A blog friend and colleague of mine recently shared her annoyance for the grocery baggers who shoot out the dirtiest of looks when you pull out your own cloth grocery bags. As she said in her original twitter comment:
Dear grocery store baggers: Please stop looking so sullen when I pull out my reusable bags. They save your store money.
And of course, I had to chuckle and completely agree because almost every time (save when I bring my Olive Smart bags for some reason) I pull out my own tote bags one of the following happens:
a) Huge sigh from the bagger
b) Knowing looks between the cashier and the bagger
c) The slowest bag packing ever known to woman or man, not to be matched by me having to tell them that they can fit a solid 10 more items in that bag before they try to put it back in my cart.
Seriously, what makes them so miserable?
I realize that they’re unable to just stuff a box of cereal and a gallon of milk in their bag before they whip it into your cart, but in the long scheme of things, I’ve yet to understand what great difficulty it causes them that they would have such a negative reaction.
Of course, I used to roll my eyes at my mom when she would whip out her own grocery bag back when I was a kid, but that was just because she was my mom and it was terribly uncool to bring your own bag. Sort of like bringing your own lunch to school, I guess.
But now? C’mon. There’s no excuse to hate.
[This post was written by Kristen Chase.]
Oh good, I thought I was the only one getting the fuzzy eye. It’s bad enough trying to tell them I don’t need a bag for one item, but wooohoooo if I bust out my own basket or bag. Look out.
Melanie Ruiz says
This is so true! We shop at Food4Less where you have to bag your own stuff anyhow, so it has never been a big deal. But I do frequent Target often and they are always putting the tiniest of things into a HUGE plastic Target bag. I am always pretty quick with my random assortment of canvas bags I have collected over time, and once I get them to take the things out of the plastic bag they have already put some of my items into, they look at me in a confused way, like they don’t know what to do with my canvas bags. So I end up happily bagging my own things as I normally do, not really noticing or caring about what the other shoppers are thinking. I just love being eco-aware!
So true! Glad I’m not the only one to notice most places will put 1 item in a bag. Sometimes I’m busy paying and I don’t notice them putting it in a bag so I remove the item from the bag saying I don’t need it and it’s better for the environment. They seem to agree then throw the bag under the counter after which I think it may be thrown out. Even at natural food stores I feel I’m in the minority with my own bag. I hope this changes.
I feel blessed to live in a community where I can say I have never once had this experience. I cant imagine a possible reason for such a reaction, but I guess everyone needs more reasons to be miserable! Cheers to all in their pursuits of varying levels of happiness.
aw. that’s never happened to me! in fact, i’ve had checkers ask me if i have my own bags. i live in the midwest, which is never leading trends, but it’s very common here. even the little old lady in front of me yesterday had her own bags.
Not an issue here in Colorado, and they don’t have to be told that they can get my whole order into 2 bags.
Also, as for “Seriously, what makes them so miserable?”, probably working minimum wage bagging groceries, it would make me miserable.
Mary Jane Reed says
The MAIN THING that makes them so miserable is that the spindle is not designed for them and the cashier has to adjust their body to place the item in there properly. Coming from someone who already has back issues, it becomes quite uncomfortable and it is a physical strain on the cashier! The ones that stand up by themselves are so much of an issue but the flimsy ones that you have to continuously have to prop up are a “major” nuisance!
The bag itself per se is NOT the issue!
Other things that prove to be annoying is that people have ONE bag and MANY items . . . tell you to fill it up and then complain that it is TOO HEAVY or they have several SMALL bags that only fit 2-3 items in them and they tell you they are NOT FULL ENOUGH!
Don’t get me wrong I am NOT against reusable bags – it’s just courtesy goes both ways! If you are going to use them at least have ones that are suitable to fit your purchases in them or if you are one of those who consistently don’t appreciate how things get bagged perhaps volunteer to bag as the cashier checks!
Jennifer Lance says
I always bag my own groceries.
Then those people can bag their own groceries. Cashiers are also timed on how quick they can scan orders. If u insist on bringing your own bags, then help bag, instead of just standing there!
