What’s with those people who refuse to bag their own groceries? Don’t even pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. These days most grocery stores employ specialists, known as baggers, to stand at the end of the checkout counter and put your groceries into bags. In addition to bagging groceries, baggers are expected to escort customers into the parking lot and assist with the loading of bagged groceries into cars. On the way back to the store, the prudent bagger will scan the parking lot for errant grocery carts, collect and return them to their rightful resting place, usually by the store entrance. As much as I admire a strong work ethic, when a prudent bagger undertakes these secondary responsibilities (and particularly on a pleasant sunny day) it often leads to the no-bagger-at-the-checkout situation. This state of affairs is especially problematic when the customer next in line happens to abide by the you-won’t catch-me-bagging-my-own-groceries-it’s-not-my-job philosophy. Come on, people! It’s not like there’s a bagger’s union. Your attitude depicts the inevitable decline and degeneration of society. Quit being so lazy! Bag your own groceries for Pete’s sake. Why, I ask you, am I always stuck in line right behind one of these types? Why is it I never land behind someone, say, like ME! I embrace, no actually I prefer bagging my own groceries.
I’m one of those people who deliberately puts her groceries onto the conveyor belt in the order in which I will ultimately remove them from the bags and put them away at home. In order for this to happen, the groceries must be put into the bags in the order in which they come down the conveyor belt. Make sense? It’s like a choreographed dance routine. One missed step and it throws the whole thing off. This is a critical factor to consider in selecting a checkout line. I will choose a spot in a longer line over a shorter line any day of the week if I can predict that by the time I reach the cashier I will be in a no-bagger-at-the-checkout situation. I typically rely on the every other person method of calculation. Every once in a while, however, there will be one of those “oh, no, don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine on my own, but thanks for asking,” martyr types in line who declines the bagger’s offer for an escort to the parking lot. There’s simply no accounting for a kink like that and it catapults me into a tailspin. It is at this point that I begin to become anxious. Please Mr. Bagger, do not get creative with your bagging. Do not come up with innovative ways to squeeze my items into bags based on anything other than my own logic. I have a certain way I like things done, thank you very much. That is why I very deliberately placed each item on the conveyor belt. It’s not random! Why are you making this harder than it has to be? As it slides down the pike just grab it and stick it in the bag and stop waiting for that one item that you think belongs with this stuff over here! JUST PUT IT IN THE BAG!
Grocery shopping hasn’t always been so stressful for me. Years ago, before the days of politically correct, gender neutrality, I once had a bag boy (bagger by today’s standard) who went far beyond his call of duty. I will never forget this young man and the steadfastness with which he guarded my groceries as he waited for me to pull my car up to the loading zone. It was a rather large grocery order, which I had requested be packed into paper bags (of course, now I bring my own eco-friendly re-usable grocery bags with me). As the bag boy and I approached the store exit, we noticed that the weather had turned miserable. It was raining heavily and thundering and lightening. He suggested that I drive my car up to the loading zone rather than risk soaking my groceries, and so I left him standing with my cart and made a mad dash to my car. I unlocked the car, hopped in, started her up and proceeded to drive home. Boy was it pouring. I pulled up to my apartment building and contemplated the best way to get my groceries inside when it hit me. I left my groceries at the store! OH MY GOSH! I did the only thing I could do and sped back to the grocery store. I pulled up to the loading zone, never expecting to find my groceries still waiting for me, and yet, there they were! I popped open the hatch back and sheepishly skulked around to the back of the car while the bag boy feverishly transferred the bags from cart to car with expert precision. As he shut the hatch, I mumbled in embarrassment and tried to shove a few neatly folded dollar bills into his hand as an extra token of gratitude.
“Thank you for waiting…”
“Oh, no, ma’am. We’re not allowed to accept tips, but you sure did park far away.”
“Yes,” I said. “Yes I did.”