Trading Up at Trader Joe’s

Last week, I bought treif yogurt at Trader Joe’s. The ingredients include “kosher gelatin” but the package lacks a hasgacha. Of course, I realized this only after I purchased it. The yogurt looks exactly like the kosher kind, except that it’s blueberry flavored. I didn’t realize that along with the blueberries came a lack of koshrus supervision.

So there I was, with treif yogurt and dread in my heart. I haven’t returned any groceries in three years. The last time I did so was when I bought spoiled milk – not from Trader Joe’s. I bought the milk on Sunday and had it, with cereal, for breakfast on Monday. It was so rotten I dumped the cereal and went to work hungry. It was a long week at work and I finally managed to return to the grocery store on Friday. The manager laughed at me when I tried to return the milk.

“Of course it’s bad!” he told me. “You bought it Sunday.”
I argued that it was bad on Sunday.
He told me I should have called the store as soon as I discovered a problem.
I told him that was unreasonable. And glared.
He refused to give me a refund. But he did graciously allow me to take a replacement carton of milk.

I never bought milk there again. Nor have I tried to return any food any where.

But this was Trader Joe’s. So I went in, armed with the treif yogurt, my receipt, and sorry story. Turns out I only needed the yogurt.

On my way to the register, I picked up a pack of kosher yogurt, hoping they’d allow me to exchange. Then I steeled myself for confrontation. My cashier greeted me, as always, with joy. I explained that I wanted to exchange yogurts. He asked, concerned, if anything was wrong with the ones I’d purchased. I told him I’d just made a mistake, leaving out the mental anguish the accident had caused me. There was no need to put a damper on his day. He called over a manager to boot up the check-out as he and I discussed the higher price of the kosher yogurts for which I was exchanging.

The manager turned a key, the cashier handed me my kosher yogurts, and they wished me a good day.
“But how much do I owe?” I asked.
“Oh, nothing,” said the cashier.
“But,” I explained, slowly and clearly, “this is more expensive than the ones I bought.”
“Yes,” agreed the cashier with a smile. “That’s fine. Have a great day!”
I wished him, and the entire Trader Joe’s empire, the same.

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