Armed & Dangerous.

10 Apr

Star Wars Safeway?

The primary grocery chain in the DC area is Safeway, and most of the stores in the city have widely accepted nicknames. (Don’t ask me why the same can’t be said for their chief competitor, Giant.)

For example, the Safeway by me is known as the Soviet Safeway, because inventory often gets picked over, leaving bare shelves and long lines. (Admittedly, it has gotten better in the past 10 years, since Whole Foods opened five blocks away, but the nickname remains.)

The most popular Safeway is probably the Social Safeway, over on Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown. Perhaps because it draws younger customers from nearby Georgetown University, it has an openly flirtatious vibe. If you ask someone to help you retrieve a box from a high shelf, there’s a fair chance you’ll wind up on a date.

Meanwhile, in Adams Morgan, with its high Latino population, sits the Spanish Safeway. The Senior Safeway is located in the basement of the Watergate complex, and we all know that Monica Lewinsky was the only non-retiree to live there since the 1960s.

The Safeway where I shopped when I first moved to DC and lived on the Hill is known as the Un-Safeway, because it is located in the Southeast quadrant of town, where the majority of our city’s crime statistics come from.

There are others – the Sexy Safeway, the Secret Safeway, the Suburban Safeway – but I won’t bore you. That’s not actually the point of this.

The point is: there is a dude who works at the Soviet Safeway who fancies himself something of an on-air personality. I know when he’s working because he seeks out and seizes the microphone, making constant announcements while I shop.

Somehow, in three years together, Alan had never been treated to his schtick. So when we walked into Safeway last week, he heard someone chattering on the PA and said something like, “Oh Lord. Can we shut him up?”

But with my decade of acquired wisdom, I said, “Just listen,” as I pointed to the ceiling.

What started as a thank you for someone who made a check-out donation to Safeway’s cause of the month (testicular cancer?) quickly morphed into a rave about the Virginia Deli Ham that was on special in the back of the store. And then he kept talking. And talking.

Kind of like this. But smoother.

We largely tuned him out, but as we neared the checkout lane it proved more difficult. It also got more interesting.

“Leon,” he said. “Leon, just because you got to work 15 minutes late doesn’t mean the rest of us should have to wait 15 minutes for our break.”

Then, “Leon, the rest of us got here on time and deserve our break. Now come to the front of the store.”


“Leon, man. We have customers here forming long lines who would like to pay so they can leave our store. Get. Up. Front. NOW.”

And finally…

“Leon. Maybe you don’t need this job. But some of us need breaks. This is not cute.”

We had to walk past him as we collected our groceries from the self-checkout area, and in doing so, we accidentally made eye contact. He shook his head with disgust. He looked at us as he spoke into the mike, “Some people!”

And we weren’t sure. Was he talking to us, or Leon?

I do know this: next time, I’m going to wear a smock and be prepared to work the register so someone can get a 15 minute break. If the universe values irony, that someone will be Leon.

11 Responses to “Armed & Dangerous.”

  1. thesinglecell April 10, 2012 at 9:02 pm #

    I’m betting the Giant stores don’t have nicknames because it’s more difficult to be alliterative with Gs. (I know you took that as a challenge.)

    I don’t think I could handle a carnival barker for a grocery store emcee… but if I heard someone yelling at a “Leon”-like employee so publicly, I think I would be highly entertained.

  2. wingedcreature April 10, 2012 at 11:16 pm #

    I can’t stop laughing! It sounds really entertaining. Not for Leon, but I know I would have gotten a kick out of it.

  3. lexy3587 April 11, 2012 at 8:25 am #

    Before they automated all the public transit stop-speakers, there was a subway driver who would sing little songs for each station. Highly entertaining. it made me want to get off at “Ossi-ossi-ossing-TON!” just because it sounded so much more fun said that way 🙂 Definitely the highlight of my trip when I got on the singing driver’s train.
    Poor, embarassed Leon 😛

    • pithypants April 12, 2012 at 3:13 pm #

      Now I want to go to Ossi-Ossi-Osing-TON! Sounds like a blast!

  4. Karen in East Texas April 11, 2012 at 12:30 pm #

    Oh, I seriously needed a good laugh today. Thank you for providing one.

  5. dianeskitchentable April 11, 2012 at 4:18 pm #

    Didn’t you have even the tiniest bit of an urge to grab the microphone? Leon was out back smoking behind the dumpster.

  6. funnyortragic April 11, 2012 at 11:37 pm #

    Our Safeways are not nearly so clever. The only clever thing we have are donut shops. Awesome donuts, master donuts, superstar donuts, sputnut donuts…I don’t know what people are smoking that make them need that many fried treats, but there you are.

    • pithypants April 12, 2012 at 6:58 am #

      What on Earth is a sputnut? Does not sound appetizing…

      • funnyortragic April 13, 2012 at 12:50 am #

        It’s a donut made with potato flakes instead of flour. Gawd, it’s horrible that I know that…

  7. DZ April 14, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

    Oh,I do enjoy your take on life. Now , if you could help me feel better for burning a cigarette exactly on the spacebar of this laptop….I’ve removed the bar itself. you have no idea how many times you hit “space” until you have to hit the tiny button underneath!!!! I’msickofthespacebar!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. hollybernabe April 17, 2012 at 3:05 am #

    Soviet Safeway. Too funny! We have grocery store out here called Grocery Outlet. Since they are a discount type grocery, several years ago a friend of mine dubbed them Gross Me Outlet. I still call it that to this day, despite the fact that I think the store is actually pretty cool.

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