Monday, May 12, 2008

Milk? Bag? Yup.

MY WIFE thinks I’m crazy. She believes I’m the only person in the world that is pissed off by what I’m going to write about here. I don’t think so. I think a whole bunch of folks might be torqued about this, but most of us don’t speak up about it. It’s not something that the fate of the world is hinging upon, and it’s easily forgotten until the next time it happens, so that may be why nobody else ever rants about it. When I’m done, give me your honest opinion. If you agree with me, let me know. If you don’t care one way or another, that’s OK. And if you think I’m a looney tune as well, so be it.

The next time I’m at the supermarket, and I have to ask to have my milk put in a bag, I’m going postal. I want my milk in a bag. If I have to ask one more time, I’m going to end up putting somebody’s head in a bag.

Why is it that milk is the only thing the bagger at the supermarket won’t automatically put in a bag? If you buy laundry detergent, it gets put in a bag. A bottle of dishwashing liquid? Into a bag it goes. Every other thing that comes in a bottle or jar finds itself in a bag after checkout. Cream - which is just milk with a college education - gets put in a bag. Hell, if you buy some paper bags, they put the paper bags into a bag. The only thing they don’t automatically put into a bag is milk. Why? What in the name of Satan’s left testicle has milk done to offend these people?

(Even Satan’s balls are in a bag, but not my milk.)

I like milk. I drink it with most meals. Every week, I buy two gallons of milk. And every week I have to ask these maroons to put my milk into a bag. Why?

It’s not that I’m an idiot who can’t figure out how to carry the milk by the handle provided on the milk container. And I’m not trying to set some sort of record for plastic bag consumption by having every item put into separate environment-befouling receptacles. I’d be happy as a clam at high tide if they didn’t put my six-pack of toilet paper in a bag. I can carry that just fine without a bag, thanks, and maybe even better than I can when it’s in a bag. It doesn’t quite fit in the bag and I end up carrying it in the crook of my arm anyway. However, there are actually good reasons for putting my milk into a bag. To wit:

1) Milk is perishable. When sunlight hits milk, it begins a chain reaction that will result in my milk turning into cheese. If I wanted cheese, I would buy cheese. And, if I bought cheese, they’d put it into a bag.

2) Containers of milk sweat. When they are taken from the refrigerated dairy case and put into a warmer environment (the trunk of my car) they become moist. And anything moist in the trunk of my car will collect grime. I do not want to deposit a grimy milk bottle into my refrigerator where it will befoul the rest of my food, nor should it be incumbent upon me to clean the damn milk bottle before it goes in the fridge.

3) It is much easier for me to carry my two gallons of milk if they are both put into one bag. If I have to carry two gallons of milk outside of a bag, all I can carry for that one trip between my car and the house is the two gallons of milk, one in each hand. If my two gallons of milk are in a bag, I not only can use my other hand to carry additional sacks of groceries, but I can probably hook one or two sacks onto the same hand as that which is carrying the milk. Putting my milk into a bag saves me at least one trip between the car and the house, possibly two.

I spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $80 a week on groceries. That works out to over $4,000 a year. Is it too much to ask that, for that sort of money, my milk get treated equally to every other freakin' thing I buy? I don’t have to ask for anything else to be bagged; it just happens, as a matter of course. Why is it considered such an odd request if I ask for my milk to be bagged?

Honestly, when I ask the bagger to put both of my gallons of milk into one bag, he or she looks at me as though I’ve lost my mind. OK, I understand that it’s not just the act of having my milk put into a bag that alarms them. What it is, is the fact that I want BOTH of them in the SAME bag. They believe that the bag can’t handle such a load. Or else they believe that I can’t. Either way, it’s insulting. Either they believe that I don’t have enough intelligence to figure out the load capacity of a bag, or they believe that I’m too weak to carry such an enormous load. Well, I have never had a bag break from the weight of two gallons of milk, nor have I ever suffered a dislocated shoulder from having such an amazing amount of weight depending from my fingers. Quit looking at me like I just asked you to give me a blowjob behind the deli counter and put my milk in the friggin’ bag, you idiot.


I have a whole bunch of other things I could rail about concerning supermarkets. For instance, why is it that the dope in charge of my local market decided that the frozen foods section should be relocated in the middle aisle of the store? Now, no matter which end of the store I begin my shopping trip from, I pick up my frozen items halfway through. By the time I reach the checkout, after traversing another five or six aisles, the frozen items have begun to thaw. Placing the frozen foods on the side of the store – as was the case previously – makes much more sense.

