Friday, February 7, 2014

Paper or Plastic?

I miss paper bags—the kind with brown heavy paper that groceries came in back in the good ole days.  As a kid, armed with scissors and crayons, I’d turn them into space helmets. The kind with handles made great trick-or-treat bags. Just paint the sides with ghosts and witches and black cats. Smaller ones easily became terrific paper bag puppets. Things with paper bags were almost unlimited.

Then came plastic. Back in the beginning, cashiers asked, “Paper or plastic?” Paper please.  But soon the offer vanished, although they kept paper hidden under the register for anyone brave enough to ask.  Finally that too went away and plastic was it. Take it or leave it.

A local grocery store, touting the advantages of plastic when it first came out, filled one to capacity with cans and package goods, and suspended it over the store’s entry way to demonstrate the strength to anyone brave enough to walk under it.  They poked holes in the sides so the contents stuck out to further prove the bag’s worth. 

Fast forward to the present. I tried to open a plastic bag at the Wal-Mart self-service kiosk. The bags hung on the chrome rack placed at the far back of the landing area for scanned groceries.  I grabbed and picked and scratched at the center tab to open one, but only succeeded in pulling it loose from the rack.  It fell to the floor where a pile of plastic bags had accumulated from my predecessors’ attempts to open them.

Frustrated I signaled the cashier who frantically moved from kiosk to kiosk helping other shoppers (probably opening their bags). I explained the problem. She immediate grabbed a tab and popped one open. I filled it and again struggled to open next one. Again she came over and pooped a bag open.

“Okay tell me the secret. How do you do that?” I asked.

“Cashiers use a damp sponge to wet their fingers. It makes grabbing the tab easier,” she said.

I looked around and back to her. I’d not seen her go back to her station once to wet her fingers. Nor did she carry anything with her. Where did she keep this magical sponge?
Before I asked she blushed and smiled. “To tell the truth, I licked my fingers.”

Aha, another mystery solved and probably more than I wanted know. I grabbed my bags of groceries and left.  As I walked through the exit, the plastic handles on one bag tore and dumped cans and boxes across the sidewalk and into the street.

I really miss paper bags


No comments:

Post a Comment