The Beet Green Incident

Posted April 1st, 2012 by June O'Hara and filed in Everything Else

Give the wrong security guard a walkie-talkie and he’ll become drunk with a sense of power. Small-minded and dictatorial, he’ll conjure and impose arbitrary rules designed merely to oppress. Inevitably, strangeness will ensue.

I learned this while shopping for produce.

2002: Battling the aches and pains of fibromyalgia, I juiced. Religiously. And not just fun stuff, like apples and oranges. Having plowed through every book on nutritional healing I could find, I knew what had to be done. Five days a week found me shoving broccoli, string beans, tomatoes, spinach, celery, carrots, Swiss chard and various other vegetables through my juicer’s feed. The resulting concoctions were large glasses of highly nutritious, soil-tasting, watery, foam-topped sludge. I’d steel myself, take a deep breath and down them as quickly as possible, hoping the fluid would reach my alimentary canal before my taste buds caught on.

My taste buds were ever vigilant. Yet, save for one close call (advice: unless under the coercion of terrorists, do not imbibe green pepper juice) never once did I vomit.

Of this I stood proud.

I might have lost jobs to fibromyalgia, but as a juicer, damnit, I was aces.

Beet greens, unusually dense with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, topped the list of my most sought after vegetables. According to many a source, they would restore me to good health, give me stronger hair and nails, and mellow my antagonistic tendencies.

There was, however, one difficulty.

Do you know how hard it is to find decent beet leaves? If not, I’m here to tell you: It’s almost fucking impossible. Limp, tattered, muddy ones? No problem. But quality greens? I was thwarted at every turn. I began to think a secret governmental agency was prohibiting the distribution of what I so sorely needed.

One morning, amassing my goods in the produce section of a large Italian market, I stopped dead and stared. There they were, crowning a bin of discarded carrot tops and corn husks: a splendiferous bunch of robust beet greens.

I grabbed those suckers so fast, you’d have thought they were bars of gold.

“Excuse me,” a man’s voice said.

Turning, I met eyes with a scowling security guard.

“You can’t take those greens,” he said.

“What?”

“It’s policy. You can’t take anything from the bin.”

My jaw dropped. “But they’re discarded!” Then, arms taking flight, I cried, “Do you have any idea how hard it is to find decent beet greens?”

“Miss,” the guard said sternly, “put them back.”

“But. . .”

The guard glared at me. Muttering, I reached for the greens and returned them to the garbage.

After the guard walked away, I meandered up and down the market’s aisles. When a safe amount of time had passed, I wandered, ever so nonchalantly, back to the bin.

As I made my approach, I looked swiftly left and right. The coast was clear. I grabbed the greens, threw them into my cart, and hustled to the register.

He was waiting for me there.

“Put them back,” the guard said.

“Listen,” I told him. “I’ll pay for them. Whatever you want. Please, just. . .”

The guard puffed up his chest, reached for his walkie-talkie, and raised it to his mouth.

So. This wasn’t really about beet greens. This was about a man with diminutive genitalia, and his opportunity to use his ego-fueling walkie-talkie.

Who, I wondered, was the guard calling? Could he have me arrested?

“Here,” I said bitterly, thrusting the greens at him. ”Here are your beloved greens.” Then, narrowing my eyes, I spat, ”Have a wonderful day.”

I turned and stormed to the next available register.

26 Comments
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26 Responses to “The Beet Green Incident”

  1. What the hell? That’s just crazy.

  2. June O'Hara says:

    Meleah, I know! An outrage, I say!

  3. Babs says:

    Are you serious?!! He really wouldn’t let you have them?

    I would have let him call ‘whoever’ and explained my need for them. I would have kicked up such a fuss, they would have given me anything just to get me out of their shop.

    I hate people like that!

  4. June O'Hara says:

    You’re so funny, Babs! You’re so feisty, it makes me almost wish I had made a big scene.

  5. Oh my goodness that was hysterical!! You might have thought you were trying to steal millions in gold!! Thanks for a fun post. I saw your post through an email you sent on She Writes! Feel free to visit me too!
    Lisa Weinstein
    http://www.lisagradessweinstein.blogspot.com

  6. June O'Hara says:

    Yup, Ben. I think it’s oy-worthy.

  7. Cheryl P. says:

    I agree with Meleaha (as I do 99% of the time) That is craziness. The pseudo cop is just tripping on power. What harm would it be for you to take them. Not often, but once in a great while…I have asked to see the manager then made a scene. Yes, purposefully made a scene, so I can get my way as he/she wants to shut me up as I gain on-lookers/bystanders gawking at the aforementioned scene I am making. I am way above shame at this point. Esp. if it means getting my way. I once got a full refund on a piece of luggage that was non-returnable. In fairness to me the first time I used it the zipper broke. Very “making-a-scene” worthy.

  8. why do people throw out good food? Beet green wilt fast if not cooked or juiced right away. Putting them in plastic helps them last. they are probably the hardest green to keep long.

  9. June O'Hara says:

    Jodi, wow! Someone knowledgable about beet greens! I didn’t see that coming.

  10. Please tell me you spat on his shoes or on his walkie?

  11. June O'Hara says:

    I wish, Girlfriendmom. Oh, how I do wish.

  12. We don’t have security guards at my produce mart. I find it amusing that you have one that not only guards the produce, but who guards the bins for trash. I doubt he would have called the police and done a strip search on you though. But maybe under the new Supreme Court ruling, they would. Bastard!

  13. June O'Hara says:

    Or, Linda, I could have just flashed him and run with the goods.

  14. Lauren says:

    What was the deal with the greens? I thought that once stuff hits the can it’s considered remnant commerce. Btw, I wanted to hear more.

    Fabulous writing, my dear.

  15. June O'Hara says:

    Thank you, Lauren. And remnant commerce…LOL.

  16. Annie says:

    There is something so wrong about security cops who guard beet greens. Getting up in your face over beets in a bin is hilarious. At least you got a great post out of it. Made me laugh!

  17. June O'Hara says:

    I know, Annie! It was so fucked up! I don’t know how funny it was to read, but I was laughing as I wrote it. Really, who does that??

  18. MikeWJ says:

    Damn, you write well. You probably look like Gwyneth Paltrow, too. I hate people like you. I also hate beets, and can only imagine how much I’d hate beet greens. I’m gagging as I write this, in fact.

  19. June O'Hara says:

    Thanks so much for hating me, Mike! It seems so fitting for a high holy holiday.

    Seriously, coming from you, a compliment means a lot. I appreciate it.

  20. brenda says:

    Aside from you skirmish with Johnny Law, I am impressed you drank all that veggie goodness (ick). You have unknown strengths, all of which I never suspected. Power Goddess, indeed.

  21. June O'Hara says:

    Brenda, I’m laughing. I don’t know about Power Goddess, but I will say, that shit was disgusting!

  22. brenda says:

    I tried in once, or least I sipped one of those ‘Naked’ drinks Had I not been in a public place I would have spit it out but my upbringing prevent me from doing what my uvula wanted to do.

  23. June O'Hara says:

    I’m trying not to laugh, Brenda, but I’m fast losing the battle.

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