Saturday, July 26, 2008

Dear Kid at the Grocery Store,

I've just returned from a trip to your place of employment and have recovered nicely from your blank pimpled stare. Now that we have a little more time, allow me to explain what I was trying to explain as you helpfully bagged my groceries.

Bags, as you will have discovered are useful items. They allow you to place multiple items into one easily carried item. That, having been said, their use can also be overdone.

I completely understand why you've been instructed to wrap the items of meat into their own bag before placing them into another bag. There is no reason, however, to further segregate them from all of the other groceries by refusing to place any other item into that bag. Placing the bars of soap into that bag would not present a problem. Not only is each bar in its own box...the three boxes are then further wrapped in clear plastic. The risk of soapy meat or meaty soap is really quite low. I'm willing to risk it.

Or possibly, you're doing me a favor and making sure that no particular bag becomes too heavy and that's the reason you're dividing things into multiple bags. It's a fine theory, but regardless of how many bags you use, I'll still be carrying them home with only two hands attached to two arms. I assure you, I'm carrying the same weight no matter how you split it up. In fact, while negligible, the weight of the extra bags might just be the straw that breaks this camel's back.

And let's discuss the bag of charcoal. If you place it in a bag, can anything else fit in there with it? I think not, thereby negating that first thing we discussed. Now if you were selling loose charcoal briquettes, I'd thank you kindly for helpfully putting them into a bag. However, since your store sells charcoal by the bag, I feel it incumbent upon me to point out that a bag of charcoal is, in fact...a bag.

Out of curiosity, if I walked in and asked you for a bag, would you give it to me in a bag?

I realize you're only 14 and you're doing what they told you to do. I also realize that the odds of you reading this are vanishingly few. But this has been much more satisfying for me than the vacant, glazed look you gave me when I handed back 6 empty bags and made my way home with the five items I purchased.

And, you're welcome for the 53¢ tip. You worked unnecessarily hard for it.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Update Sunday 7/27: And the woman at the counter in the Pet Food Store just offered me a bag to carry my one purchase...a bag of cat food. Thanks!

21 comments:

Brian White said...

This is why I like the self checkout lane. I haven't been through a grocery checkout in three years.

Brian White said...

Make that a grocery checkout with a human cashier. My previous comment made it sound as if I was stealing.

Random Michelle K said...

No offense Brian White, but I hate the self-checkout lines with a passion.

First, for the prices I pay for groceries, someone else damn well better bag my groceries. In theory, they should also carry them to the car for me.

Second, I despise the fact that people are constantly being replaced by machines. As Nathan said, the bagger was a kid, it was probably his first job. What if his first job, his first introduction to work was somewhere he was expected to think?

His head would probably explode.

Thirdly, I tend to like the check-out people at my grocery stories. Excluding Larry, who is an asshole, they're nice, they're friendly, they're either putting themselves through school or working to support a family, or they're earning extra income in retirement.

I'd much rather a grocery store pay them for their work then stick the extra money in their pockets.

Random Michelle K said...

Also? I use those awesome recycled/reusable bags. They're large, sturdy, and have nice comfortable handles. Definitely recommended.

Steve Buchheit said...

What gets me most is when they put the gallon of milk in a bag. Dude, it has got its own handle. No bag necessary.

And like Random Michelle K, I hate those self check out lanes with a passion. Give me a 10% discount, sure, I'll use them. But I see no benefit except to cut jobs and make me do the work. No thanks. Plus, out of five times I've tried to use them, they've failed four times and I had to be escorted over to the attendant's register to have them ring me up.

Man said...

As a former bag boy at the ripe old age of 12 you quickly learn when to screw people over.

Guys shopping buy themselves were the worst tippers and most complaints so we just packed their bags to excess.

Mothers with children were the best and everything would get done right.

The higher the bill was the less the tip.

For any one who found their dish washing liquid opened in a Western Beef during the late 80s I apologize and should have been grateful for the 3 cent tip.

Anne C. said...

People tip baggers?

I'd never heard of this until now. That's probably because when we were kids, we almost always bagged my mum's groceries. Bagger or no, we took pride in the skill and speed of our bagging. Even now I'd rather do my own bagging (I also use the reusable bags, which hold a hell of a lot. :)

I've been stiffing baggers for umpteen years now. I believe the fifth circle of hell is reserved in my name.

Nathan said...

Anne,

when I was a kid, Mom didn't tip the kid for bagging groceries, but when he helped get groceries to the car, she did.

Then, at some point, we started shopping somewhere where they had a policy against bag boys taking tips. (I remember the first time one of them refused a tip from Mom.)

When I moved to NY, the clue that tips were expected was the little plastic dish full of coins at the bagger's end of the checkout.

