Monday, April 2, 2012
The "There Is a Right Way and a Wrong Way to Pack" Story
It was an ordinary day. Standing in line at the check-out counter at the Giant trying to explain to the lady how to pack a bag of groceries. When I check-out at the grocery store I always like to use paper bags. They are easier to re-use after you take your groceries out of them. Much easier for scooping the kitty litter and putting it in a paper bag with a wide top than in one of the plastic variety that always seem to go close just as I have the pee and poo almost in it. Much easier than the plastic to load with items to take on vacation. Get my point? They actually have some form and shape to them. Anyway, that's not important to this story. I just like to pack my own groceries, but today all the cashiers have baggers so I choose the one that has the oldest lady who I'm sure won't mind if I help her pack my bags. I grab a bag as soon as the groceries come down the chute and I start to pack. She's still talking to the last customer. When I bag I do it with both hands, not like most people who pick up an item in one hand, place it in the other hand, then throw it in the bag. Well, the old lady bagger watched me fill a bag and asked where I learned how to bag so well. I told her I went to school to learn how to bag. "There is a right way and a wrong way to bag groceries, you know," I told her. She looked at me strangely. So did the girl who all of a sudden stopped running my groceries across the scanner. "You didn't go to school to learn how to put things in a bag!" the cashier said. "Yes I did!" I responded. "When I was 16 years old and in high school I got a job at the Acme Supermarket that was in the city on North Queen Street. They sent me to Philadelphia to learn how to run a cash register as well as how to bag groceries." By now they both are listening to me as well as the cashier behind me and a few of the customers. "We had to learn which items had to be taxed and place them at the back of the order. Things that you couldn't eat like paper plates and toilet paper were always taxed as well as cigarettes. When I ran the cash register I had a rack of cigarettes in front of me, above the register, that I could grab a pack for a customer. I had to know how to divide without looking it up on a chart. Still remember that Campbell's soup was 3 for 49 cents, or 17 cents each. If an item was 2 for something, 3 for something, etc., I had to know instantly what one would be so I could punch that in on the register. We had registers that you had actually push the keys. Something was 29 cents you pushed the 20 key and the 9 key. You got it easy today, just running the stuff across the scanner. And, I used to have to walk two miles to work in all kind of weather when I was your age. Just kidding. But, we had to take a test at the end of the week and if we couldn't ring up an order in a certain amount of time after three tries or didn't pack three bags of groceries in an allotted time, we didn't get the job." By now, the lady behind me in line was getting a little antsy, so I thought I should quit talking, but the bagger wanted to know how to bag groceries. "Well, you never have an empty hand. Pick up items with both hands and place them in the bag the same way. Don't pick up the item and then put it in the other hand before you throw it in the bag. Takes twice as long. Always put the heavier items in the bottom with the items that would smash on the top. Cold items should always be in the same bag with the boxed cold items in the bottom so they form a better base. And, if all the items look heavy, double the bag right away. Fill the bags up so the customer has to made fewer trips in from their car when they get home. If you pack two or three bags together, you can make sure that they are all of equal weight. And, don't just throw the stuff in the bag, place it in. So you see there is a proper way to bag," I finished as I worked on my bags of groceries. Funny how the old lady bagger just stood and watched me. No way was she going to touch my stuff, she probably thought. "How long did you work at whatever store you worked at?" the cashier asked. "Called the Acme and I was there for five years. I actually enjoyed it." "I think there's something wrong with you," she said as I put my receipt and coupons in the bag and said, "See you next week." I did smile at both of them as I was leaving. Now, maybe you can see why I usually do the grocery shopping by myself. My wife gets embarrassed when I start telling my groceries tales. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.