Justin Hall's personal site growing & breaking down since 1994

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S afeway I sometimes shop at the Safeway on Fruitvale off 580 in Oakland.

fall 1998:

two experiences illuminate this safeway for me.


one night, slightly stoned, i wandered over to safeway to pick up a few necessities - crackers, produce, dairystuffs. the nearly-midnight shift are talkers - the staff were joking amidst themselves in the pre-closing emptiness. besides myself, probably looking gay in a hand-me-down from howard and buddy holly glasses, the only customers were a few families, mostly black, stocking up. i was a little surprised to see the kids up that late. there were also transient dudes picking up on canned soups.

i asked for some advice on some dishwashing soap and took up the question of dishwasher convenience with one safeway dude. he missed having a dishwasher, and he didn't think there was that much difference between the powder or the gel.

at the counter they took a long time and shouted across the asiles about which condoms i wanted - trojans with spermacide they didn't have, only trojans extra large. they weren't big enough, but i took them anyway; we needed condoms and i wasn't going to turn down any good latex after the midnight safeway crew had rallied to provide the alternative selection.

the other notable time i visited was in the daytime, and i noticed an entirely different clientele - old (mostly- white folks. looking very carefully at different cuts of meat. like centimetres from their faces. for ten minutes. i'll probably end up like that guy - i probably look like that already, just my eyes are better.

this time i was looking for some basics - eggs, juice, onions, garlic, etc. i walked the asiles because i had time, and because the old folks encouraged paced shopping. meandering through, unable to find crisco for future birdmeat frying exploration, i turn the corner and notice one of the end stalls, where they put the featured special items is loaded with Sylvia's stuff - Sylvia's like the soulfood restaurant up in Harlem in New York. (i went there during Harlem Renaissance Literature class). Sylvia's split pea soup (just add smoked meat), Sylvia's kidney beans (just add smoked meat), Sylvia's soulfoul house salad dressing, and all sorts of other brands of louisiana hotsauce and fishfry batter coating mix.

this eclectic shopping moment is exciting to discover because the fruitvale safeway has the single most rundown produce section i've seen since i left swarthmore, where even the upscale couldn't hold a candle to safeway castro, let alone whole foods. maybe i'm just spoiled.

or maybe fruitvale safeway is low on the ecominded food chain - they don't get the hormone free eggs. but they do have odwalla. and sylvia's.

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