How we Shop and a Life Worth Living


Sam, Manager of Frederickson's Hardward

I’m having one of those flow days where I feel tapped into the larger source of connection that’s always present, but not always noticeable.

My day started out by talking with my beloved friend Tom Brackett, colleague extraordinaire, and just stayed in that grove.  We talked about the sometimes lonely path taken by people following a call that doesn’t seem to make sense when we’re in the middle of it.  What I realized is that I can do almost anything if I have companions like Tom along the way.

A few hours later.  I walked into Fredrickson’s Hardware in San Francisco’s Cow Hollow neighborhood.  It’s one of those lovely old-fashioned stores where two cats reside on the display shelf in the window and the staff is friendly, knowledgeable and pleased to help.  I had gone in to buy a kitchen instrument to core a large quantity of apples I’m preserving for winter.  I spent a good ten minutes weighing the pros and cons of two different types of apple corers with not one, but two sales people providing advice.  Since I have a small farm with an apple tree that produces, no lie, 200 apples, I was counseled to buy the more efficient corer that also gives a clean cut.  The salesman, Sam, actually talked me out of the more expensive instrument.  Turns out Sam is the manager and he scribbled a note saying “25% off entire next purchase” on the back of his business card after I told him how important places like this are to our overly efficient and impersonal world.


At the checkout counter I was overcome with a sense that places like Fredrickson’s make life worth living.  You know, restaurants where the owner is present and takes the time to tell you about what’s on the menu that night or when I walk into my friend Doug’s grainery and he’s brimming with stories about how the wheat or rye was just milled.  Making connections like these is one of the impulses behind this wheat project – forming relationships with farmers who love what they do and simply being in their presence is life affirming.  I compare these occurrences to being in Safeway last night at the self-checkout counter where it’s all about getting out of there as quickly as possible.  Sometimes we’re faced with situations like this, but what’s a life if our daily patterns include being in places where all we want is out as soon as possible?