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


  1. I am still laughing. I used to work in retail and I am also a picky bagger. My kids knew how to bag by the time they were 8, so I wonder about these cashiers. Can't they get the concept a sweaty container of milk does not belong next to toilet tissue wrapped in thin paper? It defies all logic.

    1. AAAhhh, misery loves company! Apparently this problem is rampant in America. And to add insult to injury, we are now paying so much more for everything (in this terrible economy) only to have our more-expensive goods manhandled and mistreated! A travesty!

      A solution though: ask the bagger to UNLOAD your cart, whilst you bag your stuff logicly and exactly how you'd prefer!

  2. This is so funny, because the exact same thing happened to me TODAY. I bring my own bags, and I know that throws off the baggers, but I have noticed that all "bagging rules" fly straight out the window when they have to fill my reusable bags. I even put all the "non food" items on the counter first, all together, so it would be easy to just bag them together. But for some reason that did not happen. And the guy kept apologizing for his bad job, and assuring me that he usually did a much better job, but that they never trained him on "these" kind of bags. Seriously? It's just like you said... does he ever grocery shop? Does he own a fridge? Perfect.
    Thanks for the laugh, ~Jeannine

  3. I do occasionally remember to bring my own bags, but you're right, it doesn't really help the situation. And they have ACTUAL bottoms and structure, but I guess that's no match for a lack of common sense.


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