Too much to ask
With our powers combined, the answers shall be found

Bread belongs in its own styrofoam bread-sized carrying case

Last week I was all GAH, HATE BLOGGING and WHINE WHINE WHINE and POOR WITTLE ME and barely looked at my computer this weekend. I KNOW! I actually spent my weekend with real people! I even went OUT! Friday night my sister took me shoe shopping because, as we know, I own one pair of shoes and they do not go with the dress I was planning to wear to the church tea party. (Apparently, all the primary level teachers at my sister's school know about my Shoe Deficiency and, when she told them about her Friday evening plans, sent their prayers and The Force.)

Amazingly enough we found a pair of shoes in a heel height my feet have never known (AND YET I STAYED UPRIGHT ALL AFTERNOON). And then the NEXT day I not only partied with the church ladies, I went out for Red Robin french fries with girlfriends and LEFT THE BABY AT HOME. See? REAL PEOPLE! OUTINGS! RED ROBIN RANCH DRESSING!

(Who thinks I have used up my allotment of capital letters ALREADY?)

Okay, even besides all those things, some rather blog-worthy things happened this weekend and then I was all YAY, LOVE BLOGGING. There was the fascinating article American Family linked to yesterday (not sure if that NYT link will work because of registering etc.) about multiracial children traveling in China, finally taking our car in to be fixed and having to rent a godawful Ford Taurus, then discovering that Jack is most likely allergic to eggs (WOE!)- all terribly interesting to be SURE. But what I really want to write about today is Grocery Store Bagger People.

BECAUSE OH MY GOD, Grocery Store Bagger People. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?

First of all, I speak from experience. I was a Grocery Store Bagger Person in high school, although we called ourselves Commissary Baggers and we worked for tips. Being a Commissary Bagger was pretty much the only not lame job available to high schoolers on base. You could work at one of the food joints (LAME) and you could also do Summer Hire during the (duh) summer where the military matched you up with a military office and you worked for twenty-five cents an hour doing whatever the 20-year-old sergeant wanted you to do. When I was 15 I worked in Pass & ID, when you still had passes and ID cards made out of real paper, with a picture glued on to the front and run through a laminator. (AM VERY OLD.) My brothers mowed the grass on top of ammunition mounds (what are those things called? Never mind, I don't care.) The summer after my senior year, because I was special, I got to work at the base newspaper where I wrote incredibly dorky articles (and turned down an opportunity to go and write about paragliding, because I am a CHICKEN) and got to be in the thick of the Most Exciting Summer Event, when a fighter jet made a crash landing seconds away from our building. Oh yeah, good times on the American overseas military base.

But you did not do Summer Hire to make money, you did Summer Hire to put something on your resume or your college applications. If you needed to make some cash, you cozied up to Toni, the Head Bagger at the base commissary and begged for a job as soon as she had an opening.

Toni was three feet tall and all three feet made up of Crazy. She was mean and scary and owned the express lanes so she'd never have to take a huge order out to someone's car. There were rules and training periods and God help you if you broke the eggs. But if you got through your first few bagger weeks alive, you could make some serious money (and possibly Toni's affection!).

There were lots of baggers and we all took turns. When we weren't bagging we were lounging unattractively on plastic chairs at the back of the commissary and counting our tips. When it was our turn we hoped for a big family because that meant a double cart to haul out to the parking lot. And everyone knew double carts commanded Super Huge Tips. It helped that nearly everybody knew everybody. Especially if you were a high school kid bagging for a family with kids. Chances are they knew you or your family and yay for having parents who taught elementary school kids because THOSE families knew you even better. Tipping wasn't necessarily for a job well done, but for how much work it was to bag your 487 items and how far away you parked, in addition to whether or not the person buying the groceries knew their bagger. But we were trained by Toni and BY GOD we knew how to bag groceries. Bagging was long, boring and occasionally hard work and we were pathetic high school kids with no other options. I used to be able to tell you how much I could make in an afternoon, or what my highest take was, but I forget now. And it probably would sound like nothing because hello, over ten years ago, but it was big money for us.

All of that to say: I KNOW HOW TO BAG GROCERIES.

For the most part, I give the nice people at Safeway a break. They don't work for tips. I'm not even allowed to tip them I say "Yes, I would like some help out, thank you!" They are so bored they WANT to take your groceries outside. (I found this out when one of my numerous pharmacist friends worked at stint at the grocery store and passed on this helpful information. And when you have a kiddo in the grocery cart, you ALWAYS want help outside.) But perhaps if they did take tips they'd do a mite better job.

There are a few things you should be as a Grocery Store Bagger Person. You should be fast. You should be nimble. You should bag cold things with cold things and hot things with hot things and poisonous things by themselves. You should not make a bag too heavy to carry. You should be aware of eggs and bread and bag them safely. I even do my best to help my Grocery Store Bagger Person out, by grouping like things together on the conveyor belt. Yes, this may be due to my OCD about such things, but I'd like to think I'm doing them a favor.

Occasionally you get a great bagger and most of the time you get a decent bagger who is just trying to pack a lot into one bag, or puts one cold thing in every bag. But sometimes you get the Grocery Store Bagger Person I had yesterday and then you consider going on a Murderous Rampage.

He started out nice enough, although, COOL IT WITH THE QUESTIONS, Grocery Store Bagger! Yes, I found everything I needed! Yes, this will be all! Yes, I DID enjoy the weather today, thank you! Everything but the most important question: paper or plastic, which he totally did not ask me. But whatever.

