Of course, he wants a bag


To the Editor:

I wonder if anyone else has noticed how the checkout people at one of our esteemed Island supermarkets now ask if you want a bag when they are finished ringing you up. I noticed this a little while ago and wonder what’s up.

The first time it happened, the checkout guy asked me if I would like a small bag, which seemed like a bad idea because I had a lot of stuff. I surmised he was really asking me if I had a social conscience and wanted to be a responsible steward of the earth by making use of less bag, so I went with it. Of course said bag exploded at the seams when I went to lift it from my car, so I made a mental note to ask for a big bag next time.

The next time I was just making do with three items: half a gallon of orange juice, a jar of sliced beets, and a jar of super chunky peanut butter. This time a woman cashier went deeper into the woods and asked me if I wanted a bag. What? A measly bag? I felt like saying something snarky like, “No thanks, I want to see if I can make it to my car with the Tropicana balanced on my head while juggling the beets and peanut butter with my eyes closed.” But I just asked for a small bag instead.

Today, I went food shopping again and got to the check-out counter with what was clearly a two-bag day, under the old rules. Yet I watched with some amazement as the cashier tried stuffing everything into one bag. It was madness, so I asked him to repack my stuff into two bags and gave him the lame excuse that my arm hurts if I have to carry everything in one bag. (Then I felt guilty for lying.)

I think we can see what’s coming. We’re now within striking distance of being charged a nickel or dime if we want a bag. I get the green wisdom of everyone converting to reusable, recycled cloth shopping bags. I use them, but they are almost always in the wrong car or home under the sink when I happen to food shop.

So, yes, I think I am going to insist on my bag rights. The next time I’m asked if I want a bag, I plan to read from a prepared statement that I intend to have taped to my wrist: “Thank you for asking. I am sure there is some logic or social imperative for asking, but, yes, I emphatically want a bag. In fact, I want two bags, because I use them to collect my newspapers and recycle, so by giving me bags — which I feel I’ve already more than paid for, by the way — you are directly contributing to the greening of Martha’s Vineyard, so please glory in the knowledge of that.”

Something like that, and I invite anyone else so moved at checkout to borrow from my screed.

Charles Furlong