Jeanine Craven says
I live in San Francisco where you might think everyone walks/bikes/drives a hybrid around in a green bubble. That’s not the case, but while there are many people who use reusable bags, I do notice that if you hand your reusable bag to the checker or bagger it’s a disruption in the flow of the normal transaction. It’s like they have to in some way be a part of your life now by touching your stuff, mingling with your cooties and fiddling with your unwieldy bag. Cashier’s jobs are pretty monotonous and to settle into that monotony it’s not helpful to have to switch gears and refocus on artfully packing different bags each time. It’s not efficient for them or the customers behind us emitting the “wrong line choice” sigh while giving the checkers glares of death. Granted some checkers are pretty chatty and/or lethargic, but adding to their job description seems like asking for trouble. I try to put myself in someone’s shoes before thinking they are rude or out of line. Being green involves many steps, there are more people in our green life than just ourselves, it’s good to keep looking at a bigger and bigger picture — it’s great to pack your own bags too!
Jamie Ervin says
I had a cashier at the hardware store actually argue with me about using my ecobags string bag the other night… he told me his plastic bags made great trash bags in the car. I replied that they still ended up in the landfill that way. (What’s so wrong with taking your trash out of the car EVERY time you get home? Granted my kids think getting in the car = blowing noses, but they can still carry their tissues back out of the car!)
To offset it, I did have a cashier say “Thank you for bringing your own bags”. Either she is a bag believer or trained properly.
What I hate is when they’ve got your purchase whipped into a bag so fast you can’t even blink let alone ask them not to bag it. Our little town market does this… even if you are just buying one item! They bag my Sunday paper if I don’t catch them!!!!! Then when I ask to leave the bag they trash it instead of saving it for someone else!
I am a cashier at a grocery store.The reason we hate your cloth bags is because they do not fit in our bag holders,they fell weird (after 1000 people go through your till you would think so to),items dont fit as well in them and it takes much longer to bag them.Secondly cloth bags are worse for the enviroment then plastic.They contain a high amount of lead and bacteria in them.WE DISLIKE YOU BAG PEOPLE AND YOUR ORGANIC PRODUCE THAT IS NOT ANY BETTER FOR YOU THEN REGULAR PRODUCE.
Matt D says
Kimberly Herbert says
I don’t have this problem. Something I thought of my bags have a little loop at the top of one long side that hooks on their bagging platform (were the plastic bags are kept. This holds the bags up and open – making bagging easier for them. They aren’t having to hold the bag up with one hand and use the other hand to place the items.
Crimson Wife says
I’m also in the S.F. Bay Area, and I have to say that I’ve never noticed any cashier giving my reusable bags a second glance- even at shops that are not your typical supermarket or other large retailer.
Maybe Kimberly H. is right about the type of bag making a difference because mine are like hers with a loop to hook onto their normal bagging platform.
Wow, it’s totally different here. Is Canada that far ahead of the game? Here, most grocery stores, and many department and hardware stores too, sell their own reusable bags (usually for like 99 cents each). One of the largest grocery chains here (Loblaws) has an entire line of reusable bag products, from simple grocery bags to large totes to folding market baskets with metal handles… the ‘canvas’ is made of recycled plastic bottles and when they wear out (which takes a couple years at least, they’re very sturdy!) you bring them back to the store and they’re re-recycled!
When they were first introduced a couple years ago, they even offered discounts on your grocery bill of 3 cents per bag, if you used cloth bags (even if they weren’t their OWN bags).
I’ve seen some stores that instead will charge for using plastic bags, though this is not very common.
Most cashiers, at any type of store, if I’m only getting a couple things and haven’t presented them with a bag, will ask me if I want a bag or if I’m okay.
Occasionally, a clerk might be surprised, mainly in stores that don’t yet sell their own reusable bags. But I’ve never seen disdain. Most people (clerks and regular folk) are like “oh, aren’t these bags great? They can hold so much, and they’re so much sturdier than the plastic bags!” Even ignoring the environmental-impact angle, they’re just easier and better to use.
