Sunday 25 Sep 2016

About a Bag
Jennifer Flaten

After I handed the clerk my money, I asked her for a bag. I even asked nicely, but considering the response I got, I should have just demanded she give me a damn bag.

Despite my polite tone of voice, the clerk still seemed reluctant to give me a bag. She reviewed my items on the counter and asked me what I wanted in the bag. Well, let’s see I have three items on the counter, so I would say I want those same three items to go in the bag.

Of course, if you would like to stuff it full of other miscellaneous items that I didn’t buy go ahead I won‘t stop you. In fact, please feel free to empty out the cash drawer. Oh wait, that would make it a robbery. Never mind.

I didn’t realize our purchases were now subject to a bag worthiness check. I guess my soda, gallon of milk and pack of pictures didn’t pass the test.

Look, it’s simple, it doesn’t matter what I have on the counter 1 big item or 10 tiny ones, if I, the customer, want a bag, you give me one. I know what she really wanted me to say I didn’t need a bag.

It’s the same at the grocery store when they ask if you want paper or plastic. What they really mean is choose the plastic, otherwise if you ask for paper we are going to give you the look that says you are single-handedly destroying the earth.

I was a bit surprised at the clerk’s attitude; it is very different from what I get at my local Wal-Mart. There it doesn’t matter how many items you have you get a bag. One small tin of mints you get a bag. Fifty items, no, problem we give you fifty flimsy bags, good luck getting all fifty items from your car to your house in one piece.

Actually, the clerk’s question made me feel guilty; I almost burst into a long-winded explanation of why I wanted the bag. We’d walked over to the store, so this would make it easier to carry what I buy. I didn’t go there because I don’t want to have a conversation with the clerk regarding my purchases.

Thanks, I already get that at the local mom & pop grocery store. One particular clerk there will look over all your items and pick up random ones to comment on. One day, she read the front page of the newspaper I was trying to buy. Really, I don’t want to discuss local politics with you at 7am, I just want my muffin and my newspaper.

Another time she spent about two minutes puzzling over the package of gnocchi I put on the counter. All I can say is she’s obviously not a fan of international cuisine.

In an effort to appease the bag police/clerk I told her, I only wanted the milk and the soda in a bag; we would carry the pack of pictures. I think that was the wrong answer because she heaved a big sigh before packing up my remaining items.

As she slowly put my milk and soda in a bag, I toyed with the idea of asking her to double bag my stuff, but then I decided it wasn’t worth the trouble. I took my bag, with two items in it, and left.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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