It’s In The Double-Bag

So, I am at Walmart scanning and bagging almost $200 worth of groceries, when the employee that “monitors” the self-service checkout lanes leaves her station, and walks over to me.

“Why are you double-bagging all of your groceries,” she asks without saying hello.

“Excuse me?”

“You don’t need two plastic bags every time,” she instructs. “You’re wasting our bags!”

Busted! I openly acknowledge that I nearly always use two bags to secure my groceries, even when the weight of the contents doesn’t require double-bagging. I also acknowledge that on occasions in the past, I’ve worn a belt with suspenders.

It’s true. I do feel entitled to two bags when probably I shouldn’t.

I nearly always bring one or two shopping carts in from the parking lot, just to help out, and to ensure that I have one for myself inside.

I’m also one of the rare shoppers, who takes out one of the eleven remaining good eggs in a carton –– rejected by shoppers because it has a single broken egg in it –– and adds it to another discarded carton to complete the dozen.

I’ve even been known to wipe up a spill or two on the floor, so no one slips and sues the company for millions.

From my standpoint, I’m entitled to walk out of the store with a free brisket every week!

“You’re wasting our bags,” she repeats.

It’s late at night, and I’m tired. Admittedly, I found her pleas more nettlesome than I might have otherwise.

“If you don’t like the way I’m bagging the groceries, please feel free to come around here and bag them for me –– you know, like employees used to before you were born,” I chirped.

“That’s not my job.”

“Okay, then I will bag my groceries my own way, if that’s alright with you.”

“I just don’t understand why you are wasting bags. Why do you always use two?” she asks.

“Because the bags are weak, and I don’t want the handles to break or the bottoms to split open.”

“Well, that’s because you are putting too much stuff in each bag,” she explains. “If you took half of that stuff out, and put it in a different bag, then you wouldn’t need to double-bag.”

[Ten seconds of me just staring at her.]

“You want me to split these items in half, and put half in a different bag?” I ask. “So, that way I don’t have to double-bag?”


“Wouldn’t I be using the same number of bags to hold the same number of items?”

“No, because you are not double-bagging.”

[I’m pressing two fingers into my left eye, trying to make it stop twitching.]

“Okay, so here I have a jug of milk and a bottle of juice, double-bagged,” I say. “If I take the milk out, and remove the double-bagging, and just put the milk in this single bag, and the juice in that single bag, I’m still using two bags for two items.”

“No, because you are not double-bagging them, so it’s not the same number of bags.”

“Is this like that Common Core math stuff I keep hearing about?” I ask.

“Never mind,” she sighs. “You just don’t get it.”

Intimidated by the growing number of onlookers, who were gathering I believe for the comic relief, my bag monitor returns to her station, and resumes staring into her phone.

I thought about calling the manager over, but there were times in our conversation where I thought she might actually be the manager.

“Excuse me,” I beckon. “Will you show me how to ring up eleven eggs instead of a dozen?”

– John O. Marlowe is an award-winning columnist for Sagamore News Media.