Once more I feel the need to remind you this is not the "Sensible Fear of the Month". I've been a little backlogged since August when it comes to sharing my fears, and although this one is pretty dumb, I just had another run in with it yesterday. It served to remind me just how bad I can be in high pressure situations where I'm being watched... and probably judged.
When I say bagging groceries is a high pressure situation, I mean it. If the supermarket isn't busy, it's not that big of a deal. You can take your time and be sure you have the right combination of items in each of your bags and you can ensure the checkout girl, or lady, or fella is impressed with your bagging skills (a very important and underrated part of the shopping experience).
But I can't remember the last time I went to the supermarket and it was dead slow. Every time I seem to go I'm in a massive lineup and everybody is in a huge rush to get home and watch hockey (I have no problem making broad assumptions about how people are gonna spend the rest of their nights). You have to do something when you are waiting in line, whether it be guess what people have planned or silently judging them based on food selection.
When I was but a wee lad, there was someone at the end of the checkout line who would bag your groceries for you. This worked out great because not only would that stimulate the economy, it would help hide my ineptitude under pressure. These people were pros. Their bread and butter was knowing where to put your bread and butter so that they both would remain fluffy and... buttery for the journey home. However much like checkout people themselves, they were soon replaced. Unlike checkout clerks though, they were replaced by you, not by robots.
I would much rather leave the bagging up to a machine. Their cold, tactical way of thinking and apathy towards looking like a moron would really work wonders for the bagging portion of the checkout. Fun fact: While trying to find that picture up there I searched for "Shopping Robot". I would be remiss if I didn't include my favorite picture from page 1 of that image search.
I was at the store yesterday, and it was a terrible experience (granted, every day I have a terrible experience). First they ask me how many bags I'm going to need? It is incredibly difficult to summon up some Good Will Hunting powers and look at the random mish-mash of crap I've put on the conveyor belt and know exactly how many bags I will need. If I say too many? Well they charge by the bag now and that adds up. If I say too few? I have to swallow my pride and ask for more while the checkout person is helping the next customer. Then they both know I'm crappy at this.
I don't know why, but I feel that if I got the number of bags to perfectly correspond with the amount of food I had that a police officer (who just happened to be passing by) would be impressed and ask me to join the force and use my rare skills to investigate crime. I'm pretty sure that's what the TV show "Numbers" is about.
Once you are done and have paid, now comes the part where you actually have to "shut up and bag". This is by far the worst part of the shopping experience. There are things that you have to consider when bagging, like not to put bleach with... well, anything. That one is pretty basic, but a checkout girl once told me that if I put apples with bananas it causes the bananas to go rotten faster. I thought she was a dirty liar, so I put that to the test and she was right. Definitely added a new dimension to things.
The checkout itself is full of surprises. Some places have a two conveyor belt system, which alleviates some of the pressure because the next customer's groceries can go off to the side as you focus on the task at hand. However the place that I go only has one, so you're in a race against the clock to put your items in bags before the next person is done. With every "beep" you hear, their items get closer and closer to yours and in those moments, you can panic and make a hasty decision. A hasty "uhh... yeah milk on top of bread" decision.
One of these days, I'm just gonna make a perfect storm of terrible decisions regarding number of bags, selection of items and bagging strategy and I'm going to just sit down on the floor and start crying. Sometimes now when I feel I drop the ball at this stage of the grocery game I feel that way. This is where you would probably say:
"Nobody is watching you or judging you while you do those things".
To that I simply respond:
"Bullsh*t, what do you think I do when I'm behind you in line?".
Back off. Secondly, which Super Bowl MVP quarterback once worked as a grocery bagger? Kurt effin' Warner, that's who!
Thanks for Reading