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“Takoma DC listserv madness”

by Prince Of Petworth June 12, 2014 at 10:55 am 59 Comments

pain sculpture

“Dear PoPville,

-Recurring thread about how much the Safeway on Piney Branch and Georgia sucks.

-One neighbor admits that, in an act of protest, he regularly walks out with a cart full of groceries without paying. But, he is willing to pay if they ever get their act together and come after him.

-All hell breaks loose:

In total frustration some time back, I got an idea.

I just walked out the Safeway front door – cart full of groceries. I loaded same into car. Then took picture of same and sent it to regional office telling them what I had done. No response.

So I did it a couple more times. No response.

Then when the Exxon Gas thing was all screwed up and after lots of shouting because Exxon Station owners did not want to go along with plan, somebody from management did call.

I told him what I had done a few times in past; just in total frustration with local store and corporate response. His response.. “OMG, don’t tell me!” That was all I’ve ever heard.

Maybe if enough of us get brave enough to commit this “crime”, things will tighten up a bit at our local store. It is a management thing…pure and simple.

Amazing, is it not?

BTW: I have kept tally and know how much I owe to Safeway. Whenever they want to collect, they know they can contact me.

If it goes more than one year, I try to donate equivalent to a local food program.

Can you believe it?

I did same at Hyattsville Home Depot. There I took things back. Response, “How did you ever walk out of this store with that chain saw?” My response, “I just did”. things have tightened up considerably.

“A voice of reason”:

Shoplifting from a private business to prove a personal point about bad management is NOT civil disobedience! Please do not put shoplifting on par with lunch counter sit-ins, freedom riders, or Gandhi sitting in the first-class rail car! Tom faced no injustice by Safeway due to his race, age, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. He just didn’t want to stand in line. His act was not part of a larger well-orchestrated movement to establish greater justice. He just wanted to get out of there quickly. I want to get out of Safeway quickly too. It’s a terrible store. But please don’t label this “civil disobedience”!

  • Jack5

    Walked out with a cart full of groceries to show them security needs to be tighter? Yeah… Right buddy.

    • Anonymous

      If anything Safeway will downsize its staff even further to make up for the losses.

      • Jack5~

        I shop at that Safeway occasionally and It’s much better than the Petworth Stinky Safeway ever was. I am amazed that I can always find parking there, and I have never had a bad shopping experience. I think the man’s complaint is ridiculous, and he’s using it as a justification for either a mental disorder or free groceries.

  • frickorfrack

    “Consumer disobedience” borne out of frustration of depersonalized customer service by soulless corporate entities.

    If “Citizens United” gave corporations status as living beings then they can stand to be civilly disobeyed.

    • Anonymous

      This is actually a legacy of Post-Financial Crisis efforts by corporations to remain profitable.
      Rather than raise prices to compensate for declining sales during the Crisis, many companies found it better to cut labor costs by increasing the amount of time customers have to wait to complete their transactions. Starbucks, McDonalds, grocery stores, Target, Wal-Mart – they all did it. They cut staff to the bone and then monetized customers’ free time. And even though the customer is frustrated by the longer waits, they still line up like sheep because they truly don’t understand what their time is worth. So long as the price never goes up.
      Same thing happened with consumer goods from P&G, Johnson & Johnson, etc. – they kept prices the same but creatively shrank the amount of product they were giving you in order to compensate for declining sales.
      And, of course, none of these trends were reversed during the Recovery. Corporations are addicted to easy profits.

      • They line up like sheep? What are they supposed to do, not buy groceries?

      • textdoc

        Re. “consumer goods from P&G, Johnson & Johnson, etc. – they kept prices the same but creatively shrank the amount of product they were giving you” — this is a longstanding (sneaky) practice, not something that began in 2008.

        • Anonymous

          Of course it is, but it really ramped up during the Financial Crisis when stock valuations were low (see the Consumerist series on the “Grocery Shrink Ray” – it was pretty hilarious). They had to keep The Street happy, so they couldn’t show a loss in spite of the worst recession in 80 years. And obviously nothing changed after the Crisis subsided.
          I work at 18th and Eye, right above the Pret a Manger and the Starbucks on that corner. It’s interesting to see the contrast in how those companies operate. The Pret will literally have 10 to 15 people working to keep the lines moving fast – 6 people on registers, 2 people cleaning/restocking the floor, 3 people making drinks simultaneously. Meanwhile, Starbucks will have one person on the register and two barristas at rush hour. Customers are often lined up out the door – 10 minutes to place your order and often another 5 to 10 minutes to get your drink. Guess which company is publicly listed?

