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Just Say No to Bruised Fruit

A great grocery bagger is a rare find. Every chance I get, I bag my own groceries, and I say to the confused and employed bagger, “It just makes sense; I’ll be the one unpacking them, and I know where they go.” While those statements are true, here’s one more: I do a better job.

The bread does not go on the bottom of the bag. Nor do the bananas. One of my many pet peeves is to have picked out amazing, bruise-free apples and bananas only to get them home covered in bruises and pierced peels due to poor placement in the grocery bag. Loaves of squished sandwich bread should not resemble contortionists when they are unpacked back at home. Containers from the deli and prepared foods section put into the bag on their sides leak, but only a bagger who cares will make an effort to place those correctly in a grocery bag. I care about my groceries more than any bagger, and I even pack the items according to certain categories based on where the items will go when I unpack them: refrigerator, freezer, pantry, upstairs. This is perfectly normal.

With all due respect to working teenagers, it’s a rare one that can pack a grocery bag correctly or well since teens are not usually the ones doing the grocery shopping for their own homes. Plus, they probably haven’t taken a physics class yet since that class is for upperclassmen. If teenagers are to be employed as grocery baggers, then part of the training should include some basic principles of physics, which older people figure out eventually even if they didn’t take physics. What goes up must come down. Heavier things smush lighter objects when placed on top of them. Volume, mass, density, speed - knowledge of these things impacts solid grocery-bagging skills. If you hurl a soup container into a grocery bag, chances are the lid will go askew and the soup will leak onto the other items in the bag. The speed at which the container is hurled will guarantee bruises on the fruit, which shouldn’t be at the bottom of a bag in the first place. Sure, teenagers will get sent to the store to buy milk or laundry detergent, straightforward things. But teens are not typically doing the big grocery shop, so overall they aren’t great packers. They do a good job with placing eggs in a separate bag, though, so I am sure all baggers get trained on the eggs.

Then there’s the overzealous bagger who has an environmental agenda and gives me the hairy eyeball because I haven’t brought my own bags, so he then tries to jam as much as possible into one bag. Like that is going to save the planet. When the bag rips, that’s just wasting a bag. I’m strong, but sometimes grocery bags are just too darn heavy. You don’t put two gallons of milk AND laundry detergent into one bag. You just don’t. If the bags are paper, the handles tear off due to the heavy load. Cramming all of the boxed items such as cereal, pasta, and crackers into one bag seems efficient with a paper bag, but not with plastic. On the rare times I request plastic bags (only when it’s raining), the bags usually rip due to the corners of boxed items piercing the bag thus rendering the plastic bag un-reusable. Who wants to reuse a plastic bag that has holes in it? Holes defeat the purpose of a bag whether you use it for trash or bring it on a walk to clean up after a dog (I don’t have a dog, but dog owners buy groceries, too, so here’s a nod to their plight).

Try as I might to remember to use my own reusable grocery bags, it does not happen as often as I would like. Sometimes I have one or two in the car, so I’ll bring that into the store, but that’s not every time. Bringing my own bags does not guarantee that I will be left to my own preferred devices at the bagging area, so back to square one with the bagging dilemma.

It’s a gamble if there will even be a bagger in the checkout line. If I have a choice between two empty checkout lines, and one has a bagger, I will go to the one without the bagger – probably irritating the clerk I’ve selected until he realizes that I am a self-sufficient bagger. My plan is occasionally foiled when the eager bagger from the line I avoided pops over to help me. “I’ve got it covered,” I’ve been known to say with a smile, and even though I say it as kindly as possible, I have still offended a bagger or two.

Once I offended a store manager after he started to pack my groceries. I thought he would do a great job given his position. You don’t just become a manager; you have to work your way up. When his third bag in a row was packed to the gills, making all of the bags too heavy for me to carry without ripping them, I offered to help since I, as I mentioned to him, knew where the groceries would be going. He raised his hands like a Vegas dealer signaling the end of his shift and walked away without a word. At the end of the day, I am just someone who enjoys bruise-less fruit in bags that won’t rip. Is that too much to ask?

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