A weekend outing to purchase large quantities of party snacks and cleaning supplies turned into an afternoon of shame for a local food writer who went overboard on the free samples. When Nashville Scene food critic Carrington Fox reached for her third taste of smoked salmon on a cracker at the new Costco in West Nashville, she was harshly rebuked by the sample-serving associate.
"These are so good," Fox said as she idly reached for a water biscuit with a ribbon of pink fish draped seductively over the top. Impervious to Fox's flattery, the associate replied curtly, "I can't let you have any more."
A red-faced Fox, already having touched the cracker, weighed the awkward choice of replacing it behind the sneeze guard or chomping it in the woman's face, letting fly a defiant spray of cracker shards and vitriol. Instead, Fox nimbly diverted the snack from her own mouth toward her toddler son strapped in her grocery cart. "I was just getting it for my baby," she said, sheepishly wheeling the child toward the mini chicken tacos. "I wasn't sure whether she meant she couldn't let me have that cracker, or a fourth one, but either way I figured I better get my kids the hell out of there," Fox later explained.
Witnesses to the scene reacted with a mixture of empathy and judgment. "It was an appalling show of consumer greed," said Ellen Nelson, marketing director for a local liquor distributor who was shopping for oversize bags of pet chow. "Her family should be ashamed."
But in fact, Fox's mother, Sandy Nelson, met a similar fate only minutes later. Nelson, 65, had been discussing the merits of a particular triple-cream cheese on sale for $10 a pound, when she absent-mindedly reached for another cracker. "I just love this salmon," she said to the plastic-gloved clerk. "Well, savor it, because I might not..." the clerk began before Nelson left her hanging mid-reprimand.
"I knew where she was going," Nelson said, "and I didn't let her finish. I went over to talk to my niece, who was buying huge bags of food for her dogs and cats."
When questioned later about the event, Nashville Scene editor and Costco member Liz Garrigan said, "Sure, Fox was being greedy. But she's a thorough journalist who takes eating seriously. That's why we hired her. I do have concerns, however, about her reluctance to try the store's four-bean salad, but that's a personnel issue and I can't say any more than that."