Friday, October 19, 2007

Because I say so!

I live in California, a hottish kind of a place.

Because I am American, I have a refridgerator the size of a coffin in my kitchen. It is standard fare and comes with the building.

Because I am English, I insist upon sorting my purchases at the check out. At the check out, they play Russian roulette with my groceries and toss them all willy nilly into bags.

Because I am Irish, I do not need my 10 lb sack of potatoes placed in a flimsy little plastic bag. Because I am Scottish, I use every money off voucher I can lay hands on. Since all Brits are really German, Picts and Danes because WASPs died out years ago, I must insist that like goes with like.

Because my mother in law is Italian, I fold my arms across my chest to stop the wild gesticulations that are bubbling up. I pout at the checker as she mixes frozen spinach with a cereal box and a tub of yoghourt. Does she know nothing? I am sorely tempted to slap her hands away and do it myself, but it is un-American to pack your own bags. Nothing says ‘foreigner’ more loudly that the idiot who packs their own bags. You might as well shoulder your bagpipes and dance the Highland fling in the aisle. There is only so much free thinking and freedom of expression, permitted in the average supermarket.

Because my sister in law is Chinese, I know that I was born in the year of the rodent. I decide I will smile and think ‘om’ thoughts, instead of swearing ‘rats!’

I will not think about the next 60 minutes, where I will collect my children from school with a car full of groceries. We will eventually return home with a car full of warming groceries and sweaty children. The children will run into the house. The bags of shopping will not.

I need to be able to grab two bags on my ‘in flight.’ One will be stuffed into the freezer, one will be shelved in the fridge, still within their bags, for later, probably much later. Everything else, collateral damage, will remain in the car until it is dark and everyone is asleep, except me. In the still of the night I shall unpack my groceries. I do not wish to find thawed spinach, fermenting yoghourt and soggy cereal.

I mop up the slime in the boot of my car in the moonlight, because I am genetically grumpy, and sulk. I think of my daughter in Mozambique, who bathes in the sea to wash, because to collect well water is a time consuming and arduous exercise.

I exchange pout for pleasure, it is a fair trade. I stop sulking and swim up to bed to sleep a few sweet dreams.


Awesome Mom said...

That bugs the heck out of me too and I have grown up in this lovely country. I usually go to a grocery store where you bag your own groceries to save money so I am normally able to get them how I like. Sometimes when there is a huge line they will bag for you and then my blood starts to boil. I like to keep refrigerated stuff separate since I usually leave the nonperishable stuff out in the car for my husband to bring in later.

Linda said...

Grocery stores in California must be better staffed than those in Connecticut as one generally ends up bagging one's own groceries here, which is okay because I prefer to keep the perishables with the perishables and so on. Plus there is nothing worse than trying to lug in a flimsy plastic bag chock full of heavy canned goods that threatens to break open and spill all over the floor and one's toes.

I have been thinking of giving the order-off-the-internet, have-it-delivered-to-your-home method that my friend in California so dearly loves. Then someone else can lug the groceries into the house for me!

flutter said...

I love this, just because.

Veronica said...

This is beautiful.

buffalodickdy said...

15 years ago, where we shop had baggers separate from the check out person, and in some stores they would wheel them out to your car and load them for you. Nothing illustrates how the standard of living has gone down more than this. Now the checkout person loads bags on a wheel-like lazy susan, you put them in your own cart, and haul them out to the car and unload them yourself. Thousands of more lost jobs, just for profits. Of course, crabbing about this is stupid compared to what your daughter has to deal with daily!

whitenoise said...

Our supermarkets gained "U-scans" in the past couple years. When the other lines are unbearably long- one goes to a u-scan and does everything self-serve under the watchful eyes of cameras and computerized anti-theft devices.

I'm not sure what to think of the process, but most of the time it is faster.

mumkeepingsane said...

I can't bring myself to break the unspoken rule of not bagging my own groceries. I line them up in groups and hope for the best. I take it back if I get home and find a can in with my bread...I can't feed the kids flat bread. I also make sure they know I don't want meat juices in the bottom of my cotton bags....common sense anyone?

My husband, however, practically pushes the bagger out of the way, grabs bags and if the bagger is an idiot my husband will repack right in front of him. *sigh*

Heidi said...

Husband and I always have an argument at the checkout and only now do I realise that it's an English thing! He has this elaborate system for packing groceries, and is therefore easily wound up if his system is ignored.
Husband: 'I hate it when you do that! It really does my head in!' (me packing toast with the apples)
Me: 'well I picked yet another pair of your dirty underwear off the floor this morning and that does my head in, so we are quits'
I can't believe we have only been married for four years.

Hammer said...

I do all the grocery shopping and can relate to this post completely.

Often I shove the pimply twerp bagging my groceries aside and bag myself when he piles cans of soda on top of my bread and frozen dinners next to the school supplies.

riseoutofme said...

On a recent visit to my sister in the U.S., I insisted that we bring our own bags AND that we pack them ourselves. All the while smiling.

The checkers smiles were extremely tolerant if a little bemused.

After all, we had selected, loaded and paid for them. Whats it to them if we want to stuff them up our jumpers or down our trousers or into mingy cotton bags???

Variety has to be the spice of life, n'cest pas?

Anne said...

I learned a long time ago to unload the cart so like items went down the belt together, thus (hopefully) get bagged together. I send the boxed stuff down, and the fridge stuff together, etc., and bread is always last so it ends up on top.

The new grocery in town has self serve aisles so you scan your own items, and there is often a bagger at the end for me. go figure.

Anne said...

Oh, I'm a "rat" too.

And I can't stand it when they bag my milk.

The Anti-Wife said...

I'm a rat too!

I personally don't care how they get in the bag as long as I don't have to carry them individually to the car.

Almost American said...

We seem to mostly have pretty good baggers - they do seem to try to put like items together. Occasionally we get one who puts all the heavy things in one bag though and that drives me nuts.

It helps if I send stuff through on the conveyor belt in groups. It also helps when we bring our own bags as a couple of them are the insulated kind and that clues them into the fact that we want all the frozen/cold things packed in those bags. We also help the baggers - they bag and we bag too, which means the bagging gets done faster - a good thing when the store is busy (as it almost always is when we go food shopping.) My Dear Husband is American born and bred and has no problem helping with the bagging. Oh, and our baggers almost always put the milk separately on the child seat in the cart, which I like :-)

Once we get home, everyone helps with the bags - DH and kids included. The trick is having some bags light enough for the kids to help with.