Another thing: What’s the deal with the sudden proliferation of self-checkouts? It’s not my job to ring up the groceries. I mean, sure, if I got some benefit from doing it, maybe I’d think it was swell. Give me 5% off and we might do business. But all you’re doing is putting cashiers out of work, making me do the work instead, and keeping your prices the same or still raising them. I’ll keep going to the checkouts staffed with cashiers, thanks just the same.

Similarly, there’s this rack of self-scanners available at the entrance to the store. The idea is for a shopper to grab one on the way in. Then, every time something is added to the cart, the shopper (that would be ME) scans the item. Again, not my job. Oh, I suppose in both cases I could work it so that I’d get that 5% off we discussed before (or maybe 50% off, for that matter) but... well, wait a minute. I’ll have to explore these options a bit further. Nevermind.

Sorry. We’ve become sidetracked. I came here to discuss my milk and its state of unbaggedness.

Now, to be fair, MY WIFE has suggested that I take reusable tote bags to the market. If I do, she says, I won’t get the incredulous stares from the bagger when I ask that my two gallons of milk be put into one bag. The reusable totes are visibly strong enough to handle such a thing, so if the bagger gives me the stinkeye, I’ll know it’s because my fly is down or something else besides the fact that I'm asking them to bag my milk. I’d also be doing my bit for the environment, blah, blah, blah. However, this brings up another gripe. Why are the supermarkets selling these tote bags? If they’re so damned concerned about saving the environment, they should be giving them away. And, if they gave them away, they’d save money in the long run, because they wouldn’t have to keep buying the one-time-use bags.

Enough. Now is the time when you weigh in with your opinion. Am I just a grumpy old fart making a big hairy deal out of nothing? Let me know. In the meantime, I’m going to stuff an envelope full of anthrax and get ready to mail it to the supermarket, just in case you agree with me and the revolution is on.

Soon, with more better stuff (unless my milk turns into cheese, in which case all bets are off.)

(The pictured milk comes from Tuscan Farms. I have never had Tuscan Farms milk. However, theirs was the best picture I could steal. I have no doubt they are fine folks who will gladly put your milk in a bag.)


Stu said...

Hey, Mr. Libertarian,

A) If you believe in Libertarianism, then you believe in free will and reduced authority over one another. If so, then I would think that *any* choice you were given would be better than having that same choice taken away from you.

B) Bags are bad for the environment. Supermarkets that ask you if you'd like a bag (even if it's just for milk) are making a move in the right direction.

C) "What in the name of Satan's left testicle..." - I am *so* stealing that!!

Stu said...

As for self-checkout, as a former East-Coaster, I like the added chance for a speedy exit. Most times I have a family's worth of groceries and need a hand getting it checked through and bagged, but if I only have an item or two, and the other lines are jammed up, and the self-check is empty, I am more than happy to do the extra work if it means I gain an extra 45 seconds of time spent outside in the sun. Also, I am a self-confessed geek, and as such, self-checkout is kinda fun, like PacMan for grownups.

lime said...

regarding the milk issue. i'd like to go back to glass bottles and my little wire bottle carrier. i really would. i'm dead serious. no more plastic milk jugs at all. gimme the half gallon milk bottles and the quart bottles. glass gets reused. plastic may or may not get recycled.

since i am more or less forced to use the plastic jugs i actually prefer them not to be bagged. i can carry two in one hand just fine and i hate the use of the extra plastic bag. which leads me to a serious gripe.

i HATE when they put 2 little things ina bag and call it full. drives me nuts. pack a damn bag full.

anyway, i now use cloth bags and pack them myself so i don't burst a blood vessel watching some incompetent put my bread underneath the canned goods.

Anonymous said...

Milk is bad for you. Nothing clogs your arteries faster than milk. I agree with Stu in that plastic bags are bad for the environment and paper ones destroy trees. Do us all a favor and bring a cloth bag with you, have them place your poison, err milk into the bag and be on your way knowing you are helping mankind.

mibsphil said...

I love your blog. You are a blog god. You know how to use the English language, which means you are among the few people left who aren't completely illiterate. Now: I think you're wrong about the milk and about a couple of other things too. Item #1: I could go on forever about all the things that annoy me about supermarkets, but putting two heavy containers of milk in one bag is one of the things that drives me nuts. The kids who bag the groceries 1) have no common sense whatsoever and 2) are not taught how to properly bag groceries. Distribute the heavy stuff among the bags!! Item #2: Plastic/paper bags are bad. Reusable bags are good (and stronger). 'Nuff said. Item #3: Gotta disagree with you about self checkout and personal scanners. I love the scanners--I couldn't live without them now. I get through the store so much faster, and without all the aggravation that occurs in the checkout line: teenager chatting with her friends while scanning my groceries; wrong prices rung up; and idiotic bagging necessitating my doing it over completely (see above). And it's fun! My suggestion is that before your checkout even begins, just ask the person to make sure everything, including the milk, goes into a bag. It's sort of the opposite of what I often do--when there's a heavy item like cat litter or laundry detergent, I tell the person right away that it need not go into a bag. You really should try using the personal scanner. You would eliminate the things that annoy you, because you can beg things as you go along, in just the way you like.

