Laying Out the ‘Sweet’ Facts
Jim Chase is wishing a pox on the wrong house. It wasn’t the bakers union that caused the demise of the Hostess products he so loves. Union workers have been giving back benefits and accepting less pay for years while the company struggled with poor management. Meanwhile the executives gave themselves huge raises and raided the pension funds of their hardworking employees. The whole sordid story is outlined in Michael Hiltzik’s column in the Nov. 25 L.A. Times Business section.

It’s likely some other company with better management will acquire the Hostess name and continue producing the well-known high calorie treats Chase mourns. I hope they hire back the good workers who lost their jobs due to incompetent leadership and corporate greed. It’s a shame Chase in his ignorance of the facts heaps insult on top of injury.
Sharon Weisman

Disappointed at Vons
On a Sunday afternoon, my teenage son and I stopped off at the Vons at Foothill and Pennsylvania for a quick groceries trip. After paying and heading out, I was half way to my car in the parking lot when I heard someone calling from behind me.

“Lemme see your receipt.”

I stopped and turned around to see a young man facing me in a black sweatshirt and no other identification. He aggressively repeated, “Lemme see your receipt.”

It was a moment frozen in time. I didn’t know who this kid was, had never seen him before, and had no reason to believe he worked for the store. His words said, “Lemme see your receipt” but his tone said, “Give me your wallet.”

Letting him near, I had no idea what he was going to do. I was with my son; my first instinct had to be preservation.

I said, “No. Stay away.”

His reaction was more aggressive. Quite a bit so. I imagine that he was assuming we would flee [as] he grabbed the bag in my son’s hand and held on.

I leapt in, pulled my son and the bag away and backed off. I was furious beyond the point of any ability to speak at that point.

His next comment, “Want me to call the police?”

Choking, I was about to respond with a “Yes” when a young woman ran up to us from the store, calling out, “Come back to the store.” Her tone was different, concerned about what was going on, but at the same time she wore no identification either.

My next response, finally, “So you work for the store?” With a smirk the young man pulled a Vons ID of some sort from under his sweatshirt.

The four of us walked back to the store entrance where I started to look through my bags, searching for the “alleged” receipt. The young man, continuing his aggressive tone, said, “So no receipt then.”

It was everything I could do to bite my tongue at that moment; instead I handed him the receipt out of hiding in my last bag. He gave it a long, detailed look, and handed it a back to me with a cursory, “You’re fine.”

Fuming, simply wanting to get home, I left. I was certainly not fine.

At home I called the store and talked to the floor manager who spoke of some kind of “last defense” or some such policy at the store, as if treating a patron like a criminal is just “fine” as long as it is part of store policy. “I’m sorry” was not part of his response, at least not that I can now recall, not with any sincerity. I railed, I cursed, I made it clear I would not step in that store again, and I hung up.

I thought at that point I could put it behind me.
I couldn’t. I slept poorly, stepping through the events in my mind several times over, thinking about the things I did wrong. I should have asked for his ID up front. I should have asked for the names of both of them. I should have gone straight to the manager.

But in the fundamentals of my response, I can only see that I acted correctly, taking a defensive posture and standing my ground when an aggressive stranger approached me and my son.

At the end of the day, maybe this can all be chalked up to a poorly trained employee and a jumpy patron. But I don’t feel like that’s the case. I don’t see how this young man could have ever felt justified to act with such aggression, and in such an accusatory manner, without at least the implication from management that this was acceptable behavior. It feels more like this business has chosen business assets (and fear of their theft) over the community at large, and at some point along the way has lost its respect for the customers that are its livelihood.

Daniel Allard