  By the time we are finished shopping, I am in tremendous pain and ready for a four Vicodin with vodka drink. I dream of this, but the reality is I am very careful with the medications I take, so it’s  two Vicodin with a glass of water and a Tramadol chaser.

There are a lot of things that irritate me when I go to the grocery store, If you have some illusion that I am a Zen-like person who has perfect peace and calm as he painfully shuffles down the aisles of the grocery, I am sorry that your illusion is about to be destroyed.

I love shopping at Meijer. I am a Meijer fan-boy.  Anything I can do to stick it to Walmart, I am all for it. But, as much as I like shopping at Meijer, there are some things that irritate me. I mean really, really, really irritate me.

Bruce’s, Top 21 Things I Hate About Shopping at Meijer:

  • My number one irritation is the greeters, well really just one greeter.  This one greeter is an automaton. I kid you not, she says the exact same thing, with the exact same cadence, every damn time. When we come in the store she says in her best robot voice, Welcome to Meijer.  When we leave the store she says Have a nice day, thank you for shopping at Meijer. Have you ever seen the comedy Good Burger? If so, this greeter is just like the one Good Burger worker who says, Welcome to Good Burger, home of the Good Burger! Can I take your order?
  • Shopping carts that have squeaky wheels or wheels that go thump, thump.
  • The way the meat department stacks meat above the cooling line in the meat coolers. I have complained to the manager and I have called the health department. Evidently, no one seems to care that some meat products are not kept at a proper temperature.
  • Advertised items not stocked. Every week we have to go ask someone for a sale item or we have to go to the service desk to request a rain check.
  • Fish that is on sale, but the meat department never seems to have in stock. This happens EVERY week.
  • Deli clerks who stand fifteen feet away and say, can I help you? No, of course not. I’ve been standing here for five minutes waiting for you to finish washing dishes. No hurry, I know Meijer doesn’t want to sell me any food from the deli.
  • Produce clerks who refuse to restock the counters until that last smashed tomato is purchased or the last three ears of corn are dutifully placed in a yellow bag ten times bigger than the measly sized ears of corn.
  • Deli clerks who ask me three times how much ham I want. Did I stutter? One pound and not one hundredth of an ounce over. Can’t you see that I am on a diet?
  • People who are too lazy to put items they don’t want back where they belong. Polly found a thawed out frozen cake that some lazy ass had dumped. The only worse thing? The Meijer clerk probably put it back in the freezer.
  • Not necessarily only a Meijer problem, but I hate the size game that food producers play, A quart is no longer a quart. An 18 ounce jar of peanut butter is now 15 ounces. I am very good at spotting packaging that has been reworked to hide a reduction in the amount of product.  I think I would make a good spy for Consumer Reports.
  • Shopping for toilet paper. Am I the only  person who thinks we are getting ripped off one sheet at time? It is becoming harder and harder to figure out exactly how much toilet paper you are getting in your single, double, triple, mega toilet paper roll. Is it single ply or double ply? Is it twice as strong or just every day get your fingers poopy strong?
  • People who stand in the middle of the aisle during busy times. No matter how long I stand there and give them the Gerencser glare, they seemingly are oblivious to anything but their middle of the aisle bull session.
  • Ditto that for people who seem to only use the motorized carts on the busiest days of the week. I am all for handicapped people being able to shop, but a little common sense about it would be very helpful.
  • Cashiers who don’t know their veggies. How many times have I heard “what are these?” Sometimes, when we buy a lot of  veggies I tell the cashier that I work for Meijer Corporate office and I am testing their veggie knowledge. The younger the cashier the fewer number of veggies they can name.
  • Scanners that don’t work at the self-checkout. When I have to get help three times, that is three times too many. What makes it worse is when the clerk says “Yeah, we have had a problem with that one all day.” Argh…cuss in mind, but smile with my fake I love Jesus smile.
  • Stockers who think that their shelf stocking takes precedence over my ability to get down the aisle. Sometimes I will, without saying a word, move their cart. Oh the dirty looks , but I think they get the point.
  • Dirty bathrooms. Never clean enough for me. I expect clean floors to splatter urine on. I hate electric hand dryers. Give me paper towels or give me death by unwashed hands.
  • People who glare at me when I park in a handicapped space. I DO have a placard, but evidently I don’t look disabled enough. I look too young or I don’t “look” disabled, even though I walk with a cane. Never mind that going to the store, to that one store, often takes every bit of my energy, not only for that day, but for two days later. Sometimes, but I never do, I want to wave at them with my middle finger raised high.
  • Not stocking hats and shirts for fans of the Cincinnati Reds and Cincinnati Bengals. Browns, Lions, Indians, and Tigers? What, isn’t Cincinnati in Ohio? Not that I would buy hats and shirts from Meijer if they stocked them. The last time I checked, Meijer’s price for a cheap snap back hat was more than what I paid for a fitted, game day hat. I know my hats.
  • Not stocking candy bars I like to eat. Come on, Meijer, how about Clark, Zero, and Zagnut bars?
  • Not stocking Paczki’s all year. I know you stock them for Catholics loading up on calories before Lent, but some of us like to pig out 365 days a year. Same goes for chocolate frosted long john donuts. When I want a donut, I want a donut and it better be 6:00 AM fresh no matter what time of day it is.

I love shopping at Meijer. Now if they would just take my list of irritations and fix them I would be extremely happy. After all, the customer is always right.

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