I still love your blog.

mibsphil said...

Sorry--slip of the finger! I meant "bag" things as you go along. But you knew that.

FĂ©nix - Bostonscapes said...

I hear you. I buy milk in 1/2 gallon cartons so, in my case, it's the "do you want your water in a bag?" :(

Self checkouts keep you from having to deal with dolts, but they can be a royal PITA too.

(I think it was a Blogger issue, the other day, with my blog. Thanks for checking on it and getting back with me, Jim.)

Anonymous said...

I much prefer using self-checkout now, for several reasons. Most of these reasons are related to the fact that almost everyone who works at a place where consumers purchase items of any sort nowadays is about as sharp as a sack full of wet mice.

1) I don't want someone who is going to set my eggs on the bottom of a bag and put a watermelon on top to be touching my groceries period. I'll bag my items myself in a sensible manner with a sensible number of items per bag. Half the time if I have to go through a traditional checkout, I end up having to bag my own groceries anyway because there are usually 3 baggers for 10-15 open checkout lines and the cashiers refuse to do it.

2) I'd rather not deal with anyone at all than go up to a checkout line and have the cashier not acknowledge that there is another human being in front of them. I regularly go through checkouts without the cashiers ever saying a single word, even after I say "hello, how are you?".

3) The concept of bringing your own reusable bags completely escapes almost everyone except those at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods. The looks I get when I tell a bagger that I have my own bags and could you please stop using the plastic ones are numerous and none of them are looks that I should be seeing at any time.

If Target had self checkouts I'd be ecstatic. Target gets an additional bonus point for cashiers giving me the evil eye when I'd rather take the several small items I'm buying and, in lieu of bagging them, put them in the large storage bin, trash can, or other large device that I am also buying so I can carry one thing out of the store instead of one large cumbersome item and 8 items placed into 4 bags. In dozens of instances, I have never had one cashier understand this concept.

RedheadwithAttitude said...

I buy my gallon of milk after work. While I do bring my insulated Trader Joe's bag with me, the baggers never put my milk in the bag. (The other purchased items do make it into the bag though.) Now when I get home, if I don't redistribute, I've got my purse, grocery bag, my briefcase, my laptop bag, my mail and the various keys to get through all my doors at my condo complex.

I just thank the folks and redistribute the groceries in the car.

I much prefer self checkout. The less interaction I have with the stop and shop flunkees, the happier I am!

Rooster said...


Sounds like you need to have someone else do your shopping before your blood pressure goes through the roof. :)

I love the self-checkouts - just fun to play with the buttons! But I would not mind a way for that to benefit me financially via lower prices!

Don't care about the milk - rarely drink it. We're too old for milk!

Hilary said...

You might like the Canadian grocery stores where we actually buy our milk in bags. We can also get it in cartons and those plastic jugs, but we buy our 4 litres of milk in three individually bagged 1 and 1/3 litres, packaged into yet another plastic bag. The litre bags slip into a milk jug, we only need to snip off the corner and pour. AND.. they almost always bag it into a grocery bag.. unless of course you bring your own. Your WIFE is right.. ;)

Here's a pic.

Suldog said...

Well, I certainly seem to have touched a few nerves here, although it appears that most of you are in agreement with MY WIFE - I'm a looney tune.

I'm surprised by the number of folks who prefer self-checkout. Maybe my Stop & Shop is one of the few employing nice courteous folks who bag things correctly (excluding milk, of course :-) )

To answer a couple of points:

I will continue to drink milk, artery-clogger or not. I like it. I went to 1% years ago. That's as far as I'm going.

I would rather that plastic bags were not used, period. I prefer paper. If paper is also a waste - and I suppose it is - I fall back on the fact that I re-use all of them, paper or plastic. I use the paper sacks to store my paper recyclables, so the whole shebang gets used again. I use the plastics to carry lunches, or line wastebaskets, or as trashbags in my car. I rarely just toss them.

Finally, I would like to be sure that you know I would not actually ever berate or otherwise smite a bagger or other store personnel. I tend to exaggerate for comic effect. I suspect most of you already know this, but some of you may be fairly new around here.

Thanks, all, for the detailed commentary.

Anonymous said...

I shop at Hannaford's and bring one insulated bag and two cloth bags with me. They take 5 cents per bag off of the bill and give a senior discount on Tuesdays.

