Obsolescence and doing business

CITY LIFE.CAYUCOS SUPERMARKET*

 

by Stacey Warde

I run my life off a tired Apple computer, a MacBook Pro, that’s 10 years old, which has been a fine and dependable workhorse. I use it as an entertainment center for radio, news and tv. I write articles, run this magazine and my business on it. It’s my connection to the world.

It’s so old, however, the company that made it refuses to service it any more. “Um, yeah, that machine is obsolete,” an Apple techie said recently when I asked for help with a fan that had gone bad.

I watched a YouTube video on my cell phone to figure out how to fix it myself. Not long after that, I noticed the thin protective panel on the computer’s removable battery starting to peel off.

I made a quick run into town to pick up some super glue. Living in a small town, there’s only one store, the Cayucos Supermarket, which in its own peculiar way—with its leaky open cold storage, occasional cruddy fly strips hanging from the ceiling, and chipped, stinky deteriorating floors—is also obsolete.

I’ve often thought this place could use its own sprucing up, a much-needed upgrade and paint job and repairs, so the owner, for example, wouldn’t need to put towels down on the floor to soak up water leaking from the ancient cold storage; and maybe improve the selection by including some produce from the many nearby farms to give it a touch of fresh and local. But, when you’re on a budget like me, which I’m guessing is the problem here, you make do with what you’ve got.

I found my way to a corner of the store where knick knacks such as can openers, spatulas and other forgotten or missing kitchen essentials and fix-it items like super glue hang on the wall. It’s the quick-fix corner for the summer flood of tourists and vacationers who come to town and are likely to need missing items from their vacation homes or travel packs.

The fix-it corner sits at the end of the produce display at the south side of the store. The produce section features an incomplete and sad selection of limp and tired fruits and vegetables, where flies and gnats buzz the air, and where shoppers aren’t likely to get too inspired for their meal plans. The prices vary but verge on the high side; you don’t really get what you pay for here, but shoppers like me patronize the store anyhow, for the convenience mostly. It’s the only show in town.

As I stood there gazing at the wall, searching for super glue, I heard someone spraying down the produce. “How nice,” I thought without looking, “someone’s spritzing the fruits and vegetables.” Then, I smelled the distinct chemical odor of bug spray.

I turned to see who was spritzing the produce and got caught in a stinky cloudy chemical mist. The store owner, who apparently didn’t know I was standing there, seemed surprised to see me and waved his hand to brush away the mist. “Oops! Didn’t mean to get you too,” he said, waving a green can with thick black lettering, what appeared to be a can of RAID in his hand before he turned and quickly walked away.

“Did I just see what I think I saw?”

It was an embarrassing moment for both of us. I just wanted to get some super glue to patch my tired old computer without being exposed to bug poison; he just wanted to get rid of those pesky bugs bombing the produce without making a display of it, or accidentally dousing a customer with pesticide.

I didn’t know what to think: “I’ll never buy produce from this place again,” was my first thought, then, “how much of the bug killer got into my lungs? How much of that crap have I ingested over the years buying produce here? Should I call the health department? Will I ever come back to this store? Where’s that damn super glue?”

Finally, I spotted the package with the tiny little squeeze tube, which was hanging from a hook near the can openers, and pulled it off the wall. “This will work,” I decided, eager to get out of the store.

Before making my way toward the front of the store again, where the cash registers are, to pay for my glue, I made one quick glance at the bugless produce display. “Yuck,” I thought. I didn’t say anything to the cashier, mostly grousing to myself, eager to get home so I could fix the loose battery panel on the back of my old computer.

“I get it,” I thought, back at home, meticulously patching the super glue onto the loose panel, “you make do with what you’ve got, sopping wet floors with old towels, and hanging fly strips from the ceiling, just like I’m doing here, patching up this battery, wondering how much longer this tired machine is going to last.” §

Stacey Warde is publisher of The Rogue Voice. He can be reached at roguewarde@gmail.com.

4 comments

  1. I am truly sorry for your misfortune. I’m also sorry you have to go as low as to “Expose” a tiny little hometown family market. Which you failed miserably at. Oh? You’re a publisher? Good for you. But truly not a known respected one , considering you like to blast an innocent elderly man. Maybe you should focus less on that mans mistake and pay attention to you’re own mistakes. You own Rogue and he owns the market. You have flaws , trust me I’ve read very carefully and critiqued every single inch of your story. Not only does it make me twitch with so much empathy for your cringe worthy topic , but you obviously have no clue how much chemicals you DO eat outside of that market. Every single supermarket has chemicals on their produce that were sprayed in the fields that they are grown. It’s a known fact that you should ALWAYS wash your produce you buy. From ANY market. Oh and by the way , the produce is local. You’d know this if you actually spent time getting real information. – Love Mik

    1. Mik:

      I write stories, not “exposés,” about personal experience. I saw a local grocer spraying produce with RAID, and wrote a story about how much we have in common, about how we both do our best to make do with what we have. I’m well aware of my mistakes and will own up to them as best I can, as I would hope our local grocer would by refusing to spray our local produce with bug killer. By the way, is spraying RAID on produce at the local market a “mistake”? I guess it’s ok to spray pesticides at the farm but I doubt the state’s health regulators would be ok with spraying pesticides on produce in the markets. I may be wrong. Generally, I avoid eating chemicals by eating ORGANIC as much as possible. I wash all my fruits and veggies, even the ones I grow at home. Yes, I do have flaws but signing off with “love” when I don’t really mean it isn’t one of them.

  2. The large scale equivalent of spraying RAID on the produce creates and maintains the ruling class. Some of us in the precariat won’t do things like that. Fixing your old computer is admirable. Thanks for the writing!

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