Saturday, September 20, 2014

Grocer X: Reusable baggage

Posted By on Sat, Sep 20, 2014 at 8:42 AM

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Remember the grocery-bag glory days? That simpler time when it was just, "Paper or plastic?"

That’s not the case anymore, now that reusable bags hit the scene. Times have changed at the bagging station and, though you may think otherwise, not for the better.

Those reusable bags you tote along with eco-friendly pride, emblazoned with messages of sustainability from corporate retailers of all shapes and sizes, and making “tree huggers” green with envy from checkout counter to checkout counter, have become the bane of any bagger's existence.

Before, back in those glory days, it was simple:

"Plastic? Sure thing. Thanks for coming in today.”

“Paper?” (A little more work.) “No problem, have a good one.”

And there were only a handful of the infuriating “Paper inside of plastic” requests. (Really, if you’re one of those people, you’re the worst.) 

Now, you and your reusable bags come into my line all, “Yeah, I need this, that, this and the other thing in this bag, and pack ’em full, but not too heavy. And, don’t worry, I’ll freak out to let you know you’re doing it wrong anyway.”

Don’t get me wrong; reusable bags are great. Who needs an expanding collection of haggard, empty plastic shopping bags lying around the house? And yeah, they’re helpful for the environment.

But the fact is they are a pain to work with, all of them, and they always will be. I’ve seen so many different sizes, shapes, colors, materials and any other bag variable you can think of, and they are all a nightmare to pack.

All we want is to get you out of our checkout line a quickly as possible, but after figuring out how to unfold your handy bags from their “convenience pocket,” or just trying to keep the damn things open long enough to put an item into it, it doesn’t work out. The result: You’re in a bad mood, I’m in a worse mood, and chances are you’ll find your items in a state of disarray when unpacking at home.

You can see the loathing right in front of you — at least I can, when I’m using my reusable bags at the store. You neatly unload your cart and place your bags in plain view on the belt, only to hear a not so subtle sigh of “OMG, I hate this person” coming from the bagger at the end of the line. Or maybe he even tries to throw your items into plastic bags, pretending he didn't see your reusables.

So what are you supposed to do? I don’t know. Maybe there is no easing the pain for the new-aged bagger, or maybe they’ll get more used to it. Then there’s always the option of — gasp! — bagging your order all by yourself.

Thanks for shopping with us.

The man behind the apron is Craig Lemley, digital content coordinator here at the Indy. The Colorado Springs native spent nearly a decade working in grocery stores across the Pikes Peak region before retiring his produce knife for a surprisingly less-stressful media career. Follow him on twitter (@_CraigLemley) or send questions/comments to clemley@csindy.com.

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