If you haven't met up with man's revenge™ (see one comment up from yours), I suspect you're shopping in a tip-free zone. (Although maybe not.)

Random Michelle K said...

No tipping here. In fact, I'd never heard of that before.

I don't see how anyone would get tips anymore, since almost no one ever pays in cash for anything.

kimby said...

I would never think to tip a grocery clerk for bagging groceries...and since in recent years, I don't think I have found a market that bags your groceries, I am still surprised that you all have places that still do that. As a present cashier, I think I would fall over if someone gave me a tip for doing my job. (I don't work in a grocery store, but still have to bag purchases)

vince said...

I'm also a former bag boy, and we weren't allowed to take tips. And I agree with Michelle - most people don't pay for groceries with cash. I almost always write a check, unless it's something small that I forgot or suddenly need.

As to the actual packing procedure, I was actually taught how to pack by the grocery store I worked for - what items should be packed together, how much was appropriate in each bag, etc. We were taught never to pack items with handles in a bag unless the customer requested it, and to always carry items out to the customer's vehicle unless they specifically said they were walking or didn't want us to.

vince said...

Kimby, large chain grocery stores around here let you bag your own, but there are still people available to bag for you. Small grocery stores always have baggers, and if they're busy or the order is small, the clerk will do the bagging.

Anne C. said...

When I moved to NY, the clue that tips were expected was the little plastic dish full of coins at the bagger's end of the checkout.

Well, that's good to hear. I've never seen that. I guess I'll be going to hell for all the other stuff instead. ;)

Jeri said...

When we lived on base and shopped at the base exchange, the baggers worked for tips only - no salary.

But I've never seen non-military commissary baggers get tipped. I thought it was peculiar to the military. Odd. Our little, very, very expensive grocery store in town has great baggers, even if they do sometimes try to bag my gallon milk jugs too.

I have started using my own sturdy bring-em-myself bags too, but half the time I forget to bring them in from the car. But I'm learning.

Tania said...

I use the self-checkout all the time, and bring my own bags. I know the cashier that monitors the self-checkout stations well enough that the time I forgot to bring my debit card (doh!) he let me rattle off the number and keyed it in for me. I don't use coupons at the self-checkout, that's just wrong.

Most stores train the kids on how to pack the bags. In HS I did the grocery shopping for our house, and one of my friends worked as a bagger at the local grocery store. I'd always pick her line, and she would always offer to help me take my purcahses to the car. It gave us slacker teenagers a few minutes to visit while she was on the clock. Since I usually had four or five bags of groceries, her manager never got mad about it.

Miss Adventurous said...

Yeah, I've been on this particular soapbox for years.

Hey, we're production office neighbors! I'm working over in 609 Greenwich, right around the corner from your office... Neato!

Nathan said...

Welcome to the blog!

Why don't you virtually pop on over for a virtual cup of coffee.

It's virtually on me.

Shawn Powers said...

I'm related to people (I'll give no further details on said relation) that would throw a hissy fit if soap and meat were bagged together, regardless of the amount of inner baggage separation.

And I prefer self checkout isles with baggers at the end. I tend to be more efficient at scanning than most cashiers.

Benny the Bag Boy said...

At the risk of sounding as arrogant and condescending as you are in your posting, 'Dear Kid at the Grocery Store', please allow me to share some common sense and simple facts you may be able to understand...

At the grocery store, your packages of meat are wrapped for two primary reasons:

1) Most fresh meat products are displayed for sale to customers at 34-37 degrees. Your packages of soap (or any other item that is not refrigerated) has an ambient temperature that is close to that of the interior of the store--say, 72 degrees. To understand this next part, you'll need to understand the properties of 'refrigeration'. Cold doesn't give off its lower temperature, cold 'absorbs' heat. (That's why your ice cube melts when you put it in a glass of warm soda...that's why your feet are warm when you stand bare-footed in front of your refrigerator...that's why your hot, stale, morning coffee breath condenses on your windshield on a January morning). In short, your fresh meat is wrapped to insulate it--to keep the bar of soap from 'sucking' the cooler temperature from it--thus keeping it fresher and adding 'shelf life' to the meat once you get it home.

2) Your meat is wrapped and often segregated from soap because the grocery business is not too unlike a snow storm. There are lots of 'flakes' out there who demand that their 'perishable' items NOT be bagged with anything that might gives off any semblance of a fragrance, make them go blind, or impotent, give them pancreatic cancer, or change the floral bouquet of their own flatulance, as they are of the firm belief that theirs doesn't stink. (something tells me you might be one of those).

Regarding the 'weight' of your bags, here is why we distribute the load to other bags:

1) Unless it is cloth, every bag has a 'memory'...if you will, a 'temper' very much like steel. They will eventually break, depending on what is packed inside them. A sharp-pointed box, for example, is not the bag's friend. And it becomes your worst enemy when it decides to break as you're jay walking at the corner of 32 and 2.

