Bag It

February 10, 2008

“Your bags are always so clean,” the pleasant, friendly supermarket checker said to my wife in admiration. An immaculate person in her housekeeping, my wife is not the type of person to bring a soiled canvas bag to the supermarket.

“Do people bring dirty bags back to the market?” I asked the checker. She rolled her eyes. “You wouldn’t believe some of the filthy bags people bring back to the market,” she said. “I can hardly stand to touch them,” she said sourly. “Or smell them.”

With this introduction to the dark (not to mention stinky) underbelly of environmentalism, a casual relationship began to grow between the cheerful checker usually positioned at the last cash register and my wife and I.

Today, as I waited in line, my eyes scanned the covers of the gossip tabloids. The gossip newspapers and magazines focused on life and death: Angelina Jolie the beautiful is reported to be pregnant with twins. Other headlines promised fascinating facts on the death of Australian actor Heath Ledger. Slightly to my surprise, there was nary a headline about the sad Britney. Perhaps her story has reached the point that only her death will satisfy the gossip cravings of the vultures.

The dangerous urge to do checkout line comedy seized control of my psyche.

I said to the checker, “I thought of a marketing idea for your market.”

“Yes?” she responded with what appeared to be interest.

“Instead of tabloids about movie stars and other celebrities, you could prepare publications about the people who work at the supermarket.”

The checker laughed with delight and enthusiasm. “Let me tell you, there’s plenty of material to keep several magazines filled at this store!” Although she didn’t reveal any juicy details, she warmed to her theme, conveying the impression that what had seemed like an innocent store was a teeming pool of intrigue and scandal.

Delighted to get such an enthusiastic response to my silly conversation starter, and seldom a person to leave well enough alone, I ventured further. “If you did exhaust the tales of gossip generating possibilities of the staff, you could perhaps start to share information about the customers.”

I had hit gold again. “Boy, could we tell you things about our customers. We know a lot about our customers, don’t we?” she added as an aside to the bagger who had just joined us and started putting our groceries in one of our spotless bags.

The bagger enthusiastically agreed.

“Oh, dear, I guess we are not of much use to you,” I said as my wife joined us. “We’ve been married for 42 years.”

“Come on,” coaxed the checker. “No skeletons in your closet?”

“Well,” I said, “Our daughter lives with another woman.”

The checker’s face fell. “Nothing new about that,” she said. “Nobody pays any attention to that sort of relationship any more. We see lots of children in the checkout line with a mommy and a mommy.”

As we picked up our bags to leave, the checker and the bagger bent close together for a whispered conversation. I didn’t try to listen, and I don’t think the conversation was about us, but I had a definite impression that the gossip mills of the supermarket were grinding away.

Really, why should any of us envy the beautiful people on the covers of the tabloids? What do they have that we don’t besides paparazzi following them around?



9 Responses to “Bag It”

  1. I would absolutely buy tabloid reports about the other people who shop at my Bio-Eco-Free-Range Grocery.

    And there would be a good story about me, and how I avoid my past dates by darting down the aisles like a crazed ferret. Film at 11.

  2. pandemonic Says:

    Yes, David is the guy I thought I knew from somewhere who is running from me.

    Real people are infinitely more interesting than the tabloid people. They get so bored, they must do crazy things like get married a dozen times or do drugs to excess.

  3. Vicky Says:

    Fun column Random!

    I know how much you enjoy trying to get reactions out of people.

    Was your wife glaring at you or giving you dirty looks during any of these exchanges or has she accepted that this is the way things are? 🙂

  4. modestypress Says:

    David: LOL


    My father was married half a dozen times. (My wife was a product of marriage #1.) He was evidently practicing, as the final marriage went pretty well.

    When I was a high school teacher, some of my students were so stoned, their was no telling what they imagined they saw when they were looking at me.

    Vicky: I am actually pretty careful when I am out in public. For example, as I mentioned in a blog post about the time I ate at Panda Express, I thought seriously (well, that’s not the right word) about asking the server if they had Panda on the menu, but thought better of it, and just said, “Thank you.”

    Even when typing at worldmagblog, one hand often grabbed the other and kept it from typing, Dr. Strangelove style.

    My wife is still mulling over whether I am a “keeper.” Though we did have this conversation recently: I said, “It’s a wonder that two people stay married for 42 years without killing each other. You realize with five acres of woods, you have plenty of space in which to dispose of the body. And after I retire, nobody will be expecting me to show up in the morning.”

    She: “You’re safe. I don’t think I can dig a hole six feet deep.”

    However, she works out in the gym faithfully and earnestly each week. For that matter, we are going out in a few minutes to plant an apple tree….

  5. modestypress Says:

    Ooops, typo. My father was married once. My father-in-law was married six times.

    Though my Aunt Henriette recently told me that in the early years of my parents’ marriage, my father had several affairs.

  6. pmousse Says:

    Ewwww. I had never considered the fact that people may bring dirty bags to the grocery store.

  7. Cameron Says:

    When I read your typo, I tried to decide if it was a typo or trying for a Southern-style joke 🙂 .

    I keep the bags I take to grocery store clean, too. They’re washable; it’s not that hard. Now, I do avoid putting raw meat or milk jugs in there, so that might help.

  8. trured73 Says:

    Random, you made me laugh! As you know, teachers are quite the gossip hounds. In our building alone there is at least one major “scandal” each year. I can’t imagine how many teachers’ lounges we could fill with magazines about it all!

  9. modestypress Says:


    When I was a teacher at the first high school where I taught, they had an experimental teacher-counselor program. Each grade was divided up into a “home-room” system called a “unit” and identified by a color. One grade was the green unit, another grade was the blue unit, and another grade was yellow unit (or something like that). As I mentioned, there was another teacher–“M” who was very attractive, very witty, and very much a woman of “easy virtue” (as the saying goes). I flirted with her too much, but never went beyond flirting (in part because I considered her very dangerous and she frankly scared the shit out of me).

    However, as part of our flirtation, she and I created the “Scarlet Unit” as a parody of the real counseling-home room system. Our rooms were next to each other and on boring days we would have students deliver “Scarlet Unit” memos and bulletins to each other, which approached the kind of teachers lounge magazine you describe.

    Thinking back on it, it’s kind of a wonder we weren’t fired. Part of the reason we weren’t were 1) “M” was so vicious and so good at bureaucratic in fighting that everybody was scared of her and 2) the principal had the hots for her and hoped that she would pop into bed with him. Besides sleeping around she also teased around so at any time she was sleeping with a quarter of the male faculty and keeping the other 3/4 on the “string” hoping she would invite them to the party.

    Thinking back on it, the whole thing was kind of disgusting. I hope I haven’t shocked people too much with my tiny episode of Faculty Inquirer.

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