Where has the art of bagging groceries gone?

I remember when I was in high school that a lot of my male classmates had jobs at local grocery stores bagging groceries. Thinking back - I don't know why girls didn't hold this position. Hmm - maybe they did, but I don't remember. Anyway, back then, the grocery bagger (aka cute boy) would bag your groceries and then helped you - OK, my mom - out to your car and even put them in your trunk. Then, after the trunk was closed shut, my mom would give them a tip. We arrived home with our brown paper grocery bags filled with groceries and everything was perfect. No crushed bread, broken eggs or smashed tomatoes.

So, fast forward 25 years. Grocery stores do not use brown paper bags anymore, they use plastic, or in my case, I bring my own reusable grocery tote bags. Also, the people who are bagging the groceries do not know how to bag groceries - and they are not cute boys.

So today I was at my Chicago grocery store of habit, lets call it the Pearl. I don't go there because of the wide aisles, or the smell of freshly baking bread in the bakery, (it's a city grocery with a parking garage) I go there because it is exactly 6 blocks from my house.

So in I go with my 4 reusable totes, with the Pearl screeed on the side of the bag indicating I am a loyal customer. As I choose my groceries, I put them in my totes accordingly. I have a special tote that is supposed to keep cold food items cold and the rest are just regular totes. By the time I get to the checkout line my arms are killing me, but hey - I know how many bags I'm going to have to carry up the escalator to the grocery store parking garage and then haul up 3 flights of stairs when I get home. I'm pretty smart that way.

I started unloading my items on the conveyor belt (I swear that thing speeds up when I go near it) and being the anal person I am, I place my groceries in the order I would like them rung up. You know, all frozen foods together, all cold foods, all meats, canned items. You get the idea. You would think that this would help out the grocery bagger. Oh - and also the fact that I told him (again, not cute) that I would like all of my cold items in the blue tote and the rest in the green totes.

Once again, me being anal and all, I watch as the checker scans each item - to make sure I get my buy one, get one free items, well...free. Also I've had items scanned twice before making the whole buy one get one free just a slap in the face - because not only did I not get one free, I paid for one that I didn't even get. Grr.

The checker finally totals up my purchases and then realizes that I have wine. "21 on aisle 7," she yells on the loud speaker. Fine. Now I have to wait for someone who is 23 years old to come over, check my ID, look at me, make me take it out of my wallet, turn it over (because it says it's expired on the front and there is a sticker on the back) look at me again, look at my license, look at me yet again and say "wow, you've changed." "Yes, yes I have, I say. It's been a few years since I got my original license and thank you very much for pointing out that I have gained weight...Or, were you referring that I look much older?" You're on thin ice here checker-girl I think to myself - and... I so do not dye my hair - it's natural. Really - it is. I'll be 40 and I've yet to see a grey hair. The Gods are with me on this one.
$68.92 - that's your total - cash, debit or credit?

Finally, done with the interrogation. We've now figured out 3 things. I am in fact over 21, I have gained weight and I will pay with my debit card. That only took 10 minutes. So I mosey on down expecting to find my neatly packed groceries in their respective totes. But, did I honestly think my grouped efforts of food items and clearly marked totes were enough. Nope. Apparently I need to invest in a P-Touch to help the bagger bring it home.

He says to me "you didn't have enough bags so I put the remainder in plastic, is this OK?" At this point I am irritated, Ellen is going to start soon and I have to pee. I thought to myself. I can take two roads here. The high one or the learning one. I chose the learning one and promptly informed him that all of the groceries in the 5 bags were once in 4 bags at the beginning of the line. Then, I unpacked my groceries (finding the bread under a few canned goods) and repacked them so he could "learn"' how to properly pack grocery totes.

Being the National Day of Service, I do feel I did my part. (originally posted January 19)

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