Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Bag Lady

Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.

-Horace Mann  

I used to shop at Food 4 Less.  The biggest draw was cheaper baby formula.  The biggest pain in the neck was trying to bag my own stuff with two toddlers and an infant.  After a couple of years, I was done.  The bags were ridiculously flimsy.  Even when I double-bagged, items would fall right through.  It got to the point where I would only put a single box of cereal or container of sour cream in each double-bag.  Frustrated, I took my business to Dominick's.

Dominick's was more expensive, but I discovered that if I only shopped the sales, I was spending about the same as I was at Food 4 Less.  Dominick's offered warm lighting, organized & spacious aisles, and most important of all: baggers.  I felt like a queen.  The stress of trying to keep my kids in check, locate my coupons and credit card, and bag my own groceries all at the same time was gone.

Life couldn't be any better.

Yet during my last 15 visits, I noticed the store was dramatically decreasing baggers. Sometimes there were two. More often, there was just one. And then last week, there was not a single bagger to be found. In what felt like a sneaky and gradual lowering of expectations, people had just gotten accustomed to bagging their own stuff.

I was guilty of this, too. But then I decided to take a stand. After all, this wasn't Food 4 Less! There was an unspoken contract between Dominick's and me. It involved paying a bit more for milk while the store re-loaded my 15 boxes of Caprisun into the cart.

There was only one bagger working the day I staged my demonstration. Each of the check-out lanes was at least 3 people deep. The cashier seemed perplexed as my scanned groceries piled up. I did nothing to prepare them for their journey home in my minivan. I fought the overwhelming urge to handle it myself, but I stood there, waiting.

"I'd like a bagger," I told her.

The cashier smiled. Behind me, the long line of moms rolled its eyes, sighed dramatically, and switched lanes.

I waited an awkward 5 minutes while the cashier paged a bagger. We made small talk about the White Sox and Fig Newtons. Finally, the store manager came over and bagged my stuff.

The cashier smiled again, far more broadly this time. Then she winked at me.

I do not know if my little one-mom protest had anything to do with it, but the next time I went to the store, the bagger was already there as I approached the check-out. I looked around and noticed there were several more baggers than usual.

Sure it wasn't Tiananmen Square, but for a big sissy like me, it was as close to being a rebel as I have ever come.

Unless of course you consider my staunch refusal to buy over-priced wrapping paper during CPS' big fundraising blitz. But the price of that stuff?  It's criminal.


  1. Good for you! You go girl! I admire you for asking for a bagger! I've been known to start bagging at stores only to have a bagger or two come and almost be indignant that I started doing their work. What I have noticed at our grocery store is only have two or three registers open, even at the busiest of times and then when the lines are halfway wrapped around the store then they call for backup.

    When we lived in Montana (granted six years ago since we moved) the baggers would automatically take your grocery carts out to the car, they wouldn't ask if you needed help. I felt a bit funny with that because some of the baggers were ladies older than me.

    Customer service sure has changed over the years


  2. Little victories!! In Germany you have to bag your own groceries no matter how much you pay for them. The only difference is the level of scornful stare you are subjected to as you scramble to do it.

  3. You rebel you! Next thing you know you'll be painting protest signs and marching outside public buildings!

  4. Would somebody explain to me the advantage of the self check out line at Dominicks? If they gave you a discount off the products you were buying I could see it, but, you're not only paying the full price to do the cashier's job, you're also bagging it too.

    My favorite is when they ask if I need help out to my car. Yes, I know they're being nice and I appreciate it, still, I'm like I just ran 6 miles and lifted weights in the gym for 30, do I look like I need help? One time I'm going to say, "yes please".

    Or when I'm in the milk section and someone asks, "do you need help"? I usually answer "yes, but my therapist isn't here is he"?

    Isn't it a wonderful country that we live in when this is one of our complaints?


  5. Wow! I will no longer take it for granted that the cashiers at most of our grocery stores scan things and put them right into the bags. I almost feel guilty when they are trying to be so efficient with the reusable bags! So cool that your request was honored!

  6. Good for you, you little rebel! I would have definitely caved under the pressure.

  7. I like it! I can't say I can relate though. In the store where I grocery shop, there's like three of those baggers fighting over who gets to bag the box of Poptarts. Then as I'm walking out of the store with my one bag and my lone box of Poptarts, they're all, "Can we help you out with your groceries, ma'am?" I suspect there's rumors that someone's getting fired...

  8. so...I stop in Dominicks today to pick my medication,(18 pak of MGD, bottles) and as I'm speeding thru the store because that's how us men shop. Bing Bam Boom...we know what we want, we know where it is, get out of my way. So I'm making great time, the green flag is out, and I see this cart coming out of an aisle. I'm thinking, "ok this person is about to ram me...I'll take evasive action and give em the finger, I mean a dirty look." The cart is growing bigger and bigger it's now completley blocking my path and I begin to see who the operator lovely wife. I'm like "hi Dear".

    So O.T. here, having lunch with the wife and were discussing Dominicks (because after 30 yrs. of marital bliss,this is what we talk about,sad I know, when we used to talk about when we were young, how we got loaded at Groucho's and ok, moving on) how she told the mgr of Dominicks how it's so inconvient to shop there now. Before, you just showed your card and got the card price. Now the wife tells me you have to go online BEFORE you go shopping and pick out what it is you're going to buy otherwise you don't get the card price. WTFFFFFFF....isn't this why they call it "SHOPPING"? Sorry, I won't go back there...except maybe for my meds.

  9. Yes! This is awesome. A few months ago I was having trouble with cashiers not accepting my coupons for random reasons. Coupons I printed off the stores website even! Every cashier had his or her own policies. I got so frustrated that I actually wrote a letter to corporate and complained. I've never done anything like that before, but it sure felt good to get a response and so far I haven't had any more problems.

  10. above is the sad life of MBF, I just forgot to sign my name I was in such a tizzy about this shopping mess and not visiting Grouchos in like 35 yrs. Kids that's was when PONG was the hit computer game..that's how old I am. But I'm still cute as a button and rambling here before I go to work to make new friends which I'm making alot of lately),anyhew,
    but Marianne, you probably suspected it was one of my personalities writing you anyway I right?


  11. Yay Marianne! Thank you for taking a bullet for the rest of us mums all over the world.
    Here is oz they bag for you - not at Aldi (the big bagless box store) at our local small supermarket and then they ask if you want help to the car.