They are usually pretty good about putting the refrigerated items (eggs, butter, milk, meat, etc.) into the insulated bag AND the checkers are always cordial and ask how I am etc. My grocery shopping experience is usually pretty positive.

P. S. Nice time yesterday.

Jeni said...

You raised some interesting points I'd never thought about before -milk containers sweating and picking up dirt from the trunk being one of 'em. I'll have to mention that to my daughter next time she buys milk. THe self-checkout is something I've never tried as I don't know if any of the local grocery stores here even utilize that. I probably wouldn't like it for a big full grocery order but on those rare "just run in and pick up only one or two items" it might work better for me. I'll have to try that sometime if ever I find a store that has it.

Janet said...

Sul, I agree with you totally, and not just because you said I looked cute in glasses. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it.) We drink a lot of milk and it drives me crazy to have that sweaty jug picking up dirt. Or hitting my clothes when I'm carrying it. blech.
I have the opposite problem. Our baggers try to bag EVERYTHING. Including the cat litter, laundry detergent, etc. And water jugs. It's bad enough I have to buy water (our spring water is not safe to drink - we need a filter but we can't seem to come up with the several hundred dollars we need . . .but I digress, like you're surprised by that), but then they want to bag it. It's much easier to carry it. I can carry two jugs in each hand with far less pain than 2 bags in each hand.
I've started using the cloth bags, too, which I love because they hold so much, although as some of your commenters mentioned, the rocket scientists doing the bagging have to be watched closely so you don't have bread under a bag of potatoes. I can get in 4 of those bags what goes into about 12 or more of the plastic ones. Including the milk.
I would use the self-checkouts if they ever worked. But they don't take checks, I never have cash, and I don't like to use a credit card for groceries.

Buck said...

Maybe you just need to change stores? My milk is always bagged, no questions asked.

I used to LOVE the self-checkout lanes... when they were new. I literally zipped in and zipped out, coz few people used 'em. That was a year or so ago. Nowadays I get stuck behind those same twits who have to check their balance three times before withdrawing $20.00 from the ATM. Or idjits that think the bar code scanner is pressure-sensitive, or something. Or the just plain clue-free.

I still use the self-checkout, it just takes longer. But the experience isn't without its unintended comedic moments. It helps to look at it that way.

Shrinky said...

Ah suldog, where would I be without your quirky observations on life? You need to move over here my friend, I have an insomniac fairy aka, "the milkman". Every morning before I rise, he places a few fresh pints on my doorstep for me to find - and GET THIS - they come in a BAG!!

Teehee. But no, you're not nuts, I say bag that milk every time.

Unknown said...

Suldog - Our grocers use the platic bags, when you pit a gallon of milk in the ag and try to carry the bag by the handles it nearly slices my fingers. The load from the milk can not be distributed comfortably in the bag. I am not a manly man like you and would never consider putting 2 gallons into the same bag. Anyhow, it is much, much easier for me to carry the milk sans the bag. Probably most people feel the way I do, otherwise why would the cashiers keep asking?

draagonfly said...

I see your point about sweating cartons and grime, but I have to side with your wife. My suggestion also would've been to take your own reusable bag to the store, thus avoiding looks from cashiers, doing your bit for the environment, AND most stores these days will give you a discount for bringing that bag, so it may not be 5%, but it's a nickel more than you had before. Don't sweat the small stuff.

Unknown said...

If I wanted cheese, I would buy cheese. And, if I bought cheese, they’d put it into a bag

You know I never actually thought about any of this before because I am one of those people who always uses self checkout. The way you feel about how they don't put your milk in a bag is how I feel about idiots in general. I find a higher proportion of idiots in the grocery store than any other establishment of commerce on the planet. Anything I can do to avoid people there is a.o.k. with me.

Will ponder the milk question & get back to you on the anthrax (you know the DoHS is investigating you right now right?)

~ Jenn

Brian in Oxford said...

What's your opinion on this?

You buy only a bag of potato chips, and they ask you if you want it in a bag. But it's already in a bag! Lays gave us a bag specifically for the potato chips. Same concept with wonder bread -- another single item purchase that comes in a bag already!

Suldog said...

Brian - Well, it's pretty silly, if you ask me - which you did, and thus why I'm answering.

My reasons for bagging milk make sense, at least.

Lyss said...

I make no apologies for the fact that I'm picky about how my groceries are bagged. And I make no apologies for preferring to do it myself.

I do think it's weird they didn't think to put the milk in a bag. No one's every refused to bag my soda or OJ...

Anonymous said...

At my local supermarket, the cashiers politely ask if you'd like your milk bagged--proof that chivalry, although dwindling, is still alive.

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