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Beware the Bagger

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by Bonnie Wurst – Montreal Times

“Please don’t put the box of laundry detergent on top of the eggs,” I pleaded to the young man who was packing up my groceries while I kept one eye on the cash register.

“Oh, uh… ya’ sorry,” he replied, lifting the five pound box out of the bag.

Crisis narrowly averted, the eggs were safe. But apparently not the bread.

“No, no! Not on top of the bread!” I cried out, but it was too late. My loaf of multi-grain had been instantly transformed into a multi-crushed-grain pancake.

The bread was replaced – and so was the bagging boy after he put the ice cream in with the hot BBQ chicken.
“Umm, thanks,” I said to the unfazed bagger. “But I’ll take it from here.”

“Oh, okay,” he said and moved on to the next unsuspecting victim just one aisle over.

The cashier didn’t even blink an eye as she continued to ram items down the conveyor belt, oblivious to anything that just transpired – even the blueberries that had fallen out of their container and were being crushed in a chick pea and lentil can back up. When I pointed it out to her, she simply rolled her eyes as if I was being unreasonable and went back to her Rambo checkout technique.

My point of contention is mostly with today’s baggers. I pack my own groceries now, even if it causes a line-up at the cash. I see no other option. And I blame corporate management for this more than the underpaid, undertrained employees they throw on to the floor and who come and go faster than their paychecks.

They aren’t trained properly, if at all, nor are they monitored until a complaint is made. Especially in the larger chains. Even most of the cashiers today, often the younger ones unfortunately, are either naive or simply arrogant. Pay them peanuts, treat them with minimal respect, offer no incentive and you have the new twitter-book generation of mega-market employees. I get ecstatic to the point of delirium when I am served by somebody who is not angry or bored with the work they do.

Today’s baggers fall into the following categories for me:

THE CRUSHER – Eggs and bread are the primary victims of this bagger, but berries, veggies, spaghetti noodles, chips, cakes or any soft packaged items can be prey.

THE TEMPERATURE CHIMP – A bagger who likes their BBQ chicken cold and their ice cream in liquid format – or who prefers the convenience of fresh fish being partially cooked before they get home and playing Russian Roulette with a barrel full of E.coli.

THE BAG SPLITTER – Likes to fill a plastic bag with weird shaped or boxed goods only. The sharper or pointier the edges the better and the more randomly placed, the easier to escape confinement.

THE MOUNTAINEER – Will fill up a bag to the point of overflowing, carefully place it in your cart, where the top ten items will dutifully fall out. Or if using an eco-friendly/reusable bag, which is much stronger than plastic, will fill it up until you need a weightlifter to put it into your car or carry it home.

My nightmare: THE CASHIER/BAGGER COMBO – No explanation required.

And finally,

THE FUNDRAISER FREEBIE – Scouts, Soccer Clubs, Animal Rescue and Community groups are now in on the game. They volunteer their services to pack bags and in turn can collect donations for their cause or organization. The store pays them nothing and it makes them look good – at the expense of regular employees getting less hours. And that’s not good. I love the idea of these groups being able to raise money this way and I’ll always throw a dollar or two into their buckets. But I won’t always let them pack my groceries. According to the manager at a Loblaw’s I frequent, they are given the ‘basics’ beforehand – a few minutes ‘or so’ before they hit the floor. Most of these volunteers are often kids with the sincerest of intentions and they are not to be held responsible. So I found a way to work around it by training them myself. I help them fill up the first couple of bags, demonstrating simple techniques and the logic behind it – and then oversee the rest. It takes a bit more time, but they love to learn and the customers behind me benefit greatly from their power training.

I’ll end this with a SHOUT OUT to the corporate gamers really behind it all, those who benefit the most from my hard earned grocery dollars and basic need to consume food: “I am tired of feeling rushed and crushed. I’m prepared to go global – or at least to back up the lines at your checkouts right into your cushy offices. Well, maybe I could be silenced temporarily – with a lifetime supply of unexpired coupons and two for one specials. Try me.”

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