I have a simple rule at the supermarket: if it has a handle, i don’t need a bag. If it doesn’t have a handle, put it in a bag.
For example, I don’t need gallons of milk or gallons of water in a bag, or if it’s a giant item like a Rubbermaid container. But cans of soup and chicken and small water bottles and toilet paper? Yes. Always.
Today I got both a gallon of water and a six-pack of small water bottles. The small bottles don’t have a handle, they just come encased in plastic wrap. The clerk asks me what kind of bag I want and I say plastic will be fine and the bagger starts to put them into plastic bags. She’s about to put the small water bottles into my cart without a bag, and I point to them and ask, “can I get those in a bag too? Thanks!” She does it, and then suddenly the entire transaction turns into an Abbott & Costello routine. The clerk hears this and asks the bagger, “do you need a bag?” She pulls out a paper bag from under the counter and hands it to the clerk. I say to the clerk I don’t need a paper bag I just asked the bagger to put the water bottles into a plastic bag like all the other groceries. The clerk says “oh, I’m just so used to saying ‘paper or plastic.’
Don’t worry, I have no idea what she meant either. I will cover my mistake by saying phrases that this customer has heard in a supermarket before but don’t really make sense in this context and it will confuse him! Third base!
So the transaction is over and I push my cart and my groceries out the door to the car and I notice something: the bagger put the GALLON OF WATER INTO A PLASTIC BAG AS WELL, probably thinking that when I asked for the small water bottles to be put into a bag that I wanted all of my water-based grocery items put in bags. So now I have to carry a gallon of water, which has it’s own handle, inside a rather flimsy plastic bag, which also has its own handle. I felt stupid. I actually had to grab the handle of the jug anyway because I didn’t want to hold a gallon of water via the plastic and have it drop to the surface of the parking lot.
Sometimes I just…sometimes….