By Delbert H. Rhodes, Op-Ed
Is Adams a Rotten Apple?
I have shopped at Adams Fairacre Farms Newburgh, New York for more than one year and on three different occasions I experience threats to my character and reputation.
I feel/believe that personnel at AFF targeted and attempted to develop a criminal profile of me. I believe and feel that I suffered racial profiling by store personnel. I have never suffered such mistreatment and am highly offended.
1. Late Summer/early Autumn 2014: While comparing raw honey for selection I sense someone watching me. After selecting the honey and prior to walking away, I observe that a male employee seems quite concerned about my activities.
2. On, or, about Saturday, 25 October 2014: I secure my groceries at a checkout counter; I ask the Clerk to “…put that in there….” referring to bottled milk and into which bag to put it. From over my right shoulder (the isle) a woman’s voice says, “He told me to put this money in his bag.” If memory properly serves me, she iterates the comment. The Clerk immediately responds, “He told me to put the “milk” in his bag.”
Before looking to see who the person is or what exactly she intends, I continue to secure my goods. Looking to my right, a young woman at the end of the checkout stand holds multiple bricks of money in her hands. Unaware of how the confused person believes that I spoke to her, I resume my checkout. Staring and without verbal reply, including, “I am sorry, Sir,” soon the woman departs. (During the entire occasion, Management remained absent.)
3. Saturday 08, November 2014: Once more, I encounter a problem at a checkout stand.
Arriving at checkout, I flow with one customer as she checks out her groceries. A female Supervisor sits to the left in the isle. Before I load my goods upon the counter/belt, the Supervisor now stands in the isle at the end of the checkout stand. As the Clerk serves the customer in front of me, loudly, the Supervisor announces “I’m “so-o hungry,” she iterates, and then reiterates the comment and then walks away.
The Clerk now scans my goods, I notice that my bag of Kale (two bunches) lies at the end of the belt. I ask the Clerk whether she has cleared the bag of Kale, she answers, “Yes.” I place one bottle of milk inside the bag of Kale and then place the bag inside my cart.
As I continue to secure my articles, positioned near me, I observe a male Manager stands at the end of the checkout counter. He stares at something near the register; following his stare, I observe a screen but am unable to make sense of its display. The Manager utters something about Kale while staring. He makes no eye contact with me and offers zero information about the (apparent) issue, such as, “Excuse me, Sir, but I think that your Kale was improperly priced, by the Clerk.”
Naturally, I, now, realize that the previous theatrical display by the isle Supervisor actually was an alarm to alert store Security or other of an issue at my location, my purchases and me. Unless the isle Supervisor simply randomly selected me for inspection, she previously knew of the number of Kale in the plastic bag, furthering my belief that whenever in the store I am always watched.
Earlier: As I regarded Bananas for selection, a stranger, White man, rushes into the store and directly to me with conversation, about the day and weather…really? Moreover, unless the Supervisor had reason to identify me suspiciously, criminally, why could she not have quietly come to the checkout stand to advise the Clerk (female) that she should carefully inspect the bags and enclosed articles. The young woman was new in the store.
Ironically, and notwithstanding what appeared as Mexican men working in Produce and one young Black male in the Bakery, she was the first Black or Hispanic Black Clerk observed by me, since I began shopping at AFF.
No; it is my belief that the administrative staff maliciously targeted me with intimidation, in order that I discontinue my shopping at Adams Fairacre Farms, Newburgh, N. Y— I wonder why. Also and although it had been many minutes since the Supervisor’s alert, the male Manager never arrived before the Kale was actually in my possession.
Loudly, sternly: The Manager begins a blisteringly verbal session while looking, only, at the Clerk. His voice is intensely loud, so much so that it hurt my ears; and possibly, other customers in the store. For, certainly, he intended that everyone was attentive to the event. Afterwards: “How many Kale in the bag?” The Manager never clearly addressed me, he never connected with me eye to eye, to my memory. His question might have been to anyone on the line, behind me, or, at other Checkouts stands. Still, I decided neither to become abrasive nor argumentative; and thereby, permitted the Manager to do his job. Removing the Kale from the bag, I reply, “Two.” “Did you charge him for two?” He harshly stares at the Clerk. “No.” Answers the Clerk. “Charge him for two,” the Manager loudly and sternly says. Without addressing me, he walks away.
The Manager fails to arrest my, possible, discomforts and concerns, he offers no assurances of simple-error. In my presence the Clerk receives no instructions regarding her responsibilities, her techniques, and her lack of prudent inspections. Seemingly, “I” am the target.
In the store: I do everything in plain sight, my groceries gliding along the belt are discrete and easily seen. Why then appear to regard me negatively, criminally, as though I am a thief?
Should I not place multiple bunches of Kale into a bag; and what of fruits, fresh green-string-beans, nuts and other groceries? I purchased many of these items, and are some not priced according to weight; and if so, then why could both items of Kale not be properly scanned or weighed? Am I the Customer responsible to direct the checkout Clerk in her duties?