          • Guess which company premakes everything and which one makes whatever stupid custom order you can come up with?

          • Anonymous

            Not exactly true. There’s multiple barristas at Pret making custom espresso-based drinks, just like Starbucks. I see tons of people ordering cappucinos, lattes, etc every morning. Does Starbucks offer more varieties of coffee-based drinks? Sure. But if you were in a hurry, I’m not sure why you would ever stop at SBUX. It takes forever.
            My point is that SBUX is profiting off its customers’ time. They know exactly how much money they are saving by making the customer wait one extra minute. They – and every other major retailer – have that metric and exploit it. My wait for a coffee at SBUX is significantly longer than when I got coffee with them back in 2000. It’s because they’ve cut staff to the bone.

          • oh2dc

            In re: “Guess which company premakes everything and which one makes whatever stupid custom order you can come up with?”

            Is this an argument for fewer employees or more?

          • @Anon, if you think your wait time is different than it was in 2000 simply because they cut staff then you’re blatantly ignoring their growth in popularity and product lines. If you’re just getting instant coffee at Starbucks that’s typically handled right there at the register as well. (at least in the numerous ones I’ve visited)
            @oh2dc, neither, really, it’s more that the two businesses aren’t exactly comparable. Sure, things would go slightly faster if there were more employees (or more specifically, more espresso machines), but I’m also not the type of person who expects to have my mocha-frappa-java-chino with half this and topped with that produced instantaneously.

  • HaileUnlikely

    I live up there and know both of the neighbors in question. The one who claims to regularly walk out is in his 70’s, sweet old guy, but total looney tunes. I don’t have any idea whether or not he really walks out of the store, with his stuff, without paying, though.

    The legitimate beef with Safeway, which kicked off the whole absurd discussion on the listserv, is that despite having at least 15 registers in the store, often only 3-4, sometimes even only 2, are open, even when the store is very busy and lines are very long. I have on numerous occasions gone there after work, shortly before 8 PM, grabbed a basket, got my stuff, gone to pay for it, and discovered there were only 2 lines open, each of which had at least 15 people in line. When that happens, I usually set my basket down in the front of the store, leave, get the essentials at 7-11, and go the next day to a store that respects its customers enough to open more than 2 registers when there are 30 people in line.

    • anon

      I gave up on shopping at the Safeway on Columbia Road because no matter what time of day I went in, the lines were always long.

    • Navy Yard Res

      Same story at the Safeway in Southwest. There are usually only three registers open and about a total of ten. It is annoying, but I deal with it. You can always go somewhere else. Speak with your dollars.

    • GM

      Yeah, he’s bonkers and honestly one of the reasons why the listserv is so unreadable these days.

    • Anonymous

      I’ve gotten the same deal at the Tenleytown Safeway. Usually just one or two registers open until the line gets absurdly long, then they call for help. As soon as the line becomes manageable, the help then leaves and the line instantly grows back to problematic lengths. It’s pretty clear they always need one more cashier than they have.

  • #needanewcause

    Dude may want to consult a lawyer asap. Not sure his plan to make everything right by keeping tally and promising to pay and/or donate to charity really absolves him of his crimes in the eyes of the law.

  • Doc

    I think technically this is civil disobedience. Not saying it’s a good idea, but I don’t think it’s inherently different than chaining yourself to the gate of a polluting factory.

    Two other related points:

    1) That Safeway sucks in a way that is offensive to things that suck.

    2) The Takoma listserv is populated by hippies that are bat poo crazy. If you think this is bad you should see the non-sensical arguments whenever the topic of development (Water Reed Campus, for example) comes up.

  • saf

    Why do people keep spending money at places that they hate? Go elsewhere. As long as you keep spending money there, they have no incentive to change.

    • Doc

      I think some people without cars live places that are close to everything they need to walk to.

      In this neighborhood, that Safeway is the only real grocery store within walking distance.

