Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Milky Surprise

The most embarrassing grocery shopping experience ever from The Conscious Shopper

A couple days ago, I headed to Whole Foods with my youngest son, a big stack of reusable bags, and some glass milk jars from a local dairy. The milk jars are returnable with a bottle refund, so when we finish the milk, we rinse the bottle, let it dry upside down in the sink overnight, and then put it in a box on the back porch. When it's time to go to the grocery store, I take the entire box because it's easier than juggling five or six glass jars.

I transferred the box from my porch to my car to the grocery cart without once bothering to look in it. When I got to Whole Foods, I went to the customer service counter and said, "I have five milk bottles to return."

The lady behind the counter began ringing up my refund while I unpacked my box. One bottle. Two bottles. When I got to the third bottle, I yelped. "Oh my gosh! There is a mouse in this bottle!"

"A what?" the lady said.

"A mouse!" I squeaked. I inspected the bottle - definitely dead mouse - and then glanced around the room for a trash can. And then I started giggling madly. What else could I do?

But the lady behind the counter was giving me the death glare. I could tell she was thinking, "You crazy hippie Whole Foods shoppers. Just buy the dang disposable milk jugs already!"

She called another store clerk to take the bottle away. Poor, poor mouse...

And then she refunded me for the bottle.

As I wheeled my cart away, I heard the next person in line say, "I have one milk bottle to return, and there isn't a mouse in mine."

Ah, good times as an environmentalist...What embarrassing/funny experiences have you had in your attempt to do good for the planet?


Wendy said...

Well, I've never had a mouse in one of my returnable bottles, but that sounds like just the sort of thing that would happen to me ;).

One time I was buying socks for my husband, and I'd forgotten a cloth bag, but I had my backpack. When I told the cashier I didn't want a plastic bag, that i'd just put the socks in my bag, she looked at me like I was stealing. Sheesh! But I'd bet what I paid for those socks that the cameras were trained on me until I left he store ;).

Green Bean said...

Here I was thinking what a good idea it was to rinse the bottles and leave them upside down to dry - until the mouse! Eek.

adventuresindinner said...

I actually got stopped at a bookstore after putting my purchases in my diaper bag.

Other than setting my hair on fire while waitressing in University I don't think I've been quite so embarrassed.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

@Wendy - One time several years ago when I was just switching to cloth, a salesclerk at a clothing store insisted that I had to take their plastic bag. I must have looked so distraught, she gave in but glanced around furtively like she was breaking a major rule. Crazy!

@Green Bean - I know! I still can't figure out how the mouse got inside a glass bottle inside a box.

@adventuresindinner - Setting your hair on fire?!

Betsy (Eco-novice) said...

Those poor WF employees. I do feel bad for them sometimes, as they seem to have difficulty relating to the typical (white, upper middle class) WF shopper. I wish I could think of a good story, but all i can think of is that mouse. We just started buying milk in glass and I love it! 2 less plastic gallon jugs per week.

Dmarie said...

what, you got nothing extra for the mouse?

I ran into a cousin one time at the grocery & told her I had hoped not to run into anyone I know due to a bad hair day. She had me beat though...her little one's diaper had leaked on her. She finished her shopping though--gotta love that!

Rosa said...

I took my mom dumpster diving. She was a little unsure at first, but she's an old-time frugalista and once she saw the quality of the stuff we were finding, she was really happy! happy she boasted about it at dinner the next day. Where there were some people who didn't know the bread & veggies had been dumpstered. Oops!

Kate said...

Hah! I've never had a mouse in my milk jar, but I keep them on top of the fridge indoors just to be on the safe side. Our compost pile keeps them pretty busy, though, along with any nearly-empty peanut butter jars I set out for them. Also, I get milk directly from the farmer's cheaper (by a lot!) and being farmers they have seen mice before and so probably wouldn't be quite as freaked out. :-)
I almost always put small purchases in my purse/diaper bag. I don't feel weird about it and haven't ever been stopped, though I've been given odd looks. I just tell them I'm trying to save a plastic tree.

Condo Blues said...

I didn't drill drainage holes in the bottom of the first compost bin I made. After a very wet spring, Dog Vomit Slime Mold developed in the bin and leaked out of the side holes. It looked like a scene from The Blob.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

@Betsy - I love my milk in glass bottles!

@Dmarie - I thought it was funny that she refunded me for the bottle with the mouse. They definitely won't be reusing that bottle!

@Rosa - So funny!

@Kate - On top of the fridge...Good idea.

@Condo Blues - Ach!


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