Let me begin by saying that I gave in to the pressure. The environmentalists shamed me into buying some of those reusable shopping bags to use on my weekly trek to Wal-Mart, Publix and New Leaf Market to buy groceries. I don’t have the cool, expensive canvas ones, though. I have the plasticky ones they sell in the supermarkets.
Anyway, I found that I actually like using them. Forget the environment: I can jam a week’s worth of groceries into four of them and they don’t suddenly sprout holes or broken handles on the way from the car to the house and dump my eggs and strawberries all over the ground in a mushy mess.
However, having worked as a grocery store cashier for two years in college, I would never subject a poor cashier to having to both ringing groceries and trying to pack those bags that just will not stand up straight without being held. Also, I’m kinda picky about how my groceries are packed. So I just do it myself.
This is rarely a problem. Most cashiers are outwardly grateful. Some don’t say anything, but I know what they’re thinking.
Anyway, when I get to a line, I try to get my groceries on the belt as quickly as possible so that I can get up to the front and inform the cashier of my intention to use the bags and pack them myself before he or she starts ringing. This requires a plastic divider so that I don’t have to wait for the belt to move two feet in order to leave sufficient space between my groceries and those of the customer before me.
Last week, I came across a line with no divider, so I snatched one from a closed aisle. When my groceries reached the front of the belt, the cashier took the divider and threw it in a box on the belt of a closed aisle behind her, informing me that she doesn’t use them. This caused a great deal of confusion for the people behind me in line, desperately searching for a divider. The cashier said she doesn’t see the dividers, and so customers must leave a space between their order and the one before them. This is fine, except from experience, I can tell you that many people will leave huge gaps in their own orders, even though everything is going on a single bill.
OK. Fine. If that’s how you want to be.
I get to the front of the line, show her my bags and tell her I will pack them myself. She nods, but then reaches out for the bags. I say, “No, I’ll pack them myself.” And she again insists that I give her the bags. I thought she might actually tackle me for them, but she did finally relent and “allow” me to pack my own groceries.
I think this might be a pattern at Wal-Mart (yes, I know it’s now the classier “Walmart,” but I don’t care). Once, I was in the self checkout line and the scale was giving me grief about the weight of my reusable bag not matching the weight of the thing I was putting in it. I was about to handle the situation myself, but the woman manning the station decided to come over and interfere, making things even more complicated and refusing to leave once I fixed the issue.
I remember I was purchasing eggs and something else rather light-weight. I put the eggs in the bag first so they would lay flat and then the other item on top of the eggs. This caused great panic in the self-checkout-manning employee. With a gasp, she said, “Are you sure you should do that? Those are eggs!” You know, I never would have known they were eggs if she hadn’t told me.
If the prices weren’t so low and the employees so amusing, I wouldn’t shop there anymore.