Local View: Rules there for a reason; please work with us


On March 21, Whole Foods Co-op announced a ban on all reusable bags and containers entering the store. This message was spread widely across town and to the co-op’s owners and customers. Nearly two months later, however, there are still bags coming in every few minutes.

On April 29, we laid down one-way aisle stickers nearly everywhere. Within a week, almost none were being followed correctly.

It would be one thing if we didn’t tell anyone about these changes and expected them to just happen. However, we did and have done so repeatedly. We have regular updates on our webpage for anything regarding COVID-19. We have signs posted everywhere for bags and one-way aisles. We have employees taking to Facebook to plead with people to please listen. Just listen to the rules we are trying to maintain.

It’s fascinating because when essential fields like health care, fire, or police ask for assistance, patience, or change, nearly everyone listens. But when it is a different essential business that roots more service (like gas stations, groceries, or fast-food places), we are largely ignored or looked at as less important.

We often get arguments over the validity of the changes. “You know what you’re doing just isn’t common sense at all,” we hear. “Your friends didn’t die of COVID-19; the whole thing is a hoax!” “Bag up my groceries, jerk! Why are you asking?!”


Imagine going to a doctor’s office and spitting this vitriol at the health care workers.

Rules are rules; that’s all. I don’t make them, but it is my job to enforce them. I just want to do my job correctly, I promise. I’m not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings or be a jerk. I just want things to go smoothly.

I wear a mask for the safety of others. If you have COVID-19, me wearing a mask barely helps me. If I have COVID-19, me wearing a mask greatly helps you. I ask if you need help bagging for your safety. The less I touch your food the better. I ask to wait in between transactions before starting because if you already set all your food down, how am I supposed to sanitize properly?

It’s been nearly two months of this fight. In that time, I have seen an average of a few hundred people a day. I’m tired. I’m stressed. I have a family at home and a baby coming. I want them safe. I want you safe. Lastly, I want me safe.

I am sorry if I am not constantly chipper and want to make small talk. I am sorry if my thanks is a bit short after organizing all your purchases and then listening to your micromanaged instructions on how to package them because suddenly you’re my boss and get to tell me how I should work. I’m sorry if I’m blunt and to the point. We don’t have a whole lot of time, and really we shouldn’t be hanging out at the grocery store anyway.

Plan ahead, please. Make a decent list and stop coming in every single day to purchase less than $15 of stuff with no mask on and with cash only. We who work at the store are begging you to listen to a few simple rules, abide by changes, and work with us instead of stepping on us. We want to get back to normal just as much as you do. The sooner we all get along and follow a couple small rule changes, the better chance we have to get a normal back.

Ryan Glenn of Duluth is a front-end clerk and cashier at Whole Foods Co-op in East Hillside. He also operates the grassroots Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights Duluth campaign.

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