March 24, 2013

The Picky Bagger

Dear Sir or Madam, 

It is not in my nature to take a blog post I wrote and send it as a letter of complaint, but it occurred to me that the snarkiness that makes for such a great blog post would so aptly convey my annoyance, that it seemed not only appropriate but necessary.  You see, my mother was in from out of town and offered to watch my kids while I went grocery shopping alone.  This was, in fact, a highlight of my week.  

What should have been a wonderful and gloriously uninterrupted shopping trip was completely ruined by my experience at the checkout.  I understand that I live in a college town and sometimes have limited expectations about the somewhat carefree students who work around town, but my bagger today was a grown man and he was completely useless.

He looked a bit like this too.
Now I freely admit that I am a pretty picky bagger.  Quite a few of your employees may even know me as "The Picky Bagger" lady because I have referred to myself as such on many occasions to many of your cashiers.  I did this job many years ago at a grocery store that did train it's baggers.  I was one of them.  Well, actually I was a cashier, but we were trained in how to appropriately bag groceries because it was part of our job and the people who owned our store were not interested in getting letters like this one.

I could get into the basics of building "walls" in the plastic bags (with boxes) and filling in the "bottom" created between these walls with heavier items, which leaves a space to be filled with lighter and/or more fragile items.  You know, the things that you don't want to be smashed by heavier things?  This isn't rocket science.  It is, however, a concept that escaped my bagger.  Thankfully for me I didn't have an serious "fragiles" like bread or eggs.  I think the worst casualty was a misshapen Lunchable box. Thankfully I stopped him from putting my grapes in the same bag with my extra-large-sized cans of crushed tomatoes because I'm just not into making my own wine.  

I mean, do I seriously have to stop this type of thing from happening?  Do you seriously NOT understand that squishy, juicy grapes do not belong in the same unstructured plastic bag with several 2-pound cans of tomatoes?  Why is this necessary?  Does this guy grocery shop?  Does he own a refrigerator?  Does he utilize toiletries that he purchases and bags in the same bag as his frozen foods? (keep reading)  I mean, he has a paying job and (I assume) dresses himself every morning, which speaks to some level of intelligence.  It is a mystery to me that he cannot determine for himself that these things should not be bagged together.

In one of my bags was a bag of frozen potatoes (please keep in mind the probability of condensation) and a box (of the thin cardboard variety) of pantyliners (please keep in mind the concept of absorbency).  If I have to explain the potential for disaster in this situation you need more help than I can send you in a letter.  I could have bagged everything better with my eyes closed and my one-year-old screaming at me from the cart--which is usually how I accomplish my checkout routine.

Not only were things mixed with other things inappropriately, but my cold items were spread out into many bags and singularly bagged with a bagfuls of non-cold items.  This, despite the fact that I pretty handily arranged them on the belt in groups: cold items, health & beauty items, meat, produce and grocery.  It SHOULD have been easy to keep the items together and to bag them TOGETHER.  Obviously it would make them easier to put away when I get home--which is important to me even if it's not the ultimate goal of the bagger--but more importantly it can aid in food safety by keeping cold items grouped together and the non-food/health & beauty items away from the other food items.  Oh yeah, and it also would have been COMMON SENSE to do so.

And just for the record, I have had the same experience with the college kids, and with old ladies who work there.  Little old ladies!  And to top it all off, someone from your company called me many months ago to take a customer satisfaction survey and this was the very thing I spoke to that person about.  The ONLY complaint I had.  Clearly, my advice was not heeded.  

Well if you didn't hear me before, please hear me now:  TRAIN YOUR BAGGERS!  

The Picky Bagger
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March 7, 2013

Moo's Got Talent! I Got Nothin'.

Disclaimer 1:  I really hate disclaimers at the beginning of blog posts.
Disclaimer 2:  I wrote this post months ago and felt so terrible that I couldn't publish it.  However, in the interests of trying to post more frequently, cleaning out my drafts and being honest here, I have decided to kick this baby out of the nest.

Tonight I live up to my blog name.  Tonight I was ultra, crappy-ass, NOT-super-mom.  At bedtime Moo says "You know America's Got Talent auditions are coming to our area, right?"  Uh, no, but thanks for the info??  Actually I said exactly--nothing.

I had no idea what to say.  How can I explain to my somewhat shy and fairly intelligent daughter that this is just not something that she needs to partake in.  And furthermore, WHY?!?!? (I scream in my head) do I even NEED to explain to her that it is just completely outside of the realm of possibility that she would ever be on that show?!?  I know, I know, crappy-ass, not-so-super mom here, (remember what you're reading). I should be encouraging and finding ways to fire up her imagination and--I just couldn't do it.  I didn't have the patience or the imagination myself to come up with anything that wasn't precisely just shitty.  Shitty.  

I was like, "I really don't want to discourage you, but you do understand that these people are competing for a show in Las Vegas, right?  I mean, they are doing magic and acrobatics and laser shows." (Sometimes all in the same act.)  Moo, "Yeah, I know.  That's why I have to come up with something really amazing."  I should be proud, I really should, but I just find it stupefying that she thinks she can do anything that would get here near that show.  And I feel like a crappy-ass super dream-crusher.  

Here's the irony of it all--I was a theatre major in college.  I should be the one encouraging her yearnings to perform and finding an outlet for some of her dream-chasing.  We did do a Christmas play last year and I did sign her up for Stage Camp this summer.  But I am also living in East Bumblestick PA.  Not the Big Apple, not LA.  I did not move to the city so many moons ago, because I was not ambitious or driven enough to chase those dreams myself.  My degree is in Technical Theater because that was the "practical" choice, but even the "practical" choices in Theater are really still require a drive and ambition I just don't seem to possess.

I still feel guilty reading this.  What I should possess is the selflessness and encouragement of a mother who wants her child to dream big dreams and follow them, but that feels a little foolish and, well, impractical.  I want to be encouraging and inspiring but usually my more realistic side wins.

And honestly I feel like it's a daily battle when Disney and Nickelodeon try to make these child stars seem so down-to-earth and real to our kids.  I mean, of course they are real people, but their lives are not "real" in the grand scheme of our daily living.  It is just NOT typical to have a successful acting/singing career in your tween and teen years.  They would not have our children think so.  It's like something else you can simply choose to do, like joining the soccer team or playing an instrument.  THAT is what bothers me.  Are those kids talented?  Sure. (Mostly, I think.)  But I don't think those companies/networks properly convey how unique their lifestyles are.  This is why American Idol has weeks of "audition" episodes--because anyone and everyone thinks they can just do it because they want to.  Not necessarily because they are talented enough and/or trained hard enough to do so.

And anyway, that's entirely NOT the tangent on which I wanted to fly off.  My whole point here is that I feel like an abysmal failure as a mother, to not be lifting up my wonderful daughter on a cloud of her dreams when all I can think about is that clouds aren't solid and she'll likely come crashing through and down to the ground sooner rather than later.

And the fact is I think she is so truly wonderful.  She is very smart, gets along well in school, plays clarinet like a boss (which is simply amazing to me since I can't read music to save my life--I may as well be reading Chinese) and she is a Girl Scout (and a much better one than I was).  She's even in another play right now.  She is AWESOME. I am amazingly proud of her.  And there are no acrobatics, magic or laser shows that can beat that.
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