Self bagging

Trader Joe's
One luxury I have missed about the US is the grocery store bag help. In the UK, shoppers have to put their own groceries into bags.

I discovered this fact during an embarrassing incident in Tesco, Britain’s largest retailer. The cashier and I smiled politely at each other, staring at the products I had just paid for, wondering why no one was putting them into bags.

For months, I struggled to empty the cart, take out my wallet, pay, then pile it all into bags — often while the shopper behind me was pushing their things onto the scanner.

After a few years, though, I became adept enough at shopping multi-tasking that I started texting while emptying, packing and paying.

This once led to the smashing of a jar of salsa on the tile floor of a Tesco Metro. The store employees were incredibly efficient in cleaning it. I was incredibly apologetic.

In our local grocery stores here in the US, like Trader Joe’s, I stand and watch while cheery workers whisk our goods into bags. I feel silly, standing there, while they work so hard, and I try to help — but they shoo me away.

I want to explain that in my grocery glory days, I was able to unpack, pay, and bag, while texting — (sometimes) without dropping anything.

But they don’t need my help. Often, there are two folks at check-out, making me feel even more like a spare part – a drone that simply pushes a cart.

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1 Response to “Self bagging”


  1. 1 ~ Jan~ November 16, 2009 at 3:03 am

    Amusing post! 🙂 When I first moved to the USA in 2004, I took with me our Aussie Safeway’s green environmentally friendly bags. When I took them to the supermarket I became known as the ‘Aussie lady with the green bags’. Years down the track I am pleased that similar bags are catching on in the US.

    Now that you are back in the US…you should take them up on the ‘Do you want help out?’ with your groceries to the car. lol I was blown away at that one living in the US…unheard of in Australia.

    Cheers!
    Jan 🙂


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