Outta My Yard

By Elizabeth Peavey

Space Odyssey

Hi, everyone. It’s me again.

I know it’s been a long two years for those of you who have been waiting patiently for the next installment of Outta My Yard (really, you had nothing better to do?), but before I resume, will you excuse me a moment? I need to relay a message.

Dear Woman in the Silver Mercedes Station Wagon, With Whom My Husband and I Had a Standoff in the Trader Joe’s Parking Lot Last Summer:

Now, I understand you were probably feeling all tingly and smug in your 1-percent mobile with its “Adopt” [a pet] license plates and your pima cotton shopping bags stuffed with fair-trade quinoa and organic edamame and that we probably burst your fancy foraging bubble when we came to an impasse with you in the parking space you were trying to exit by pulling forward rather than backing out. And I know you were probably dashing off to yet another urgent errand – picking up some sustainably raised squash blossoms from Whole Foods? – and that you simply expected we should get out of your way, but here’s the thing: When we were pulling into our space, we did not see you trying to exit forward until we were nose to nose. And by the time we did, we were already parked.

Further, I know you probably thought we looked like subjects in a Grant (“American Gothic”) Wood painting, sitting and staring stony-faced at you as we did, but we were transfixed by your absolute righteous resoluteness. You would not budge. Your incredulous gaze said in no uncertain terms, “MOVE, peons.” We couldn’t get over the fact that when you did finally back up, you then drove diagonally across the next open parking spaces to exit and idled in the lane until we got out of our Prol-mobile (a fusty Forester) so you could scold, “You know, that wasn’t very nice,” before huffing off.

May I digress for a moment? What on earth has happened to grocery shopping in Portland? I confess I’ve largely eschewed the two aforementioned chains as much as I’ve been able to since they opened. Now, I’m not going to get into the “faux hippie Wal-Mart” argument about Whole Foods, or question the secretive business practices of Trader Joe’s. I just don’t like how shopping at these places makes me feel. I don’t like to be made to choose between “conventional” and good produce. (Move, you factory-farmed-broccoli eater.) I don’t like a 1-to-5 rating scale concerning how the animals I might consume have been treated. (Do I take a chance on a “3” and hope those chickens didn’t have their beaks pulled off?) And I don’t want to have a significant interaction with my cashier every time I’m trying to dash in and out of a store for a bag of wasabi peas. Hell, I don’t even always want a significant interaction with people I know.

No, I was content with the good old Back Cove Hannaford — that is, until they entered what can only be termed the Big Dig of groceryland. It’s not just that the place has been under construction for what seems a Dickensian length of time (Pardon me, good sir, could you direct me to the meat and mead aisle?), but they “Gaslight” you every time you’re there. Just when you’ve figured out where the lentil soup is, bam — it’s relocated. My theory is they’re just moving stuff around to wear us down, so we won’t notice how often they’re out of such exotic items as Grape-Nuts. Or Planters unsalted peanuts. Or dishwashing sponges. And I love that they’ve situated the flower shop and “café” right in the line of traffic out of the produce section, so that you’ll do — what? Decide to curtail your shopping and sit and have one of those ridiculous, here’s-more-plastic-crap-for-the-landfill, one-cup K-Cup coffee shots?

And while I’m in the neighborhood, Hey, Back Cove Trail walkers. A leash law means all dogs on a leash, not all dogs aside from yours who, as you’re quick to tell me, is friendly. (Well, I’m not.) You know what else? Highly bleached teeth give me the creeps. I don’t know where to look when I talk to someone whose teeth are the brightness of a new Titleist golf ball. And speaking of teeth and landfills, can anyone tell me why Colgate increased the cap size on its toothpaste from the size of a Barbie pint glass to a G.I. Joe crockpot? More petroleum products to gather on the shores of the Galapagos, right? Right? Right?

Pardon me. It’s clear that after not writing for The Bollard for two years, I’m experiencing something of a column backlog-buildup purge. But boy, I feel better. Don’t you? Now, where was I? Oh yes…

Madam. Maybe we’re not as la-di-da as you, but we do — according to AAA Northern New England Manager of Public Affairs Pat Moody — have right on our side. While Moody did recently say over the phone that carefully pulling all the way forward into a space, facing out, when parking is often recommended, he stressed that parking lot spaces are not to be used as a throughway. “The lines,” he said, “are there for a purpose.” 

In the end, lady, we weren’t being not-nice. We were just standing our ground. And remember, we are the 99 percent, and we’re not backing down.


My name is Elizabeth Peavey. I am a humor columnist. And I’m back.