THIS IS NOT SELF-SERVICESassafras Literary Magazine 2013
The Fruit Corner, a greengrocer’s store, occupies the same spot in New Haven since the Amato family first opened it some forty years ago. The current proprietors are third generation Amato greengrocers. However, unlike greengrocer stores throughout the world, and especially the east coast, The Fruit Corner does not put their wares on display outside the store. They are also not given to window displays.
Inside, signs are posted around the store: This is not self-service!
Ask for help!
Do not touch the produce!
To make a purchase, the customer stands in front of the desired fruit or vegetable and the Amato on duty asks questions in a tone more suited to a clinic than a grocery— “What day do you plan to eat this?” — “Do you like your plums soft or hard?” — “Is this going into a salad or will it be served whole?” The Amato then makes the selection accordingly. Time could be saved if each customer were given a clipboard and form to fill out upon entering the store—perhaps the next generation.
Many people over the years have reached to pick up an apple or peach only to be yelled at from across the store. “The signs! Don’t touch! Read the signs!”
When I was in high school I worked at The Fruit Corner but I was not allowed to touch any wrapped food. I moved boxes into coolers, out of coolers, carried bags to cars, swept up, made deliveries, and touched young Mrs. Amato—and she me, in the back room, while the rest of the Amato family was busy keeping watch on their precious produce.