Zip-A-Dee-Dooms-Day

Here’s something I’ve learned in nearly a decade of writing a newspaper column:

You can write about politics, money, sex, crime, or little old ladies’ undergarments, and nobody flicks a tweet.

But write about the Market Basket deli workers pressing the label over the ziplock, and it’s World War III.

All I said in my column a couple weeks ago was that the deli workers shouldn’t press the label over the ziplock. Was this an end-of-the-world issue? No. Labels over ziplocks are what we call a First World problem. People in Namibia are going hungry. They have no delis. They may have no ziplock bags; I don’t know. (If they have no ziplock bags, they may be somewhat more advanced than us, environmentally speaking. But that’s another subject, for another column.)

Meanwhile, here in Ipswich, Massachusetts, it’s increasingly clear that we don’t have enough life-threatening issues, because the moment I came out against Market Basket deli-sticker ziplock suppression, all heck broke loose. It seems everyone on the North Shore has a strong opinion about the sticker over the ziplock:

  • It’s a bad idea.
  • It’s the worst idea in modern history.
  • It’s not just a bad idea; it’s a curse, with religious significance.
  • No, it’s actually a good idea.
  • It’s a necessary evil.
  • And why, or why not.
  • And if not, then what’s the alternative?

Someone who goes by “Denise R.” found me at Outsidah.com and — while professing her love — still snickered at the very idea of the column. “The reason they put the stickah on the zippah? It’s quite simple.”

(See? Snickering.)

“Because people are so petty, and try to steal cold cuts by getting two of the same and then putting them in one bag.”

Reading this, I was shocked. People try to steal cold cuts from my beloved Market Basket? I was fumbling for my pacemaker controls, twisting the knob to keep myself from going into A-fib. Okay, I don’t really wear a pacemaker; but if I did, I would have been fumbling for the controls.

“So by putting the label on the zippah,” Denise R. continued, “they are able to control the scumbags.”

Control the scumbags. It never occurred to me that any of those lovely people I see in Market Basket on an average Thursday are scumbags. Except, of course, the ones who blithely go the wrong way down the one-way aisle.

(I had just finished searching unsuccessfully for “ground cloves” when I was blocked from exiting the spice aisle by an obviously ancient woman commandeering a grocery cart. When she realized she was going the wrong way, she snarled at me: “Just be glad I’m not driving a car!”)

  • There’s apparently now a faction lobbying for the hiring of Market Basket deli police. “Achtung! Show me your liverwurst!”
  • Some folks want to eliminate the stickers entirely; otherwise who want to add stickers to everything: like hermetically sealed Lucky Charms, to keep hungry low-life shoppers from chomping handfuls of breakfast cereal as they saunter down the toilet paper aisle.
  • One reader wrote to me anonymously via WordPress, adopting the pseudonym “Free the Deli Zipper.” We may be on the cusp of revolution.
  • A guy read my column online and emailed from south Florida, growling that I should just hand the bag to the deli manager and demand that they try to open it without shredding the bag. (As if I had the courage to go up against those big burly butchers!)

Anyway, as I write these words, I confess, I’m feeling hungry. Just thinking about the Market Basket deli department makes my stomach growl. So I think I’ll take a break here, and head to the fridge….

Oh, dang.

Someone tore this bag open, some time ago.

Is honey ham supposed to be this creepy iridescent green?


Doug Brendel lives on outer Linebrook Road in Ipswich, Massachusetts, 2.6 miles from the Rowley Market Basket, 6 minutes by Chevy, a little under an hour on foot — which he would absolutely do if he ran out of Deutschmacher liverwurst and the Chevy wouldn’t start. To follow Doug, visit DougBrendel.com.

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