by Little Bobby Tucker
After working at La Montañita Co-op Food Market for almost 4 years, I quit my job last week for one simple reason. I am very disappointed in the new "leadership," because it is not leadership at all; it is a corporate mentality masquerading as a "co-op."
I worked at the Nob Hill store last week, to help out when someone was on vacation. Soon after my shift began, a woman I have never met approached me and introduced herself as Martha, the new store manager. We said "nice to meet you" to each other.
About 15 minutes later, I was pulled aside by another, very embarrassed assistant manager who said, "This is the most awkward thing I have ever been asked to do in 15 years of working here, but Martha asked me to tell you to go to the restroom to style your hair because it is flat towards the back."
I looked at him in surprise, pointed to the back of my head and said "You mean back here, where I have a huge bald spot? She does not like my bald spot?" I felt like walking out and quitting right then and there, but I did not want to screw over the other cashiers that would have to cover the next 6 hours of my shift ... so I stayed.
I went to the restroom and put the damn water in my hair and did "my best" to appease this store manager who was sitting in an office above me, literally "looking down on me" and judging the top of my head. At the end of my shift, I told my co-workers: "I do not think I will be back here anymore to help out."
I also began to understand why each day there is a group of Co-op members /owners standing outside the entrance collecting signatures for a petition to remove the new leadership, not just from this store but from the entire Co-op organization. A new CEO has taken over and has decided that people like Martha Whitman need to be running the stores to focus on "issues."
Later, I called the store and spoke to Martha. I asked her, "What exactly was the issue with my hair?" She said, "We are going for a much cleaner look now with our cashiers." I asked: "Was I unclean?" Like a true corporatist, she dodged the question and said, "It looked like your hair was kind of flat in the back."
I told her "I have a huge bald spot in the back of my head, and it is not very kind of you to bring attention to it when I came in to help cover for someone else's vacation." She tripped over her words some more, then I told her:
"What disappoints me the most was that you made someone else approach me about your perceived 'issue'. You put somebody else in a very awkward position that was totally unnecessary. You embarrassed him, and most importantly of all, you embarrassed yourself as a 'leader'. If I wanted to work for someone like you, who is focused on such meaningless things, I would go back to Whole Foods Market."
I then told her that because she unnecessarily singled me out and showed a severe lack of "leadership," I was quitting. I finished with, "Enjoy your new Co-op, Martha."
I have not missed a day of work since 1998. I have not called in sick at any job in 18 years, but even I do not want to go to work at a place where people like this new manager are rewarded with promotions, higher pay and the "power" to judge others.
It is exactly this kind of thing that has driven a wedge between the leadership and the customers/members/owners/employees. Sales are down, profits are down and I have never seen so many unhappy employees in one place since I worked for terrible management at Whole Foods Market Albuquerque.
When I voiced my feelings, I began hearing from many current and former employees that all corroborated the failures of the current leadership. If you want to learn more, visit takebackthecoop.com; if you would like to sign the petition, please do. Power to the people! Enough of this corporate mentality.
Little Bobby Tucker