Bagging Groceries Can’t Be That Hard

It is my predisposition to be kind to grocery checkout and baggers. After all, nobody ever grew up wanting to do this for a living. Probably most are either forced into it by the economy, bad circumstances, or it’s a good after school job. So I know that the national security is not hanging in the balance of the quality of those who assist in my exit from the grocery store. But the security of my loaf of bread is at stake.

Most grocery baggers are friendly types. They are dealing with people (all sorts of people) throughout their shift. Their training suggests that they speak to each customer in a nice way. Maybe even their job depends on this. I have actually become friends with some of the checkers at our grocery and enjoy going in there. On many Sunday mornings I allow myself to make a donut run. One checker asks me each time when I’m going to whittle those donuts down to only one. That’s probably not going to happen. But we laugh and it’s enjoyable. So I am not a cranky grocery store critic who cannot be pleased.

But there are some rules these (mostly) young hooligans need to learn. They’ve never come to the grocery store with a big list and a vanishing $100 bill. You can tell with some of them, when you observe them chatting it up with the cashier and almost blindly tossing your groceries into flimsy plastic bags. They have no concept of what happens when one actually empties those bags at home. These are the same flimsy bags, by the way, that split when a couple of cans are toted in them and are evidently going to be hanging around a landfill when my great grandchildren’s great grandchildren are learning to walk. I can’t figure that out.

Anyhow, bagging groceries can’t be that hard. Hard work, yes. I’ve often thought that it must be a back breaker to load everyone’s groceries into bags. But the process can’t be that hard. Still I arrive at home with bananas and canned goods in the same bag. How many times have my bananas look bruised enough to have tangled with a professional wrestler on the way home. More often than not my bread arrives at the house crushed and smashed in a dozen different places by the bag of potatoes with which they’ve been stored. I mean, just THINK for a moment!

This happens even though I carefully place my food on the counter as I want it to be packed. Yes, I group the cold food together, the produce together, and the canned goods together. I make sure that as it is taken from the counter to the scanner to the bag it travels with the proper companions. That’s why I break out in a sweat when I see the bagger panic for a moment as he reaches toward the conveyor belt … hesitating before selecting bag mates. Sigh. He who hesitates is lost.

I wish baggers would practice the Golden Rule. I suppose, though, that most 16 year olds cannot fathom what it means to come home and hand a crushed loaf of bread to my wife. One day you will know that “how could you crush the bread,  did you break the eggs” look, young bagger. But for now you just have to imagine. Compassionately.

An important part of our economic process, I appeal to baggers to pay attention. I frequent the store for which you work. This creates a need that causes your boss to hire you to work. (This is why I also leave my buggy wherever it lands – job creation. You can thank me later for doing my part.) We are partners! So help your partner out. It just can’t be that hard.

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