Help me, please, wise reading public…in my zeal to reduce, reuse and recycle I think I might be violating grocery store etiquette. I just can’t tell for sure.
I love shopping at Trader Joe’s, I really do. I love their products, and everyone is happy there – the clerks, the customers, the gal at the demo counter. But there is one thing I just can’t quite figure out.
Trader Joe’s, like other retailers, encourages customers to bring their own bags. At my local co-op this means you can bring your paper grocery sacks back in with you and they will refill them with your groceries. Unfortunately, the co-op’s bags are super-biodegradable, meaning they usually don’t even make it into the house before the handles fall off.
(Once I accidentally went to the co-op with Trader Joe’s bags. Trendy young checkout guy was so disgusted with me he wouldn’t even make eye contact.)
But Trader Joe’s bags are much sturdier. They can be used again and again, and I have a lot of them because I am feeding a hungry horde.
(“Did you know,” cute TJ checkout guy once asked, “That you buy two of everything? Is that on purpose?”)
Lately, however, I’ve noticed that when I bring my bags in I’m getting a less than warm reception. I thought it might be that I was presenting them with a minor inconvenience until the day I noticed one of the managers send a knowing glance at uncharacteristically-crabby TJ checkout gal as she walked by.
“Surely, that couldn’t be directed at me,” I thought. “I’m just standing here with my bags.”
On a subsequent visit, polite TJ checkout gal gently suggested, “These are really nice bags. You can use them for recycling, too. That’s what I do.” In case I didn’t know this because I had myself frozen in 1989 and am just coming around.
So now I’m leaving my paper bags at home. I’m afraid I’m breaking some unspoken bagging rule and everyone is too polite to tell me (although not too polite to drop a series of escalating hints).
So what do you think – have I become one of “those” people – the eccentric, bag-bringing, inconvenience-producing people soon to be hauling in my own handcart and using whole canisters of the disposable sanitary wipes at the entry? Could this be another strange manifestation of “Minnesota Nice”? Have I just missed the point?
Or maybe it’s all three. I think I’ll just have myself frozen.