Though I do have ONE negative story… a clerk had started to put my things in a bag, I stopped her and said I didn’t need a bag (I was just going to carry the stuff). No problem, she said, and took out the stuff and gave it to me. Then she TOOK THE PLASTIC BAG, CRUMPLED IT UP, AND THREW IT AWAY.
Like… it had my stuff cooties and they couldn’t use it for another customer? The whole POINT of me not using a bag was to keep it out a landfill. That, was just bizarre.
I’ve had the same reaction many many times at Wal Mart (the place I bought the bags from!!!!). I don’t think I’ve ever had a positive reaction from a checker at wal mart for my cloth bags. They often actually tell me how much of a pain the bags are. And I just have to play it off like “yeah, I know….but your store sells them!” It usually takes them at least twice as long to bag the groceries than what it would with plastic bags. The other grocery store I go to is nice because you bag your own groceries.
I cashier at a grocery store and a very good portion of customers use cloth bags, including myself. The average cloth bag is very difficult and time consuming to bag with because there is no support. The string bags are the worst…if you like dirty looks use those. But good store brand bags (around a buck) with the loop are actually easier to use than plastic, and take less time to load. I love any kind of reusable bag, even when people reuse their old plastic bags, but I can understand how cashiers & baggers who are not as aware may find it more of a nuisance.
Waw I had no idea that this was still such a big problem. Here in Belgium we are using reusable bags for some time now. The bags are often provided by the store at a very low price. In some stores they even provide a new one when the old one is ripped. In some stores you get extra points (they work with a point system where you get points when you buy certain products or for a certain amount of money. When you have enough points you can get gifts or storecheques for them)for using their reusable bags.
And no dirty looks from baggers for in most stores the customers bag their own groceries.
Amy Robinson says
I have the same problem as well. I even had one cashier at my local Walmart (and I use WALMART’s reusable bags there) complain the entire time she was bagging my groceries about how much she hated those bags and she thought about buying them once, but if she did, it CERTAINLY would not be for groceries. It is so bad that I email Walmart’s customer service to complain. I young lady from my walmart did call me back and was very apologetic…so we will see if it did any good.
Hi. I work as a grocery bagger. Not for Wal-Mart but another store. Just wanted to tell you that was a pretty shity thing to do. Cashiers are judged by the time they scan and bag and Wal-Mart is one of the worst places to work for and you went out of your way to make that poor lady’s job more miserable. She was apologetic because she works minimum wage dealing with scrappy stores, management and customers like you. She does all of that because she can’t afford to lose this soul crushing job.
Don’t do that stuff. Your bags literally get us in trouble, we have a right to complain a bit. I am all for environmentally friendly bags but you need to get bags that are efficient for people working with them.
Plastic bags have always cost extra in Estonia (about quarter dollar each)… Moved to California with my mother, and now she is so used to free plastic bags, when we were in Estonia this summer she kept cursing about having to pay extra. :p
let me give you a little insight from a cashier.
1. if youve ever worked at a grocery store (probably not) you know how mindless and repetitive it is. 30 minutes in, your hands are working and your mind is gone. for me, since most people use plastic, i quickly stick it in a plastic bag. if you give me your bags before i ring up your stuff im fine. but alot of people wait all the way until the end, after most of the stuff is in plastic to give us the bags. then we have to unpack and repack everything and mosg times we dont get an apology or a thank you. and some people practically throw bags at us.
2. we are bombarded with different bagging instructions all day. for hours its “fill them up”, “double bag”, “not too heavy”, “everything in one” “this is seperate” “tie the tops”. so its not that we dont ‘get’ it or dont know how to bag. its actually frustrating that customers assume that. i fill up the canvas bags, but ive had customers tell me its too heavy. ive also had customers buy one tiny thing and tell me to put it in a bag.
for the girl that complained about bagging too fast, some stores rate on how fast you are, and if youre slow, you get taken off the register. wow, ive never heard someone actually complain about that. which brings me back to my point: its like we cant please you guys, no matter what we do. and at 5.00 – 8:50\hr, we all reach that point where we dont care if we do.
Mary Jane Reed says
Amen to that – Yes, I forgot about when they give you the bags when you are half way through the order and half is already bagged! Very Frustrating!!
