November 17, 2004

food4less free turkey

I first moved to Bend a year ago this Saturday. My new life in Bend also harkened my introduction to quite possibly the greatest discount foodstuffs store known to mankind: Food4Less.

Yes. Food4Less is all one word. Yes. Food4Less is spelled with the number four. Classy, eh? The establishment is your typical warehouse superstore, with glossy concrete floors and rickety metal shelves that scratch the ceiling. The whole building, both inside and out, is clad in its corporate colors of yellow and green, which results in a garish shopping experience that would make even a Packers fan cringe.

Until a time I used to shop at Food4Less religiously, and if not religiously, at least with a fervent enthusiasm that only a wry and cynical agnostic could liken to interaction with the divine. The groceries were cheap and the PBR cheaper, and that in itself is enough to buy my loyalty to the brand. However, the prices were far from being the focal point of my attraction to Food4Less. Nay, as any wise man will tell you about life, it was the people who made Food4Less worthwhile.

Crazy people shop at Food4Less. Meth addict sightings are through the roof. You get to see people who are so tricked out on the pseudoephedrine party that they can’t bear to stand on both feet at the same time. You can usually spot ’em cuz they look like zombies (typically because they’ve been up for days), their hair is all thin and scraggly (cuz they don’t need to eat or drink for days), and they smell like socks (cuz, like, my socks smell really bad and I’m really stubborn, and I will usually admit that the people I’m arond are hardcore methers before I’ll admit that my socks smell).

But even the methers are a small fraction of the attracton to Food4Less. The people that shop there, as well as the people who work there, are just… off. There’s no other way to describe it, beyond the fact that I feel like I fit right in. One time I saw this tweaked out old lady, who was pushing her dapple dachshund around in her bright yellow shopping cart. The dachshund even had its own hand-sewn pillow, suggesting that she shopped with her dog quite often. Creepy? You bet your socks it was! But it was Food4Less creepy, and I’m totally okay with that.

As unfortunate as most of my relationships turn out, however, Food4Less and I inevitably had a falling out. A few months ago I bought a gallon of pure orange juice for a pocket of pennies. As soon as I got home I popped that sucker open and pulled a long delicious pint of Florida’s Finest, and I stashed the jug in the fridge along with the rest of the day’s bounty.

A few days later I went back for another glass of orange juice, and I noticed that the plastic jug wasn’t exactly sitting flat on the shelf in the fridge, anymore. Actually, it was having trouble sitting up, as though it was recovering from a long hard night at the D and D. I pulled the jug, placed it on the counter and proceeded to unscrew the cap, as one who desires orange juice is wont to do.

The jug hissed at me, and I quickly screwed the cap tight again. Hmm. Apparently the orange juice was under pressure for some reason. Could it be the altitude? I hoped it was the altitude. Maybe that whole thing about opening the orange juice in the first place was entirely made up, a figment of my imagination, and the jug needed to acclimate to 3,600 feet. Because let’s face it, most oranges are not grown in the mountain highlands of Floridia, despite what the orchard lobbyists would have you believe.

Confident, I began unscrewing the cap, and again the jug hissed violently. It was here that I realized that the jug wasn’t even balancing on the counter correctly, and was threatening to tip over. Do oranges get botulism? I wondered. I left the cap a quarter twisted, and my gallon of orange juice just sat there hissing. One minute. Two minutes. Impatiently I grabbed the jug by the handle in one hand, and twisted the cap with the other.

Well. That wasn’t the brightest thing to do. As soon as I twisted the cap it popped off like a cork out of a champagne bottle, flew across the kitchen and dented the wall. What’s more, I now had a geyser of orange juice spraying me in the eyes and covering the kitchen in orangey goodness. Oh yes. I was on the phone, too. Did I mention I was on the phone? I quickly realized the crisis on my hands, so I hung up on Silent C and went about damage control.

It was right about then that my eyes started to burn. It finally dawned on me what had probably happened, and as the jug of orange juice lay in the sink frothing and boiling over, I dunked my head under the faucet to rinse out my eyes. Some way, some how, my orange juice had gone into fermentation, probably with the intent of making orange vodka or something.

The gas generated by the reaction had been building up inside the jug, until a hapless orange juice aficianado happened along and spoiled the whole thing. Aside from the violent finale, it was very similar to Peter’s attempt to make potato vodka in our old, aformentioned apartment. Even though his experiment produced ethyl alcohol while mine produced, like, orange booze, in the end both recipes will leave you blind.

And that’s why I don’t shop at Food4Less anymore, free turkey or no free turkey.

I still shop there, as with a family to feed, they’re still the cheapest in Bend. I just don’t talk to the weirdoes that shop there (though the evening folks there that run the store are nice enough).

Yep. Food4Less right down the road from my house. In a pinch, went in there once to buy cereal and left with an emaciated Mexican kid in my arms.
My wife was pissed when she saw me standing on the porch with the little guy. He was cute as hell, but she made me let him go. We let him loose near the freeway. Another time I was there feeling super handsome and really smart compared to everyone else. Then I saw a guy that was way better looking than me. He looked at me as if I were scum. I stormed out and haven’t been back since.

Ever since they stopped selling all the good bulk candy, I can’t force myself to go into that store any more. The Grocery Outlet seems cleaner, but damn I get scared whenever you buy 7 pounds of fishsticks for $2. That’s real fish, right? 🙂

Think of it this way: if you’re paying $2 for seven pounds of fishsticks, would it be cheaper for them to use real fish, or real sticks?