Friday, October 23, 2015

Bagging for the Bag -- A Guest Column

Hi, there. My name is Brittany (or Courtney . . . Ashley . . . Jasmine). I’m a grocery bagger. We’ve probably met somewhere. Well . . . not actually met, but I’ve bagged your groceries. Of course, I wouldn’t really recognize you because I’ve never looked at you. For that matter, I probably never talked to you, either. Smiling is what I do best, especially when Mason, Kyle, Austin, or Jordon are working my shift.

During my 45 minute training, the boss explained how we get paid, when we get paid, and when we get breaks. He told us who to call if we can’t make it, and made us read the probation policy aloud. Then he told us three important things to do: smile, double-bag only when asked (don’t offer), and if a customer has his own bags, we should use them first. I trained for one hour standing next to an experienced bagger (Kyle was my mentor and he’s been here six months!) and watching. Then it was my turn to try it and Kyle watched. Awesome.

But oh, is the job boring. Sometimes it’s funny to think about what a particular customer has bought . . . like the fat lady who buys candy and ice cream and maybe one healthy food like hotdogs. Today there was an old man who bought two huge bottles of wine with a coupon, so he hardly paid anything for them. It looked like he was unscrewing the lid on one of them while he was carrying his bag out. Mason winked and made me blush when he saw me staring at the man. Last week a bag with two dozen eggs in it broke by the person’s car. Boy, was that lady ever mad about it. She blamed the bagger (not me, but Austin who was at the next checkout stand). How was he supposed to know she didn’t have a good grip?

We all hate using the cloth bags shoppers bring in because they’re floppy, and there isn’t a way to keep them from falling down every time you reach for another product to pack. Some customers bring those big stand up zipper bags with silver linings. They’re awesome because they don't fall over. I use them first because they’re so sturdy. First a couple layers of cans, then the bananas and fresh tomatoes, and if there’s room, more cans, the grapes, and the crackers on top. They can be really heavy and they never break. I don’t know why anyone bothers to put a zipper on them—I never zip them up.

I always put cold stuff in the floppy cloth bags. First, the milk laying down, which makes it easier to pack the next layer with ice cream, frozen turkey breasts, baby food--whatever--before putting in the light stuff, like mushrooms and avocados, and ending with what I can lightly drop in, like Kleenex. I don’t know why people scowl when I pack their bags. It's what they get when they shop here--service! I always force the bags into the carts and quickly turn away so I don't have to help them to their cars. Besides, I need to talk to Mason (or Kyle . . . Austin . . . Jordon).

Today this old woman came in and she had the nerve to tell me she wanted the cold products in that stand-up bag with the silver lining. Who does she think I am? Her servant? I mean, I had to find out when Jordon was taking his break I could show him my latest Instagram). I  laid the milk sideways and she made me set it upright. Sheesh!  I hate being told how to pack the bags. Especially if Austin is talking to me from the next counter. And then the bread. The old bag doesn’t want the bread under the bananas and avocados—or on top of them, either. That woman’s a real bag.

Well, gotta run . . . now is my break! “Hey, Jordon, wait up!”

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