I just started as a Cashier at Wal Mart about a week ago. In my training I learned about a ton of initiatives that Wal Mart is doing to help people live the “Green” life. I was immediately interested, formally against Wal Mart and the big buisness. So becuase of my interest, a week into working there and I am already being paid extra to head the project of selling 500 cloth bags in a month.
I know at least at my Wal Mart we are really big on cloth bags. they are more difficult to pack as previously stated because we get all different shapes and sizes so it takes a bit more time to pack. But trust me, we are being watched on how many items we scan per hour, so we are not trying to go slow we just want to be sure that your items are being packed correctly and conveniently. Also as previously stated each customer has different requests, some one them overflowing with more then should be in there, some don’t want meats in them in case they leak, etc. and it is really hard when a customer has a ton of items and is still unloading while you are scanning then comes up and gives the special requests.
To save time I would suggest they be the first thing you place on the belt or hand them to the cashier right away, also make any special requests before we start bagging because we can’t read your mind, it will ultimately make things go faster. If the cashier/bag person rolls their eyes or acts rude, don’t be afraid to go up to management and tell them, they do not want obnoxious people working for them that will keep customers away. Finally be patient with us please, a majority of us are working hard to keep you happy, yes we are used to bagging in the plastic bags, so this process may be a little slower. Plus it is difficult to keep them open to start bagging.
Part of my project is to also get the cashier in the routine of asking things like “would you like you meats in a separate bag”, or “how heavy would you like this”, etc before packing. We are going to start pushing the cloth bags “Would you be interested in buying a cloth bag for only .50 cents that I could use to bag your items today”…things like that.
You are always going to have your idiot cashiers and we are always going to have our idiot customers! Just keep in mind, the majority of the people out there are good people!
Susan Keith says
All of these points are valid (except for the old working-for-minimum-wage line – sorry, I worked in retail too. No excuse for being unpleasant.) My personal complaint is that when I buy items, and say “I have a bag”, the cashier usually steps back and drops my items like they’re junk. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bought stuff, in different stores, and when I produce my own bag the cashier acts like it’s no longer her job to pack my purchases! Worse, they often move on to the next person in line, leaving me to struggle with my purchases, my wallet and usually other bags while someone else is right behind me! When, on occasion, I have suggested that things might move faster if I was helped, I have variously gotten a sneer, a laugh, or the answer that it’s “intrusive” to use my bags!! I live in Toronto, which is certainly a rude place, but many stores are charging for their plastic bags now. So, radical notion: how about training your staff to pack OURS??
Man how dumb are all of you. Most normal people at some point in their lives, if you worked at 15 years old bagged groceries and yes it sucks. Think about it this way..would you want to touch someone elses dirty clothes? Than why the hell would someone else want to touch your dirty reusable bag? That’s nasty and unecessary. Your not saving the world so quit trying to be a hero by using clothe bags cause u might not be wasting natural resources but a majority of u buy new clothe bags every now and than anyways and last time I checked they WERE made from either plastic or clothe which is also a natural resource. And why are all of you complaining about using plastic bags..if its sooooo bad..am I right?
“Dear grocery store baggers: Please stop looking so sullen when I pull out my reusable bags. They save your store money.”
Cool, they save our STORE money. They don’t save ME money. Trust me, I couldn’t care less how much Jimmy saves. It’s not going into my pocket. Point taken, point ignored.
If you are so keen on keeping this Earth clean (which the majority of people are, you’re not the only one) then bag your groceries yourself. C’mon, don’t be lazy, it’s all in the name of the environment 🙂
Here’s a typical scenario:
Me: “Sir/Ma’am, would you at least like your meat in a plastic bag?”
Customer: “No, I wash my bags”.
Me: /looks at 20 dirty, dingy, disgusting bags within a bag “Of course you do…”
Half of you wouldn’t be supporting bagging cloth bags if you were the ones having to handle them on a daily basis. They are disgusting. Indeed, bag them yourselves. If anyone’s complaining, it’s you.
