Thursday, December 11, 2008

Fighting My Way Out of a Plastic Bag

Nathan has had similar experiences to what happened to us at the grocery store last night, so I know he’ll understand where I’m coming from.

Last night Brandi and I went to the grocery store. We went to do what my parents would refer to as a BIG SHOP, meaning we haven’t been to the grocery store in a long time and we needed a lot of stuff. This is the way we typically shop, we’ll get the things that we need for about three weeks to a month and then go out as needed for bread or milk or little things we might run out of in the mean time.

So here we are, ready to check out last night with a full cart. Of course there’s only three registers open with actual cashiers at nine thirty on a Wednesday night. There were self-check outs open but I really don’t like using those if I don’t have to and I never use them for big orders or when I have produce that has to be weighed and have some kind of code put in. Plus, I’d rather conduct my transaction with a person instead of a computer.

So we pulled into the line that seemed like it would get us to the front first and we ended up filling the entire conveyor belt with our order. A couple people decided to not get into line behind us because of this.

Our cashier was this nice lady in her early fifties and she started scanning everything for us. We shop at Meijer for our BIG SHOPS and at these stores, the cashier is also the bagger. First on the conveyor belt was a box of diapers and then a couple 12-packs of generic diet cherry pop. She asked me if I could lift the pop off the conveyor since she couldn’t lift heavy things. No problem. Until there was a problem.

First of all, let me say that we were in a little bit of a hurry. Logan was up and running around before bed so we let him stay up a little past his normal bed time and thus got a late start going to the store. Then there was a show on at ten that we wanted to catch and at this point we were just trying to get home to see as much of it as we could.

The problem, you see, was that one of the cases of pop had a rip at the back. The nice cashier saw this and asked if we wanted some tape or something. Figuring at the very least she’d have some stickers at her register, I said sure. It was a nice offer after all. Well, she didn’t have any stickers, or tape, or anything adhesive at all. So she proceeded to go on a scavenger hunt for something and ended up finding some Scotch permanent double-sided tape at the fourth register she went to (what? I used to work at OfficeMax. I know tape. Don’t look at me like that.)

“I don’t know why this tape is sticky on both sides,” she said. “Isn’t that something.” She demonstrated the stickiness and invited me to do the same. Knowing just how sticky the tape is I did not need to test its adhesive properties, but I did so anyway to move things along. She insisted on putting three more pieces of tape on the box than was required, and I had to take the box away for fear that I would not be able to get to the precious, carbonated, and more importantly, caffeinated beverage inside.

Then came the more time consuming part, the part akin to Nathan’s experience if you were paying attention in the beginning. She was double-bagging everything. Every parcel that came away from her station was wrapped up like the boy in the bubble. When I saw what was happening, I had to tell her thanks, but no thanks.

Me upon seeing the double-bag-ishness of the cashier: “Oh, that’s ok, you really don’t have to double bag.”

Cashier: “I would hate for them to split open.” Puts a jar of jelly in the bag. “And this one has glass in it. You wouldn’t want the bag to split open and the glass to break.”

Me: “I appreciate it, really, but it’s a very short distance from my car to the house…”

Cashier: “It’s been a bad day for bags. I’ve had some bad luck with them today, and I would hate for one to split open.”

She wouldn’t take no for an answer. Then I noticed that not only was she double bagging everything, but she was tying the handles of the first bag together after she placed it into the second bag. This was also not necessary and not only added a step in the whole purchasing groceries process, but added a step in the getting the groceries out of the bag and put away process. Although I suppose if the outer bag did rip, then all of my items would crash to the ground in one consolidated meteor of food products, instead of spilling out in multiple places. I’m still trying to decide if this is a good thing or not.

As I picked up the double-bagged, handle-tied groceries and put them in the cart, I could see why she was having a problem with bags yesterday. She was loading those bags with as much stuff as they would fit to the point where the weight of the items would be enough to split the bag open. Maybe, by distributing the items more easily throughout a few more bags she could have 1) saved more bags in the long run and 2) reduced or eliminated the risk of a bag break.

When all was said and done though, she did thank us for our patience and scan in an extra coupon that was in the flyer but we didn’t have or know about. We wished her a good night and went on our way.

When everything was unpacked, we had enough plastic bags to fill another plastic bag, which I think will all go to Brandi’s grandmother to use when she takes the dog for a walk.


Some dude stuck in the Midwest said...

The plastics make excellent pooper-scoopers. Plus some of the stores, Dominicks for sure, take the bags back and recycle them.

Nathan said...

It's a damned conspiracy is what it is!

Note: I use at least one plastic bag per day for cleaning the kitties' litter box and I've never come close to using up all the bags under the sink.

mattw said...

If we end up having too many, and the grandmother-in-law doesn't need them, I'll either take them to the library or one of the local supermarkets to recycle.

Eric said...

I use 'em to take my lunch to work.

I actually like having everything bagged up because it makes it easier to get everything upstairs in my condo, even if the packaging already has a handle. But that's just me.

MWT said...

I used to use them to take my lunch to work, until I discovered Pizza Hut gives out their food in paper bags with sturdy handles.

Unrelated to the above: the nearest recycling center takes plastic, but not plastic bags. T.T So I have to drive them to the one across town to get rid of them.

Also unrelated to either of the above: did you manage to catch any of your show?

mattw said...

Eric, I wouldn't say no to the bags. It was just that she had to double-bag everything. If she would have packed them a little lighter, she could have saved the use of some bags, as well as the time it took to double-bag and tie off the handles of the first bag.

MWT, we got home at about 10:10 and I let Brandi watch the show (Ghost Hunters) while I put away the groceries. I ended up seeing about the last ten minutes worth, but she got to see most of it, so that's ok.