2) Most people actually want more bags because they're hoping to meet someone along the way who can help carry the load. Those people have friends. Get some.

Regarding putting the bags of charcoal? We do that because every manufacturer of charcoal, whether it's Kingsford, or Sam's, goes totally Obama on their product when it comes to spending a few more cents on their packaging. In other words, Captain Condescending, we bag the charcoal for you to prevent that black powder residue that leaks out of the corners of the charcoal bag from soiling the front of those Perry Ellis knock-off slacks you buy on-line from K-Mart.

And the 53-cent tip? Tell me, are you one of those people who does the math in your head when you tip the waitor at a restaurant...you know, just to make sure you're giving him a minimum of 17.5%?

Your waitor didn't prepare the food. He simply took your order,and pretended to be impressed when you slaughtered the name of the wine you ordered with hopes of getting laid.

So, why not tip the kid who bagged your groceries a whole dollar? He's only trying to do a good job for you...so you won't get your sorry ass ran over as you're picking up your groceries in the middle of the street?

And for the record, those are not pimples on every bagger's face.

They're simply scars from taking 'barbs' from guys like you who look down on guys like me...simply because we're trying to save up enough money to help our mothers pay the rent.

Oh, and one more thing, Donald Trump, 'Have a nice day'.

Benny the Bag Boy said...

At the risk of sounding as arrogant and condescending as you are in your posting, 'Dear Kid at the Grocery Store', please allow me to share some common sense and simple facts you may be able to understand...

At the grocery store, your packages of meat are wrapped for two primary reasons:

1) Most fresh meat products are displayed for sale to customers at 34-37 degrees. Your packages of soap (or any other item that is not refrigerated) has an ambient temperature that is close to that of the interior of the store--say, 72 degrees. To understand this next part, you'll need to understand the properties of 'refrigeration'. Cold doesn't give off its lower temperature, cold 'absorbs' heat. (That's why your ice cube melts when you put it in a glass of warm soda...that's why your feet are warm when you stand bare-footed in front of your refrigerator...that's why your hot, stale, morning coffee breath condenses on your windshield on a January morning). In short, your fresh meat is wrapped to insulate it--to keep the bar of soap from 'sucking' the cooler temperature from it--thus keeping it fresher and adding 'shelf life' to the meat once you get it home.

2) Your meat is wrapped and often segregated from soap because the grocery business is not too unlike a snow storm. There are lots of 'flakes' out there who demand that their 'perishable' items NOT be bagged with anything that might gives off any semblance of a fragrance, make them go blind, or impotent, give them pancreatic cancer, introduce them to the leading stages of Alzheimer's, or change the floral bouquet of their own flatulence, as they are of the firm belief that theirs doesn't stink. (something tells me you might be one of those).

Regarding the 'weight' of your bags, here is why we distribute the load to other bags:

1) Unless it is cloth, every bag has a 'memory'...if you will, a 'temper' very much like steel. They will eventually break, depending on what is packed inside them. A sharp-pointed box, for example, is not the bag's friend. And it becomes your worst enemy when it decides to break as you're jay walking at the corner of 32 and 2.

2) Most people actually want more bags because they're hoping to meet someone along the way who can help carry the load. Those people have friends. Get some.

Regarding putting the bags of charcoal in bags? We do that because every manufacturer of charcoal, whether it's Kingsford, or Sam's, goes totally Obama on their product when it comes to spending a few more cents on their packaging. In other words, Captain Critical, we bag the charcoal for you to prevent that black powder residue that leaks out of the corners of the charcoal bag from soiling the front of those Perry Ellis knock-off slacks you buy on-line from K-Mart.

And the 53-cent tip? Tell me, are you one of those people who does the math in your head when you tip the waiter at a restaurant...you know, just to make sure you're giving him a minimum of 17.5%?

Your waiter didn't prepare the food. He simply took your order,and pretended to be impressed despite the fact that you slaughtered the name of the French wine you ordered with hopes of getting laid later.

So, why not tip the kid who bagged your groceries another forty-seven cents? A dollar for crying out loud! He's only trying to do a good job for you, so you won't get your sorry ass ran over as you're picking up your groceries in the middle of the street?

And for the record, those are not pimples on your bagger's face.

They're simply scars from taking 'barbs' from guys like you who look down on guys like him...simply because he's trying to save up enough money to help his mother pay the rent.

Oh, and one more thing, Donald Trump, 'Have a nice day'.

Jim Wright said...

He's not a bagger, Nathan, he's a Grocery Assemblage Engineer. How about showing some fucking respect, you arrogant bastard. Bagging, there's science involved.


Benny sounds a hell of a lot like the philosopher who makes up stories over on Waiter Rant.