Thursday, August 11, 2005

Baggin' It

Sometimes the world can get you down. That's my hackneyed observation for Thursday, August 11th, 2005.

This morning, I read bad news in the papers and received bad news from friends. The happy anecdote that follows serves as something of an antidote on this dim morning, and I hope that it will bolster the spirits of a few readers.

On Saturday afternoon, I took a break from the studio to do some food shopping. The local grocery store may not be much to look at, but it is surprisingly well-stocked and offers an impressive selection of organic foods. I often spend too long wandering the aisles, studying labels and comparing prices, but I find the routine enjoyable. Depending on my mood, it provides me with a good opportunity to refocus, to stop worrying about the state of the world or the progress of my painting.

This Saturday, I over-loaded my red, plastic basket and proceeded to the registers. The lines were short and I stepped in behind a young lady. I skimmed the magazine rack offerings. (For the record, Jennifer still loves Brad, and the Hilton sisters, American paragons of virtue and social conscience, are reportedly involved in a feud with various Hollywood A-list celebrities.) Lost in a world of photo re-touching and conspicuous consumption, I was startled to notice the cashier scanning the first of my items.

"I don't need you to bag anything. I'll just throw it in these," I said, gesturing toward the three canvas tote bags slung over my shoulder. Almost always, it seems that this statement is greeted with disdain. When I first started carrying tote bags to stores, I decided that I was imagining the dirty looks. Unfortunately, that isn't the case. Though I bag my own items, thereby saving clerks' time and energy, my tote bags typically baffle or annoy the store employees. Go figure.

I began packing my bags while the cashier continued to scan my items. A few moments later, I heard her curse quietly. She'd inadvertently hit the register's power button. "This might take a few minutes," she told me, anxiously. I used to have little patience for such situations, but I've grown more tolerant of brief delays and I also felt sorry for her, recalling my own Food Lion days.

While I waited, a couple stuck in line behind me talked about their dinner plans. I stood and stared out the window, half listening. My interest was piqued, however, when they began to talk about my bags.

"Look at the bags he uses, honey. That's a good idea."

"Yeah, we should use our tote bags. I have, like, three at home just getting dusty."

Then the register came back on line. I paid my bill, shouldered the tote bags and made my way home feeling pretty good, all in all.

Sometimes the little things can seem so satisfying. That was my hackneyed observation for Saturday, August 6th, 2005.


chris@organicmatter said...

Excellent karma, that. I've been meaning to get some canvas tote bags for a while, but I haven't taken the initiative yet. The main reason I'm bothering to make a note of it here is so it's on public record and I feel a little extra pressure to get on the ball.

So I guess what I'm saying is thanks for the opportunity to sort a little bit of my life out on your blog :)

Jewbacca said...

I'm glad you find happiness in carrying a man purse... maybe you should look into surgically removing your penis as well..

chris@organicmatter said...

Please, I believe the preferred term is 'murse.'

Devo said...

I can't remember whether I dreamed this, or whether I actually saw it somewhere... but I'll describe it anyway. I seem to remember some store, somewhere (perhaps it was Black Forest Acres? our local organic, granola, hippie, sustainable shop that carries vitamins, crunchy dog food and everything in between, most impressively: one gallon jugs of Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Miracle Juice... that stuff is mind-blowing, but I digress) that had a barrel of cheap-o tote bags avaiable for anyone who cared to use them to bag their purchases. This was in expectation that they'd bring the bags back and return the ones they didn't need during their next trip and reuse the ones they DID need during their next trip. If I dreamed it, I sure am smart, and should start a company somewhere doing something "good".

As great an idea as this sounds, though, I can't help but feel that it's going to meet a similar fate to the free bike rental idea that Amsterdam tried to implement a few years back. this is the only reference I could find to that practice, given a quick, five second search... I'd like to know what happened to that program...

Hungry Hyaena said...


I'm happy to have the HH comments serve as the springboard for your own "bag measures."


Because Yankee stadium has ridiculous regulations about what can and can not be taken inside, I took a tote bag - read: man purse - to the game last night. When a couple of the people I was with - annual laboratory trip to a ballgame - began making fun of it, saying it looked odd for such a "straight guy" to carry a tote bag, I explained that it was, in fact, my "woman satchel" and that I am a transexual.

This quieted the hecklers down; being co-workers, they aren't really familiar with my deadpan, twisted sensibilities. I'm sure they were even more confused by my wearing a Chicago Cubs hat while cheering for the Texas Rangers. Needless to say, I wasn't a very popular person in Yankees Stadium last night. Sadly, the Yankees won the contest by a run. Damn Yankees.


The good news...some people in the lab tell me that the Amsterdam bike program is thriving and, in fact, other European towns are following suit.

The bad news...the chances of such a program working in the U.S. are probably around, well, 1 in infinity. Am I just a pessimist? I hope so, but I do know that if you tried to institute the program in NYC, every single "public" bike would be "privately owned" within a day.

Devo said...

I know... it's sad. But it IS great news that the program is actually going well! When I was there in '98, it had already been cancelled due to "unintentional privatization" as you observed. I dunno how they overcame that problem, but I'm very happy that they did. It just seems so odd that people would try to take the damn bikes into their tiny, cramped apartments when they know full well that they can just go down to the end of the block and pick up a brand new one! What the hell is the point?

You know, I imagine our American preoccupation with extreme capitalism and the concomitant consumerist ideology that inevitably grows from it might be partially to blame... Big sentences are fun.

Updog said...

I think the bike 'privatization' problem has a simple solution. A small nard-shocker with a sweat sensor will detect when one set of sweaties has been on the seat for too long. When that happens.... KERZANG! Shock to the nards.
Of course it would only be a matter of time before people started swabbing the seat with borrowed sweat...

Jewbacca said...

you can keep your "public" bikes you commie!!