      Grocery shopping via bus or metro is not desireable to many people, especially the elderly.

      • Yeah, that was the case for me when I lived in Logan Circle. I went to Whole Foods primarily, but when I needed some Velveeta shells and cheese or some other crap that wasn’t organic wtfever I had to walk over to the Socialist Safeway on 17th and deal with their crap.

        • saf

          When I lived down there, ok, it was before Whole Foods, but… We walked over to the Giant at 9th and P.

          • I didn’t even know there was a Giant there, woops! But that’s also on the other side from my place which was on 14th and Corcoran.

          • saf

            Yep – the one that was rebuilt as the Giant at O.

            We were at 15th and O.

    • GM

      Portions of the neighborhood have Stockholm Syndrome when it comes to that Safeway. It was closed down for health violations last year, the produce regularly has mold growing on it, there’s often trash all over the floor (the last time I went in there, to buy a bag of ice because CVS and the 7-11 were both out, I was reminded why I’d stopped shopping there within a month of moving to the neighborhood), and yet they defend it because, “It’s not that bad” and “They mean well” and (my favorite) “They have lots of canned food with no dents in them.” Well, that’s an amazingly high bar to cross.

      After it was closed down briefly last year, a local group of neighbors decided they were going to form some sort of committee to try and get some changes made. The store manager’s response was to invite them over for a talk that had snacks and goodie bags for them. The group promptly rolled over and showed its belly, telling everyone how wonderful the Safeway was. I guess you really can be bought with a couple of cookies.

      • Unfortunately, the Georga & Piney Branch Safeway is no worse than the Silver Spring Giant. Walmart is ok, but not a full grocery store, so I can’t get everything I want. I’ve started shopping at the Harris Teeter in Laurel on the way home from work. Great store, great selection, unfortunately its not close to home.

        • HaileUnlikely

          I saw a flyer a while ago (early 2013 I think) promoting a new development at Georgia & Eastern Ave that would include some apartments and a Harris Teeter. It was discussed at one ANC meeting (ANC4A1, I think), which I was unable to attend, back in maybe May or June 2013. However, I have not been able to find any info about it since that time. Do you happen to know if that is still in the cards? I’d love to have a Harris Teeter right there.

    • AMDCer

      Well, he’s not spending money there, he’s stealing.

  • Anonymous

    Even bigger problem at this Safeway than the lines is the health issues. Maybe he should spend some time organizing the neighborhood to regularly inspect the building than stealing from the store.

  • Moon

    Would we be having this conversation if the perp was a skinny black kid with dreds, or a skinny white kid with tats? Thievery is thievery. Hope the put this fool in a cell.

    • If that person posted about it on a community listerv, yeah, we probably would.

    • jumpingjack

      This point was brought up quickly on the listserve, that he could only get away with it because he’s white.

  • ugh

    This guy wouldn’t end up in jail, he’d end up in the looney bin. Trust me, he’s not right in the head. He will absolutely LOVE seeing this on PoPville. If you’re entertained by this, just join the listserv and get a taste of his crazy babble no less than twice daily.

    • Eponymous

      Sounds a lot like the “Save McMillan Park” guy on the Brookland list.

      • Anonymous

        Yea, that guy is a complete nutter. I’m largely on the side of the Save McMillan folks, so it’s rather unfortunate to have that guy “on my side”.

  • CG

    I am embarrassed to say that I live in that neighborhood and am on that listserve. It is “moderated” by three completely insane people who let Okra Tom (that’s the guy who supposedly stole from the Safeway) just run off. Okra Tom regularly posts about a recent park that was built with native plants and flowers. It used to house homeless dudes who would throw things at passersby and attack women walking down the street from the metro. He calls it the “plant prison” … and then calls anyone who likes the park a racist. The dude is ten sheets of nuts. And unfortunately, the three idiots running the listserve just feed into the insanity. It is really embarrassing for the neighborhood.

    • Anonymous

      Most neighborhood listservs have a few crazy and prolific members. It’s just the nature of the medium.
      I get mine sent to me in digest form. Whenever a post has an inflammatory headline or millions of replies I don’t bother to read it.

