Dear ALDI Corporate

Dear ALDI Corporate,

Last weekend I was sick. The usual suspects reported- Coughing, Runny Nose, Fever, Aching. I think you know what I'm talking about. While I was laying on the couch, bleary-eyed and slack-jawed with one hand on the TV remote and the other clutching a thick blanket to my huddled body, I had a craving. It was a strange craving, and I had to lift my face from its smooshy resting place in the hollow of a giant pillow to properly analyse the compunction that had come stealing over me. As my face began to resume its normal shape I realized that what I craved was ALDI generic brand grapefruit juice. Indeed, all the brands at ALDI are generic, but the grapefruit juice is different. The grapefruit juice is the only thing in the entire store that doesn't absolutely suck.

I remember the fateful day when an ALDI grocery store first opened up in our hometown. I was about five or so. My mom started shopping there on a regular basis and I started learning to hate food. To this day I can't eat mayonnaise, margarine, candied peanuts, cream of mushroom soup, tomato soup, American cheese or canned tuna without gagging. The memory of the ALDI snotty sludge version of these products that my mother forced me to choke down as a child is still too strong. A serial child rapist opening the door for an old woman at a 7-Eleven could hardly be considered redemptive, but ALDI does have one innocent amongst its gang of gastronomical perversions: the grapefruit juice.

I cleared the pile of crumpled up tissues from my lap and considered the prospect of getting dressed. It didn't seem very realistic. ALDI is only three blocks from my house, so I made sure my boxers were firmly affixed, put on a bathrobe and a pair of flip flops, and got into the car.

Fortunately I had a bottle of grapefruit juice in hand before I was asked to leave the premises by ALDI employees. I agreed, on the condition that they allowed me to buy the juice, and since I was already holding the juice in my hand and had made it halfway back up to the register, I was able to make the convincing argument that I would have to walk through the front door anyway in order to "leave the premises," so they might as well ring me up on the way out. Outside in the car, I opened the bottle and enjoyed the fruit of my labors.

Typically, people get angry about something, and then they "count to ten," look at the situation from the viewpoint of the other party, put things into perspective, and generally settle down as they realize that what ever it was wasn't really a big deal in the larger scheme of things after all. I had the opposite experience. As I sat in my car and sipped grapefruit juice, I became increasingly annoyed by the fact that I had been asked to leave, and more and more angry about the hypocrisy of what is considered "decent" or "indecent" with regards to clothing.

Here is a picture portraying what I looked like on the day of what I will henceforth refer to as "The Incident." I tried to find a picture that was as accurate as possible, especially with regards to the cut of the bathrobe. The model is also fairly representative of how I looked on that day, but please keep in mind that I was sick at the time, and normally appear healthier and more handsome than the Brazilian model in this picture portrays.

Please be aware that I was of course wearing flip flops. Now we can see here that I was covered entirely from below the knees to the top of the chest, and from wrist to shoulder on both arms. Unfortunately I now forget the exact terminology used by the ALDI employees that confronted me on the day of The Incident, but it was something to the effect that I was "not dressed." As you can see, the only parts of me not dressed during The Incident were my hands, calves and head. If by "not dressed" your employees actually meant "not dressed in the CORRECT MANNER," then I'd like to know where your employees get off telling people what style of clothes they should or should not be wearing.

And for the love of God, this is an ALDI. it's not like I was trying to crash the royal wedding in a bikini thong and a smoking jacket. ALDI is the most disgusting, most repulsive grocery store on the planet. It makes Wal-Mart look like Louis Vuitton by comparison. Standing in line at ALDI makes you wonder why Big Lots doesn't have a location on 5th Avenue. ALDI doesn't have shelves- just rows of pallets in a big room. ALDI doesn't provide grocery bags- you have to wait for them to bring out the old boxes that the groceries originally came in on a pallet jack, and then you root through the cardboard debris. When I was kid in the nineties, ALDI still wasn't using bar codes. The cashiers had to memorize the prices of all five hundred items, or look them up in a book. Your store is like a make-shift emergency supply depot set up in someone's front yard to provide disaster relief after a hurricane or something. It's the grocery store equivalent to those UN trucks that drive from village to village in Ethiopia during a famine and throw 50 lb. sacks of rice out the back. ALDI is the only store where you walk through the front door and immediately feel that looting would somehow be acceptable here.

But it's the dress code hypocrisy that really eats at me. People of Walmart has dedicated an entire website to showing us that people shop in disgusting and/or revealing outfits all the time.

I don't see either of these two ladies being asked to "leave the premises." Oh, I know what you're thinking- of course there's a double standard for women who want to dress like cock-starved professional whores who ran out of crack two days ago. It's just a sad-but-true fact of life.

Is that the reason this woman is considered "dressed" and has been deemed appropriately attired to walk around in a retail environment? Is it because no one would ever dream of telling this beauty that she can't show off as much skin as she wants to? I'll answer this little rhetorical question myself. No. It isn't. It's because ALDI and the rest of society unfairly discriminate against the bathrobe.

Well I dream of a different world; a fairer, juster world; a world in which a garment is judged, not by its name or original intended usage, but by the cut of the cloth and the parts of the body it does or does not cover! I dream of a brighter tomorrow, a tomorrow in which every man and woman is free to choose the style and category of clothing he or she wishes to wear while shopping, and can make that decision based upon the logic of decency and sound judgment, not based upon the fear of discrimination, or of being cast out into the cold dark night because of the arbitrary judgments of any retail employee who sets him or herself forward as an arbiter of fashion.

You and the rest of the ALDI corporation should be ashamed of yourselves. Not just for hassling an innocent man who wanted to buy grapefruit juice, oh no; but also for the people your arbitrary clothing guidelines have indirectly hurt.

I don't just speak for myself. I speak for the dear old woman who had to stand in line behind a man wearing poo-stained daisy dukes, a mullet, and a Dale Earnhardt jacket. I'm standing up in defense of those who can't defend themselves- the young child that was forced to bear witness to a four hundred pound woman wearing a tube top. The innocent mother who accidentally caught a one-two, eye-pounding combo comprised of a sequined thong paired with a lower back tattoo that read "Cum Dumpster." These are the real victims. These are the people you throw under the bus every day while your employees are busy escorting classy bathrobe wearers off the premises.

That's a sketch of me on the right, or bathrobe wearer (B) if you will. I was talking to my good friend Mr. Rutherford (A) about the current situation in Iran while this picture was being drawn. Mr. Rutherford was arguing for immediate multilateral UN intervention in Iran. While I agree with Mr. Rutherford that the removal of Ahmadinejad and the super structure behind him from power in Iran would probably lead to a more stable Middle East, I firmly hold that the probabilities for a successful transition to democratic rule are much higher if the Iranian people themselves initiate the regime change.

I had a shirt, of sorts. I had shoes, kind of. I demand service. Reconsider your customer clothing policies, ALDI. Do it for justice, and do it for the children.

Sebastian Braff

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