If you’re like me, you enjoy your grocery store trips. I make them about 3 times a week. I like to have fresh food in the house and I enjoy seeing what’s new in produce, seafood, the organic aisle with its bulk food bins filled with grains, dried fruit and chocolate and nut delights.
But during this trip, something happened. I’m not sure exactly when it occurred. I can pin it down to sometime between when I walked away from my cart to select Parmesan cheese in the deli and reaching for the buttermilk in Dairy. I suddenly realized the three recycling bags I brought into the store had vanished from my shopping cart.
Dumbfounded, I instinctively looked around to see if they had dropped on the floor. Nope. I retraced my steps back to the cheese section, the cucumber display, the refrigerated dairy case. My green cloth bags were nowhere to be found.
It occurred to me that someone must have taken them out of my cart. I began looking at the carts of the shoppers around me. I weaved in and out of the grocery aisles, going at a quick pace, hopeful that I would nab the culprit red-handed. But then I thought to myself, what would I say to the bag thief? Would I outwardly accuse them? Would I give them an out by politely suggesting that that it was completely understandable that they had mistakenly assumed the bags had been discarded? I decided to give up my search and accept the fact I had been bag burgled.
Why would someone steal recycled bags from someone else’s cart? I mused. People who use recycling bags are caring people, people who think green, separate their plastics from their paper and aluminum and take them to centers so the earth can be a better place, people who would never think to rob someone of their shopping possessions.
I quickly finished up my shopping, totally distracted, hastily tossing the hand soap and dog food and some Sharpie pens that remained on my shopping list into my cart. I arrived at the row of cashier stations, looking not only for the station with the fewest number of customers and items being checked out, but the station that appeared to have the most empathetic looking cashier. I was going to tell them my sad story, elicit some sympathy, and maybe even get a free recycled bag replacement…or two.
I spied a rack nearby with one of the same heavy-duty recycling bags that just minutes earlier myself owned. It a nice recycling bag, larger than the others, made of a better cloth, covered in an attractive floral design. Mine was acquired some months ago, as a free gift, when the supermarket had some kind of customer appreciation day and was handing them out to customers. I really liked that bag….and now it was gone….forever…due to no fault of my own..
I put the new bag on the belt first, arranging it so the price tag was prominent. God forbid the clerk would think I was claiming this as my bag and not ring it up on the register.
“How are you today?” asked the sincere young female cashier.
“A little annoyed,” I replied, hoping she would then ask why, and then following it with a smile so she wouldn’t think I was upset with her.
“Is this your bag?” she asked, getting down to business of checking out my groceries.
“Yes,” I replied. “You know I walked in here today with three recycled bags, but someone took them while I was shopping.”
“Oh, no,” she said. “I’m so sorry that happened.”
“Yeah,” me too, I said, feeling pleased she was feeling my pain, hoping she would then call over a manager who would then offer to throw in the new bag gratis, to make up for the incident.
Overhearing our conversation, in the next aisle over, a kindly woman turned toward me. “Did you say someone stole your recycled bags?”
“Yup,” I responded, pleased to hear someone else chime in.
The woman shook her head with a look that seemed to indicate she was amazed such a thing would happen, while my cashier continued to ring up my items. She cooed another apology for the incident, but made no offer of a free bag.
“If you need more bags, I’ve got another one,” I added, motioning to a little pouch stuffed with a nylon bag I keep clipped to my purse. “I guess I’ll just have to keep my recycling bags over my shoulder from now on.”
“Yeah, or tucked under your cart,” offered the cashier.
I strolled out of the store, my emotions already cooling, and then the thought occurred to me–Maybe the bag thief wasn’t a thief after all. Maybe he or she really did think my cart was a stray, something set aside by some store clerk and the bags were for anyone to claim, to call dibs on. Yeah…that’s gotta be it.