    • jumpingjack

      I read it for the train wreck qualities. Don’t forget about the frequently recurring Takoma Station debate:
      “You can hear the music from four blocks away! Patrons scream on my street at 2 am and break beer bottles on my lawn!”
      “Takoma Station was here before you were, so you can’t complain!”

      • CG

        I completely forgot all about the ongoing Takoma Station debate. Right. So, you don’t want people urinating or throwing bottles in your yard and making an insane amount of noise at 2am? Well, then you’re a racist. I gotta move. Ugh.

        • jumpingjack

          The thread that can never be beat was from last fall, during the government shut down. Someone circulated a joke on the list serve: “The Washington Redskins have determined that, because their name is so offensive and horrible and disgusting, they will change their name. They will henceforth be known as The Redskins.”
          There was almost immediately a barrage of at least a half dozen people, screaming about how offensive this joke was. None of the explanations of why it was actually making fun Washington changed any of their minds. This was right after I moved to the neighborhood; I seriously questioned my decision.

          • CG

            I forgot about that. That was “awesome.” The listserve definitely makes me want to leave the neighborhood.

    • As batshit crazy as he might be, he’s still part of the neighborhood, right? And so he should be allowed to voice his opinions. As annoying as some of the anonymous comments here are, I really hate to see them get deleted. I’m all for freedom of craziness, you can always choose to ignore it. Who’s more crazy, really? The guy who doesn’t realize he’s crazy and spouts his crazy talk to others, or the ones who do and still try to convince him to change his mind regardless…

    • HaileUnlikely

      Nah, at least one of the mods is a sane, intelligent, thoughtful guy. No comment on the other two. However, it’s not the mods job to delete all of the posts that they don’t like. We get a lot of crazy stuff posted on here, too, and I happen to think The PoP does a pretty excellent job with this site.

      • CG

        I think I know the moderator you are talking about. I have friends in the neighborhood who have legitimate beefs with one of the ANCs (and that’s a completely different story). And that guy just happens to be her husband. He refuses to let anything on the listserve that is remotely critical of his wife’s “decisionmaking.” He’s a nice guy. But let’s just say he is definitely trying to un-level the playing field when it comes to her spectacular lack of ability.

  • Anonymous

    Informal poll: Which neighborhood has the craziest/most entertaining listserv?

    • Anonymous

      Friday question of the day!

    • I’ve tried 3 times, unsuccessfully, to get added to mine (the smaller immediate area one, not the larger Capitol Hill one). That’s probably a good thing for them.

      • CW

        I want to get on the larger Cap Hill listserve – where is it/how can I do it? :)

        • CW

          I found it in 2 seconds, oops. Never mind. Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    Something about Tacoma has attracted this sort of nutjob for decades.

  • BigA

    Whew- Glad I’m not the only one that is tired of the ListServ. I pretty much refuse to post on the Takoma list lest I get sucked into the vortex of insanity. It’s non-stop bickering about the most asinine things. And just when you think it’s over, they pull out their thesauruses and go for another, unintelligible round. It’s maddening.

    • Anonymous

      I feel like that’s true of any neighborhood listserv. Mine’s pretty civil (Capitol Hill) but only because the crazies tend to post on the nearby NewHillEast one that has a bigger audience.

  • Moon

    Eckington gets my vote. Last year a woman posted about her experience at a public facility that wasn’t positive. One of her neighbors said she was a cronic complainer and the madness began. Oy vey.

  • The odd thing is I have one neighbor who is super freaking inquisitive about every project we do, definitely makes me feel like we’re the frequent topic of discussion (especially since we’re one of the few couples on the blocks without kids).

  • Eponymous

    Brookland’s list is pretty nutty. There’s one lady who posts multiple times a day about the fact that trucks drive on her street (?!), there’s Save McMillan Park guy (any development is *raping* the land!), there’s a woman who seems to have a panic attack any time someone mentions the word “condo,” and there’s the guy who rails about “rampant crime” any time a mugging happens (there have been maybe a handful of those since I’ve been living there, for what it’s worth). It takes all kinds…

  • ET

    I don’t have much faith in private equity firms to “run” business but since private equity giant Cerberus Capital Management agreed to buy Safeway maybe the store managers ought to see the writing on the wall. Soon the signs my say Albertson’s and not Safeway and depending on how things to some may find themselves unemployed.


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