Strangely, the two bunches of Kale were neither properly scanned nor weighed but apparently the nuts were? Why was I not directed to spill out the nuts onto the counter so as to properly count them, assuring proper pricing at $3.99 per pound? Is the problem volume per bag? Perhaps signs instructing that only one parcel per bag is permissible? Filling bags with singular nuts, beans, or other goods demands many, many bags. Should AFF reconsider use of all bags prior to payment? Could the new policy help to prevent embarrassing, unnecessary incidents-probably.
Smiling, I engage the Clerk, assure proper payment, and then say goodbye. Once again, I exit the store perplexed, insulted-slightly angry. I remain perplexed, insulted-slightly angry. I am an honest person-not criminal-not guilty.
Are other Adams Fairacre Farms Customers treated in this fashion? My landlord drives a Taxi, some of his Customers, he says, make complaints similar to mine about the store. “…They said they won’t go there anymore….” Accordingly, his Customers complain, “They make me feel uncomfortable.”
I know the feeling.
Adams Fairacre Farms: I feel no longer welcomed; I have articles for deposit to return and then-“we are done.”
1/2: Saturday 11, 15 2014 : I return three empty bottles of Ronnie Farms low pasteurized non-homogenized milk. A young woman at Customer Service assists me; the bottles are in an Adams Fairacre Farms bag, as I began to open the bag to remove the bottles, “You don’t have to open it,” she says. “Yeah, just in case.” I respond. “I don’t want any problems.” I continue. The woman expedites the deposit-return, and then presents me with four dollars and fifty cents and a receipt. I secure the receipt as I exit the store-just in case.
(Without seeing the bottles how could the woman know that the bottles are authorized-as with the checkout clerk, her error my problem.)
Here again, the improper procedure of a store employee could have corrupted an otherwise honest process; possibly, delivering me into the biased hands of Management, maybe the Police.
Could my senses, feelings and beliefs be incorrect? Yes; still, I cannot ignore recurring situations, incidents placing me into negative, potentially criminal scrutiny. I feel that one day my shopping at AFF would end with me in handcuffs, arrested by the Police. I have no criminal record, and as a law-abiding citizen and ex-Police Officer criminality greatly offends me.
A Police Officer detaining, arresting someone, by law, explains the reason (s) for the stop/arrest. Store Customers too deserve respect from store personnel whenever issues, retail, other, arise. My ignorance of the Manager’s thinking reduced me to unprofessional negation. “The Customer is “always” right,” I felt quite “wrong”-ed.
Regarding the accusation about the money, decades ago, Black people and especially men, were wrongly accused of stealing, and or, staring at and raping White women and for such offenses hanged or imprisoned. The outcry “The Nigger did it” incited White men to engage the hunt.
Decades ago, and in a locality of my hometown in Florida, an entire town of Black people suffered murderous slaughter by a group of White vigilantes hunting for an accused Black thief. Shielding the actual thief, a local White woman said that a Black man had stolen her money, the town’s men (White) hunted the man and hanged the first Black man they encountered. The actual thief and domestic violator, the woman’s husband.
In addition to total destruction of properties, at least one hundred and fifty Black people were murdered for a crime never committed by any Black man. The accusation made by the White store employee could have caused me great harm and death during earlier times, and possibly, involvement with law enforcement, nowadays.
Strangely, the Manager seated in the isle who loudly cried out an alert, apparently, about my Kale, failed to step in, or, even provide another earsplitting wail about the claim that I told an employee to put AFF’s money into my bag.
Was the employee directed to make the accusation against me, I believe that she was. Does Adams Fairacre Farms racially profile Black people, intimidate them, in order that they discontinue shopping at the store, I believe this is true.
Again, could my interpretations of these events and why they occurred to me be incorrect, yes; and could my interpretations and reasoning be correct, yes.
The mathematical inverse of 1/2 is 2/1. The loss of one Customer may translate into higher multiples-increased losses in revenue (x: $?): 1x<—-4x—-8x——>.
Normally, I shopped at Adams Fairacre Farms, Newburgh, N. Y. on Saturdays, after leaving the Gym (Planet Fitness), on North Plank Road. During my entire experiences, and including the Clerk and young man in the Bakery, I encountered, maybe, four, or, five other Black people in the store. I never shopped at the same time each weekend.
The City of Newburgh hosts a large Black community, therefore, their absences in AFF were not only noticeable; but, curious.
Could losses of certain Customers be gains for Adams Fairacre Farms, Newburgh?
I think, yes.
Recommendations: Personnel Training
A. Increase knowledge of store protocols
1) Improve investigative processes impacting the store and Customers
2) Incorporate sensitivity training
a) Elevate degrees of awareness of Customer concerns
3) Increase job proficiency
4) Schedule quarterly-annual training sessions for store personnel
5) Welcome every Customer
6) Treat all Customers with respect
Further: If, for whatever reasons, my presence and business were not desirable at Adams Fairacre Farms, Newburgh, N. Y. and or, any of its locations, within about one month, the fact would have naturally occurred. In November 30, 2014, I exited the State Of New York, permanently, and as scheduled.
Note: I am retired and my desire to leave the horrid winters of New York was strong; additionally, I cared not to travel from my new location into New York, for Court Cases. These were the only reasons that I declined bringing Suit against Adams Fairacre Farms, Newburgh, N. Y. and its Personnel.
Copyright © 2014-2015 Delbert H. Rhodes