Photobucket      Photobucket      Photobucket       Photobucket

Thursday, August 02, 2012

on the bagging of groceries

You probably read a post title like this one and think, "Not of general interest," but hear me out.

I recently went to Trader Joe's, as our supply of fresh fruits and vegetables had dwindled to a few carrots and a half a red pepper.  Incidentally, Trader Joe's is my favorite place to do the grocery shopping... love that store.

 I had Nell with me, happily snoozing in the Ergobaby carrier while I shopped.  At the checkout counter, the man ringing up my purchases thanked me for bagging my own groceries (as I often do at that store; they don't usually have a second person bagging them for you).  He then commented that he's noticed that it's usually the women that shop there that bag their own groceries, and most often mothers with one or more young children in tow.  It's because women are forced to learn how to multi-task more than men are, he theorized.  He regularly sees women with a baby in a baby carrier or a young child by the hand, bagging their own groceries and then carrying everything out to their cars singlehandedly.  I asked if men bag their own groceries, and he replied, "Almost never."

Then I asked if he bags his own, to which he answered, "Always!  I don't trust anyone else to do it."

Which brings me to the second half of this post.  

I hope this isn't a controversial or offensive topic.

When I shop at places like Stop & Shop or Shaw's, the people bagging my groceries usually do indeed do a terrible job.  Sometimes it's putting a bag of apples on top of a soft loaf of bread, or peaches on top of lettuce, or sometimes it's just that they use way too many bags for my items -- I've literally found a carton of eggs or a loaf of bread in a bag all by itself.  

I would just ask to bag my own groceries, but here's the thing: Often the people working these jobs are handicapped.  I'm glad they have jobs, and I don't want to undermine their work by demanding to do my own grocery bagging.  However, I also don't want squashed bread, bruised fruit, crushed lettuce, and extra bags going to waste.

I'm hoping I'm not the only one who's encountered this conundrum.  


Do you bag your own groceries?

Are you a man or a woman?

{just curious on that one, if the guy's theory holds true or not}

Would you rather eat a bruised apple and support your grocery store employing the handicapped, or politely decline the assistance and bag your own groceries, even if someone is already there beginning to bag them for you?


  1. I'm a woman. :) I let others bag my groceries, but I usually try to keep an eye out and politely request a change if he/she seems about to dump the apples on top of the lettuce. Then again, I'm usually keeping my two eyes on three boys, so I rarely have an extra eye, and I just deal with the occasional squashed produce.

  2. I almost always shop at SPD and I think they would be really offended if I bagged my own! I have at other places if they are busy, but otherwise no. And I really dislike squashed food so I think I would try to direct or help if the bags were being poorly done. I really like SPD, I had never thought about their bagging but they generally do a good job. And they automatically take my groceries out and take the cart back - so nice! Before Justin I used to shop at two other places as well, but the whole cart thing made me a devotee.

  3. When I was a little girl going to the grocery store with my mom I thought bagging groceries was the best job I could imagine, and wanted to do it when I grew up (not, of course, truly understanding the "type" of job that is). I love bagging my own groceries, because I am very particular about how it is done, and it appeals to my love of order and organization. My kids think bagging groceries is fun too, and my 4 year old can do it decently well. However, none of us gets the chance very often because we mainly shop at a military commissary, where the baggers are UNPAID, rely solely on tips, and usually are motivated to do a proper job, and take it all out to the car for a few bucks. So, that's where we are for now :)

  4. Hmmm...I guess I would have to go grocery shopping first to be able to answer this question. (I'm male.) No, actually, I do know my way around a grocery store, and I only bag my own groceries if I'm in the self-checkout line. However, I'm also unclear about this problem you have with fruits and vegetables, since I don't buy either. When you buy mostly things in boxes, it doesn't really matter so much...

  5. I also thought, as a little girl, that bagging groceries must be a wonderful job. I remember telling my mom that I wanted to be a bag lady when I grew up. Then she gently explained to me that 'bag lady' meant something else. Anyway, today I enjoy bagging my own groceries when I'm in a self-check-out lane, but other than that, I let the employees who are there bag them for me. I do, however, place my items on the belt in a strategic order, as my mother taught me, with the heavy items going on first in the hopes that they'll end up at the bottom of the bags.

  6. I am so totally with you right there! I always struggle between wanting to bag myself, giving gentle reminders not to smash produce, and then having to rearrange items when I get out of eye-sight, grumbling about my bruised bananas. If it's a bagger I'm familiar with I generally let them do their thing. I think I've given easy reminders enough. But if it's a new bagger I never know what to do. If there is no bagger in sight, then I'll happily and hurriedly start bagging my own and try not to be too emphatic when a bagger does dash over to help, and I try and happily tell them I don't mind doing it and they are free to go help someone else. Gah, it sort of works, but I feel conflicted every time. And I do end up with bruised produce sometimes. Glad I'm not the only one with this issue.

  7. Sometimes I wonder to myself if there is even a point to buying peaches, because they ALWAYS get damaged by poor handling in the checking out/bagging process. In fact, the only peaches that ever seem to make it home alive are the boxed ones for Trader Joe's! I never thought to bag my own groceries though - I don't feel like I've ever seen anyone do it, and I guess I feel a little rude?

  8. Anonymous11:27 AM

    GGD 7:45 AM
    I am a guy. Never thought of bagging my own. Interesting. I guess I am always too busy getting the credit card, the ident card and watching the prices and being sure I supply the coupons. Wish we had a Trader Joe close by. I like the idea of putting the heavy stuff first in line followed with the soft breads. Three cheers to you for making the effort to come to CA. Remind Nell that she met her GGD and GGM on the trip.