I almost got into a fight (okay, fight is too strong a word so I’ll change it)….I almost got into a tussle with some old ladies (“old ladies” being defined as women about 20 years older than me, I’m a middler woman if you must know). Old ladies in the face of a bargain are a force to be reckoned with!
When? Where? Why?
Saturday morning. Fields Corner. Vegetables…Farmer’s Market Vegetables.
I combined my daily morning walk with chores on Saturday morning. I hit the sidewalk at 8:00 and headed down to the Fields Corner Post Office. I was heading back to Ashmont Station to do my banking when I saw a crowd of people, mostly women, mostly older women, in the parking lot of the mall at Field’s Corner. (Don’t know if the mall has an official name.) I think not. (The parking lot was redone recently and so it is a thing of beauty with no potholes, visible lines, and landscaping, not the usual condition of many neighborhood malls.)
I noticed a banner declaring that the Fields Corner Farmers Market was happening. I decided to check it out. There were more than 100 people there – many of them older women. They were standing in front of tables and pulling plastic bags off rolls as they spied which boxes of produce they would head for when the market opened.
A worker at the market started going around trying to limit the # of plastic bags the women were pulling off. (I managed to get two.) She told us no shopping before the market officially opened and that it would not open until 9. No sooner than she said this and turned to walk to talk to some of the other workers then the old ladies took matters in their own hands. They rushed forward, the clerk threw up her hands in dismay and the market officially open.
It was on. I pulled a canvas bag out of my purse, went to the first place I could get near and tried to grab two heads of lettuce (Boston and red leaf – $1.25 per head).
The first tussle was when I went for the lettuce – two older women there were filling a box with lettuce and they didn’t want me to get two but I faked them out by reaching low. “I only want two,” I told them as I grabbed and plucked them in the plastic bag.
I couldn’t get near the corn, too many people who were examining the corn and quickly discarding cobs deemed not worthy or filling bags and other containers with corn that was.
My only hope for getting through the phalanx of Vietnamese and Caribbean women was to grab quickly. The produce was so gorgeous I quickly realized I didn’t have to worry about half-rotted wares like I’ve experienced at Haymarket and should just grab what I could wherever I saw an opening.
I got broccoli, lettuce, red peppers, mint, and cucumber. I wanted scallions but couldn’t get near it or carrots.
I headed to the check out area. Because my selections were rather modest, there were only about 15 people at the check out tables with several cashiers. This was the scene of the second tussle. The women and one older gentlemen acted like I was invisible and kept putting produce on the scale even though the clerk had grabbed my bags and was clearly planning to help me.
First person did it – okay, no problem. Second person did it – I’m a little annoyed but I’m not really in a rush. Third person did it – okay, this is a bit much. “It’s my turn now,” I said. That’s when two of the women decided to flank me on either side and put all their bags on the table so that I couldn’t see my original bags.
“I was here first” I said politely and begin pushing their stuff aside to find my three bags.
“No, matter, take my stuff,” lady to the left says and puts her hand on my left arm as she pushes her bags.
The clerk shrugged, looked at me and said, “I’ll take you right after her.”
“Okay,” I harrumphed and pulled my hand away. (Shopping is not a contact sport or so I thought. The scene reminded me of the big 8:00a.m. sales at Filene’s Basement where you had to grab indiscriminately and find a spot to decide if you wanted what you’d grab later.)
Old lady chickee-poo, then proceeds to push bag, after bag, after bag of produce from herself and the lady on my right side and a lady to her right. They must have been buying for a restaurant. They stepped on my feet, pushed elbows into me as they piled on the veggies. They bought $50 worth of vegetables!
Then old dude who somehow got in, began to haggle over the price of something he was buying. Meanwhile, the crowd has swelled behind me as the line at the checkout tables grows. People are breathing down my neck. Old lady chickee-poo tried to pull my bag of stuff out of my hand, like she hadn’t already put her bags and bags of lettuce through.
“Mine!” I yelled like a two-year old and put my free hand on my hip while I pulled my bags with enough force that she knew I wasn’t playing.
“Sorry,” she said in a sweet voice that belied her previous body language and actions. “Her turn now,” she gestured to the clerk who finally added me up.
“Eight dollars and 45 cents” he said.
Fake sweet-voice old lady chickee-poo looked at me with a pitying smile as if to say, you put up all this fuss for that little bit of food?
Yes, yes I did. That’s all I needed having already been to the grocery store earlier in the week.
Next time I go to that Farmer’s Market I’ll be ready and I’ll be aggressive from the moment I walk in. Or maybe I’ll check out markets near Ashmont Station or Lower Mills and avoid the aggressive, old lady food maniacs ‘cause if I get my feet stepped on and sides elbowed again, I don’t know how restrained I’ll be able to be. (I don’t want y’all reading about me in the Dorchester Reporter for having drop-kicked a sweet-faced old lady.)
To find out more about Farmer’s Markets in Boston: