Attempt at humor: Deprecating, condescending, and downright cruel

BRATTLEBORO — First, Eileen Parks [“Requiem for a Dollar Store,” Aug. 22] calls an elderly woman who was momentarily unpleasant in a grocery store a “wrinkled mass of pure uck.” Then, the employees of a small store are derided for being too helpful, and described as “pitifully stinky bums.”

I have no idea if Ms. Parks is, or is not, “one of the coolest school librarians ever,” as she's described in her bio, but I am pretty sure I wouldn't want someone with that kind of attitude toward their fellow human beings having much to do with my children or grandchildren. Or myself, for that matter.

I realize that the piece was an attempt at humor, but it is entirely possible to be amusing without being deprecating, condescending and downright cruel. It is not that I don't have a sense of humor - I spent about 20 years actually getting paid to be funny.

I am assuming that the “Route 9 Discount Store” that she refers to is the Discount Food Warehouse on Marlboro Road in West Brattleboro that closed a few weeks ago, after about a year in operation (it wasn't a “dollar store,” by the way).

Being only about a mile from our home, my husband and I shopped there at least once a week, and found the employees unfailingly pleasant, courteous, helpful, and well-groomed. I have no idea why Ms. Parks would consider them pitiful, stinky, nor bums, unless it was just for a cheap laugh at someone else's expense.

I wonder at these ordinary, hard-working people's feelings should they happen to read the article and see themselves labelled as “PSDs,” like some kind of disease or rodent.

We also enjoyed the sense of adventure and discovery that Ms. Parks describes, with the store's offerings of unusual and sometimes mysterious products from other parts of the country and around the world. I disagree with her assessment that the store was “dismal” or “creepy” or that what they offered was largely “dreck.”

Most of their stock consisted of brand-names, often high-end “boutique” labels and natural and organic products, along with the exotics, at rock-bottom prices because a can might be dented, or because the item was at, or slightly past, its expiration date, it was unsold holiday merchandise, or for no reason that we could discern.

We found it a terrific place to pick up staples, like good-quality pasta, olive oil, and pasta sauce, as well as treats like a jar of Italian balsamic strawberries, which I have seen priced at the Co-op for $19, for $2.99. Or a big gift box of delicious European cookies, retailing for $50, marked down to $10.

We miss the place and wish the best for the nice people who worked there.

I am very glad that Ms. Parks is back to shopping alone at Hannaford. For the sake of the mean old ladies, and bums, I hope they avoid her, too.

Subscribe to the newsletter for weekly updates