Try bagging your own stuff next time, they’ll thank you, and it’ll probably be faster since you won’t be the one worrying about squishing another person’s bread or wondering if they are bothered if their ground beef is next to their box of tylenol. It’s not as easy as it looks trying to hold up the sides of your flimsy cloth bag you’ve washed far too many times. It’s a mini puzzle in every bag. We bag slowly because you’ve most likely put your items in a completely stupid order on the conveyor belt, and since the bags are much larger than plastic bags we have to put in 20+ items without smashing anything.
Plus plastic bags are recyclable.
I understand your frustration with getting dirty looks from grocery store cashiers when you bring your re-usable bags to save the environment. What could eliminate those dirty looks are a few tips from a grocery store cashier.
1. Please place your reusable bags IN FRONT of your groceries. This is considerate. Instead of throwing them on the conveyor belt behind your groceries then getting mad at the cashier for already bagging two plastic bags worth of your items.
2. Please offer to help bag some items if it’s taking to long for the cashier to bag your items. Reusable bags are harder to bag then plastic bags.
3. Please re wash your reusable bags. It’s gross having to touch other peoples bags. Especially when meat like chicken has been placed in them.
4. Give the cashiers a break. Seriously. It is a sucky job for minimum pay and is mind numbing.
I’ve been bagging groceries for Kroger for a little over a year (WAY too long to bear) and I agree with the annoyance of customers with cloth bags. They take longer to pack items and hold the bags in place while doing it. Any human being that bags for hours at a time would know why this is annoying, so don’t blame me for venting my anger. And what do I care if your saving the store money?! Your just another customer looking to make my day worse lol The number one thing I cannot stand more than anything is when customers and managers tell me to smile while I bag for them. I get paid to be here and do my job, not to serve you ;D
Things I hate:
1. People are lazy, they want to carry less bags and whine about climbing stairs.
2. People don’t wash them (you can tell when they have been washed, trust me.)
3. Old people use them and only put two things in them, they are made to be heavy. Can’t lift them? Use plastic.
4. It takes longer to bag them, I don’t just throw stuff in them.
5. People only use them because everyone else does, monkey see monkey do.
6. People tell me to put their meat in with their vegetables, cleaning supplies.
7. People use gigantic Costco bags for a non-bulk food store.
8. People use thermal bags in the winter to keep food cold.
9. When using cloth bags, people automatically become experts and tell me how to do my job, but not when using plastic.
10. People use cloth bags that are obviously not made to carry food.
11. People try to “help” by holding the bags open but their hands are in the way.
12. When people forget their bags until the middle of the order, and begin unpacking EVERYTHING I just did for NO reason. When you give me the bags back I throw them in the garbage 🙂
13. Plastic bags are here to use, not to look at.
Meat ALWAYS goes in plastic, cleaning supplies are ALWAYS kept in a separate bag, I do NOT need your help OR opinion on anything. Not satisfied with my speed or bagging technique? There are almost always self scan machines available for you to use, STOP BEING LAZY!!!
Cate Nelson says
Wow, Matt. If you hate your job so much, perhaps a change would be in order? A note, though: don’t get a job where you rely on tips. Something tells me it wouldn’t be ideal for you.
We tell you to put the meat in our cloth bags because…ahem…they can be *washed*. The issue is that we don’t want to use plastic. We don’t want them filling our house. Or worse, our oceans. But way to take the easy route. I wonder what would happen if everyone did that? Wait–they do. Hence the Pacific Garbage Patch.
If this is as rough as you have it, I’d say you’re doing pretty well. First World Problems much?
So you like not washing your cloth bags and spreading bacteria around to people ? good for you
That was way too harsh. I know this post is old but I stumbled upon it. I’m betting you’re a Republican too.
“If you don’t like that your boss keeps you overtime and cuts your hours, GET ANOTHER JOB. But don’t get one that’s too tough or you’ll probably complain about that too!”
I’m betting you’ve never been a cashier before. You should give it a try. During a summer maybe. Give people the benefit of a doubt. There’s a reason most customers that use reusable bags can’t understand why cashiers hate it and why cashiers hate reusable bags. They’re in two completely different spots. The cashier and the customer. You’ve only seen one side. There’s a reason why cashiering isn’t the best job in the world. There’s so many people with different demands, but you’re only seeing your side.
