Tuesday, April 1, 2014

"I surrender to destiny."

Last April I decided that I needed a kick in the pants to get me writing more regularly, so I declared that April would be the month for 30 Days of Blogging. I had a few topic ideas of my own, and asked friends to submit ideas, questions, and random topics so that I would have something to write about every day. It turned out to be a really enjoyable writing exercise, so I'm doing it again this year.

That makes this Day One, and I have a topic that was leftover from last year:

Talk about a major life change you made this year

You're probably not going to think this is really that major until I explain it (and maybe not even then), but this year I found a way to decrease stress in my life two to three times a week, and all I had to do was give up and stop trying:

I stopped caring about whether or not the baggers at Kroger mixed my cold groceries and my regular ones.

This is not how I was raised, as my mother was quick to point out a few months ago when I mentioned this on Facebook. I was always taught that refrigerator and freezer groceries went in one part of the cart (or, if you were doing monthly shopping for a family of four, often in a separate cart) and that you kept them separated when you put them on the conveyor belt at the cash register. I was also taught to supervise, and occasionally correct, the bagger if they did not properly pack the groceries according to the laws of thermodynamics. As I've gotten older, and had some really awful customer service jobs where the dumb things that people said to me occasionally made me want to smack them, I've stopped correcting the baggers, but I haven't stopped seeeeeeething when they mix the groceries together.

Over the years, I've made constant New Year's resolutions to stop wishing death on these people. I've also tried a number of strategies to try to trick them into not mixing the cold groceries and the regular groceries together. These include, but are not limited to:

1) Building a wall between the two kinds of groceries with other things. I'd put down all the cold groceries, then pause for a few moments, then put down the bread and eggs and cleaners, which are usually bagged separately, and then start putting down the regular groceries.

I cannot count the number of smashed bread loaves this resulted in.

2) Casually slipping my wishes into conversation.

"How are you today, sir?"

"I'm great. I'd be even greater if my cold groceries stay separate from the regular ones."

Awkward silence.


3) Trying to bag it myself. Even though you don't tip the baggers at Kroger, they still get mad if you try to bag the groceries for them. It's kind of like the speech that Birdie gives to Margo in All About Eve about the wardrobe woman only having one job and being really touchy about other people doing it. The baggers are there to bag, and if you start trying to bag for them it suggests that they are incompetent, it disrespects them and the job that they are doing, and it could get them in trouble if a manager walks by.

4) Once I even brought my own bags to the store. (Thank God I work in a field where they give you a tote bag at pretty much every conference you go to.)

"I brought my own bags. This one is for cold food."

Yeah, like that worked.

So, every time I went grocery shopping, which happens a couple of times a week, I'd walk through the store with a growing sense of stress and anxiety. How are they going to screw up the bagging this time? Sour cream mixed in with soup cans? Cream cheese at the bottom of the bag under pasta and Little Debbie cakes? WILL THE MILK EVEN MAKE IT INTO A BAG AT ALL? Then I'd get to the register and watch as groceries built up between the scanner and the bagger, mixing and jumbling, and ending up bagged all willy nilly and hither and yon, seethe all the way home, then seethe some more as I unpacked the groceries and saw how scrambled and improperly bagged they were.

Then, this year at New Year's, I was about to make yet another resolution destined to fail, and instead I had a revelation:

I will never win this battle.

I gave up. I decided to stop worrying about my groceries, and to throw them upon the Wheel of Ka. I would place my groceries on the conveyer belt, set my jaw, and surrender to destiny.

And nothing terrible happened.

Now, I throw things in my cart however they happen to land. Then I put them on the belt however I happen to reach for them, and the bagger does whatever they want.

Sometimes, the bagger even sorts them when I haven't.

So, the moral of the story is that sometimes, you can win by giving up.

And that it doesn't matter if cold groceries aren't right next to each other when you only live three miles from the store anyway.


Todd said...

You could move to the Twin Cities where most of the stores make you bag your own groceries.

Marcheline said...

Wow - it never occurred to me to worry about anything except my greeting cards. I always wait to the end, hand the greeting card to the cashier and say "please ring this up and hand it right back to me" so it doesn't end up crushed under cans of tomato sauce in a bag, or laid down in a pile of leaked gunge from who knows whose previous food on the conveyor belt.

And yes, I'm that cheap that I almost never buy greeting cards but when I do it's from Waldbaums.