I’ve been asked that question three times this weekend. First time was when I was checking out at the grocery store. The bagger held up a plastic bottle of ketchup and asked if I would like a bag for it. I looked at her with disbelief but refrained from responding that I would like to carry the ketchup in my hand as I walked out to my car. I said yes.
The second time was later that afternoon as I finished up my Saturday chores. I stopped in at a salad place and ordered a Cobb. It came in a big plastic bowl. As the clerk rang it up, again I was asked the same question. This time I was tempted to retort. “Oh no, I would like to carry this big bowl of salad in my hands out to the car. I notice that there is some dressing running down the side. I guess I can wipe it off with my hand or sleeve. Maybe I’ll try to prop it up on the passenger seat, although it looks a little top-heavy. I can hold onto the bowl as I make a turn, of course my car will smell like salad dressing for a while, but that’s ok. I can always take it to the car wash.” I didn’t respond of course. I said, “yes please” and went on my way.
After I unpacked the groceries and ate the salad, my lovely wife returned from her morning chores. I told her about this “Would you like a bag?” phenomenon. I wondered aloud if it was a generational thing. The questioners were decidedly younger than I, but then who isn’t? I’m aware that this generation is more involved with environmental issues. As she read a magazine and half listened, I continued. The ketchup bottle was plastic, as was the salad bowl. They would both last in a landfill for a generation. Should I feel guilty that I asked for a bag? Was there a big-eyed baby seal choking on a recklessly discarded plastic bag at that very moment? Do I have to start carrying environmentally conscious paper bags now? Like the strong woman behind the semi-successful man whom she is. She cut to the chase with a concise and definitive response. “This is stupid.” She got up to make a cup of tea, and I shrugged my shoulders and went upstairs for a nap.
It was the third incident that prompted me to write this blog. This time I wasn’t alone. My beautiful yet cynical wife was by my side as we stopped into a deli. We ordered two sandwiches and a frozen baked ziti. As we were rung up, it happened again. The young lady asked, “Would you like a bag for this?” A frozen baked ziti! We shared a look. Her look may have appeared to an outsider as an eye roll anticipating an “I told you so” from her slightly crazed husband. I know better though. In that moment, she realized that I have been right all along. My fears of something bigger, something far uglier than a few silly clerks using bad judgment were confirmed in that one look. Yes, she now knew what I have suspected from the start. There is a movement upon us. Far scarier than any zombie apocalypse or vampire invasion those immature fools who program television could ever conjure up. There is an environmentalist revolution sweeping the nation. My guess is that it started in Colorado or Washington State. Weed smoking millennials are roaming the land, their hands dripping with ranch dressing; bottles of condiments hidden deep within their ill-fitting ironic clothing. They have bottles of ketchup, mustard or perhaps barbeque sauce ready to be wielded in violence against anyone over fifty who doesn’t bring a bag to the grocery store.
Of course, there is the slight chance that stores are trying to save money and asking their clerks to conserve bags. No, it’s a revolution alright. My wife can’t always be right. Can she?