Marie Le'Claire says
Cate Nelson, you were much to harsh. I agree with Matt. I love my job for Kroger foods, but seriously there are places to recycle plastic bags. Its is discusting because people dont wash thier cloth bags. Of course its possible to wash them, but thats not the point. People do NOT wash the bags and we have to touch them.
Dude, you are my twin.I have every issue you just said with customers at the store i work at.
Ex Cashier says
I worked as a cashier and I really dislike the cloth bags. Why? Because the customers use them as an excuse to verbally abuse and control every single movement made by the cashier.
Here’s a comparison of a plastic bag customer vs a cloth bag customer:
Plastic bag customer;
Me: Hi, how are you today?
Customer: I’m doing well, thank you.
Transaction is completed
Me: Have a nice day.
Customer: You too.
Cloth bag customer:
Me: Hi, how are you?
Cloth bag customer: I HAVE CLOTH BAGS!!!!
Me: Do you want your milk in one of the bags?
Customer: No, it has a handle you stupid dolt.
Me: oh, well some customers want it in a bag because it leaks.
Customer: Well I don’t care. I want to save the environment
(meanwhile, the customer has 50 different types of produce, each in a plastic produce bag, including bananas, lemons, limes and oranges. )
Me: what about the raw beef with juice leaking out all over the place?
Customer: Put it in with my produce please.
Me: what about your cleaning products? They’re kind of leaking.
Customer: I’d rather die from poisoning than use one plastic bag.
(I continue to scan and bag)
“that bag is too heavy! That bag is too light. Put the bread here. Put the cans there. Move that to this bag. Put that on top. You did this wrong. Goddamn it you took so long. I have to get out of here now!”
Marie Le'Claire says
Common, I am a carryout at a local City Market and I can tell you exactly why we dislike the reusables.
1. Most of you dont wash your grocery bags. E-coli and other harmful bacteria are growing in them and its discusting. Do you know how many people come in with pet hair inside thier bags?
2. Everytime I get handed bags it is like opening up the Russian Doll that wouldnt end! We have to get to the very center and unpack each, individual bag then we have to set it up. I admit some people are very sweet and they have all the bags folded and they leave the plastic base inside.
3. The bags slow down our time. Like I said, we have to set up each bag. At the new local store our cashiers are fast and I have to keep up with them so that I can prevent eggs and bread from being smashed. I bag 200 items a minute I dont have time to wait for you to finally decide to hand me your bags.
4. Then there are the people who take forever to give me thier grocery cart. I run out of room on the counter fast when I am using reusable bags. Word to the wise; skrew handing over your shoppers card until you have handed me your cart.
5. I pack reusable bags to the limit. I am a tetris fanatic and I always get excellent reviews from shoppers. Then you have the people who insist that everything has to be packaged lightwieght, or a certain way. The reason we have come to hate reusable bags is because of the people who insist on telling us how to do our jobs ( its very frequent). Either you want us to pack the bags the way they were meant to be packed, or you dont. Regardless, give your bagger/ carryout some slack. We work exceptionally hard to tolerate people who have reusable bags.
6. Lastly I return to the diseases we face daily. I would suggest stongly that people wash thier bags all the time and make sure they are clean. Then the people that reuse plastic bags, it’s discusting. I have bagged leaking meats and other things that would frighten the most hard core person. Do not use plastic bags more than once, there are facilities that recycle those.
Hey there lady! I’m a bagger. The truth is, we bag cloth bags slow because they don’t have any shape and don’t stand up like paper. Plastic bags have a holder that keep them easy to put stuff into. It takes me twice as long with cloth bags. Second, you can’t blame us for putting 10 things in the bag. If we put to much in, we get yelled at by people. If we put to little in, we get yelled at by people. So we have to just go on a guess that the person want’s their bags heavy or light. I HATE CLLOTH BAGSS RAAAR!
The reusable bags are usually hard to maneuver because there’s no where to sit it and you have to hold one side open and scan the item and put it in a bag and if it’s something that needs to be weighed you have to lift the bag which is probably why everything is slow. It lowers the scan numbers also and we can get in trouble for having low numbers