When he was loading my bags back into my cart I noticed they were a little, uh, rounded. As in, things may be falling out. But I said thank you and dragged the cart to my car (I was baby-less! Whee!) and started the process of loading up the trunk. Whereupon I saw that one loaf of bread was buried underneath ten jars of baby food. Another loaf of bread was sitting under a jar of applesauce. The eggs were sideways and packed along side more jars of baby food and a bottle of balsamic vinegar. The grapes were perched on top of a pile of small boxes, about to bust out of their plastic bag, and the bananas were jammed between a box of cereal and a pint of ice cream.

I pulled out one loaf of bread, squashed and flattened beyond recognition. I SWEAR. If I hadn't been so exhausted (we'd walked down to the lake and taken the baby to the baby swings and limped all the way home and I WAS SO FREAKING TIRED) I would have marched into the store swinging that loaf of bread above my head and hollering for the bagger, the checker, the manager and everyone who thinks putting a jar of applesauce on top of a loaf of bread is in any way a marvelous idea.

But I didn't. I went home and bitched to Phillip about the Severe Lack Of Bagging Education going on in America today and ate ice cream for dinner. Because I can. Also, this post is embarrassingly long for being all about GROCERY STORE BAGGING and I think it's time for me to take a shower. Bye!

Comments

Lisa

When we shop together, my husband usually bags the groceries himself because he used to be a bagger in high school and knows how it is done. However, our local baggers do a fairly good job, I must say. No smushed bread. That would drive me nuts.

Liz

Wow. Way to go writing an entire chapter on grocery bagging! I'm impressed at how passionately yet reverently you treat the subject. I also hope this comment comes off as a good-natured tease and not as mean-sarcastic. :D

Also - church tea AND Red Robin?? I did church tea and then 2 hour NAP!! Your stamina is Mighty impressive.
Also, how did you figure Jack's allergic to eggs?

Jen

I also group things together for easier bagging because of OCD. I've never even been a bagger, either.

On that article you linked to- my family lived in Indonesia for 4 years. We used to get our pictures taken all the time by the locals. An entire school class once lined up in front of my dad. (He realized, came up behind them and put his arms around the back kids. They got so excited that the girl taking the picture had to get someone else to take it so that she could be in it.) We also had friends who lived in the Middle East. She used to have strangers constantly coming up to touch her blond hair (would have happened to us in Indonesia, but we are all quite dark headed).

Wickedly Scarlett

Oh, that is unacceptable!!!

However, I totally understand your conveyor belt OCD. Colby won't even put things on the belt anymore because he's afraid I'll yell at him for messing up my placement. I come from a long line of the Crazy, so it's good to know that there are others out there with similar hangups!

Tara

We just had a new grocery chain open up here, and the bagging is usually horrible. The first time I chalked it up to the fact that it was a teenagerdoing the bagging, and didn't have any personal experience with grocery shopping herself. The next time, same story. I even brought my neat-o trader joe's insulated bag, you know, for the COLD STUFF. After watching them start to mismatch everything and put bread in the insulated bag I finally said something. They were like, "OH! Yeah! That makes sense to put the cold things in the insulated bag!"

You'd think there would be some sort of training involved with being hired?

Ok, end of long boring grumpy comment.

blog nerd

I bagged groceries after COLLEGE (at a small mom and pop grocery in our village)--and I used to LOVE bagging. It was like a spatial relations exercise. Making the various multi-shaped and multi-sized objects fit into the rectangular bottom bag in the most efficient manner.

Is that sick or what?

Dr. Maureen

I group things on the belt too! But my problems with baggers are more like this:

ME: I don't need a bag. I don't need a bag. I DON'T NEED A BAG! (spoken in tones of increasing desperation as the clerk double bags my single magazine)

ME: You can just put everything in one bag, it's really fine. One bag is fine. JUST ONE BAG! (spoken in tones of increasing desperation as the clerk bags my 4 small items in 4 separate bags)

ME: Can I have paper, please? Paper? PAPER? CAN I HAVE PA- oh, for the love of God! (last part in response to the clerk's putting my already double-plastic-bagged single magazine into a paper bag)

Kate P

Preach it, sister. My goal is to have everything in as few bags as possible b/c I have to lug it up the back steps into my building. But that does not mean put all the heavy stuff in the same bag!

ren

Oh, I have such mixed feelings about the commissary bagger people! On the one hand, they DO do a good job about protecting the eggs and bread. On the other, I really resent feeling like I have to tip someone at least $2 (and I hear the going rate is $3, but come on!)to take my groceries out to the car, when I am perfectly capable of doing it myself, or used to Publix in the US, where they cheerfully do it and refuse tips. I just don't carry cash often and get tripped up by this tipping thing at least once per week. Stupid Commissary!

ren

But I forgot to say that I completely agree with you that it is the almost only job available for high-school aged kids at our base in England, and certainly the most lucrative. AND that I don't think the system is the baggers' fault. Stupid military. AND that I also have the OCD thing with the separating the cold, frozen, and other stuff.

Jess

Wow. Now I really appreciate the baggers at our grocery store. I see them set aside things like bread and eggs to put carefully on top of heavier things. I love them for that.

VaxOrarne

i am gonna show this to my friend, guy

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