Tuesday, February 26, 2008

In The Bag

7 years I have languished. 7 years I have lamented. 7 years I have stood in line watching with dismay, the craptacular display of ineptitude at the checkout stand of my local Albertsons.

7 years I have shopped in that grocery store, and for 7 years I have wondered why the management could not take 10 minutes to teach the dying art of proper bagging techniques to its new employees.

Sure, this is not a new topic for the Lounge. Certainly, I have gone on about this many times before. I have enumerated the ignorance and sins of the bag boys and girls. The slow packing. The single-item bagging. The heavies stacked on top of the squishables. The lack of internal structural integrity...

Anyone who knows me well enough in real life knows how particular I am about my grocery experience. In the cart, frozen rides with frozen, cold with cold, and non-food is quarantined with non-food. Produce stays up by me, so I can keep a wary eye on it. Fruit bruises easily, and nearly nothing makes me sadder.

Once at the checkout stand, I get a little weirder. Often times, when shopping with a friend for the first time, they dig in, wanting to help, and begin to spread the goods willy-nilly upon the conveyor. I rarely say anything, but really, I wish they wouldn't. The missus has learned, and just stands back. She lets me do my thing.

I unload in logical order, considering the relative stacks and bundles and the order in which they will reach the bagger at the end. I provide structural boxes first to allow proper bag-building. Cans are next, and other stackables. Again, frozen stays with frozen, and non-foods with non-foods. Produce, bread and eggs at the end. All the bagger has to do is build each bag according to the measured bundles of groceries I send down to them. I try to make their jobs easier.

Am I obsessive? Oh, hell yes. Am I frequently disappointed by my squandered efforts ignored by the hapless youth as they bruise my peaches?? Yes, heartbreakingly so...

Oh, but tonight. TONIGHT! Something amazing occurred... Something unexpected. Something delightful.

My cart was not full. It was a smallish load of necessities, and there was no wait at all.

The groceries flew in a well-ordered flurry across the scanner, and found their way into rigidly packed, well-build and stackably balanced bags. There were few bags used and, once in the car, the bags stood upright, they way they are supposed to. They did not wallow to the ground like spineless jellyfish, as so often happens. The contents did not dribble out of the bags, rather, they remained stacked, tautly-packed, straight and rigid.

Once home, the bags retained their intended shape. The produce was safe. The frozen foods were still cold. None of my purchase was lost, bruised or broken! It was a miracle.

Of course, I discovered tonight that Albertsons has recently installed a self-checkout check stand and my grocery bagger was none other than ME.


  1. You always have been big on bagging fruit.

  2. Lucky Red9:02 AM

    This makes it official...you really DO need a hobby- Ok, go do that rocket thing and sniff some glue-meanwhile, I'm going to get some old MTV stars from the 80's to sing a song to raise money for you...

  3. Anonymous9:05 AM

    Well if the law thing doesn't work out, you have something to fall back on "bag boy."

  4. Ever thought of teaching proper grocery bagging as one of those community education classes through PCC?

  5. Glad to know I'm not the only one as obsessive about bagging my groceries "just so".

    Of course, I do most of my shopping at Food4Less, which has self-bagging by default, so it's rare that I leave the bagging at the mercy of the nearest harried employee. Stuff is generally cheaper there, too-- so it's an all-around win!

  6. Fred: yes, I have. Or, at least, offer a course for the local grocery store...

  7. Hmmmm...
    While I don't disagree with the concept (as I have been known to have disdain for the techniques of my local bagging personnel), I AM concerned about the odd use of third person perspective regarding your recent grcoery experience.

    Perhaps your sense of zen from having total bagging control simply put you into an out of body experience?

  8. They are trying to pass a law in Santa Monica that will eliminate the use of plastic bags entirely and allow the grocery stores to charge an extra fee for using paper bags. This is an effort to make shoppers bring in their own bags and save our precious envirmonment.

  9. The Lorax11:06 AM

    Ya... fuck the environment!

  10. Al Gore2:52 PM

    Hey now thats not nice.


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