Bag Your Own Damn Groceries (and other pet peeves)
So the other day I was in the grocery store trying to pick up a few last-minute items to make dinner before picking up my kids from school. Even in the late afternoon, a time I had erroneously assumed would be relatively quiet since most people would be at work, the place was fairly crowded. All five open teller lines were at least a couple of patrons deep, and even the automated self-checkout lanes had an unusually long logjam. Resigned to waiting, I picked the line I thought would be shortest (always certain to be incorrect) and hunkered down with a copy of some cheesy tabloid I couldn’t believe I was openly reading in pubic. Perhaps appeased by this guilty pleasure, I was fine with the delay. No use in moaning about it. Then I saw the lady currently being checked out sitting back idly thumbing her way through People magazine as the teller hurriedly scanned her items and then bagged them, and I just about lost my everlasting mind.
Seriously, when did people become this unbelievably entitled? When did they become so utterly thoughtless as to complain about the duration of their wait time only to no longer give a crap about how long the line would grow behind them as the teller scrambled to do two jobs instead of one just so long as they were now at the front of the line? When I did finally get to the front, I immediately set to bagging my own groceries. The teller was notably appreciative and thanked me for my willingness to help out. I responded, in a voice that I secretly hoped would be loud enough for the non-bagger to hear (though she was probably already at her car trying to convince the shopping cart attendant to load her bags into her car for her) or at least to resonate with the people who came behind me, that people who refused to bag their own groceries are one of my top pet peeves. With this, she leaned towards me confidentially and set to telling me about how many people will bag their own groceries and then voice audible consternation at the fact that they had to do so. And just when did these folks believe they had magically inherited the inalienable right to have a serf there at their disposal in order to bag THEIR groceries? Just how can they imagine that grocery stores, which already operate with a 2% profit margin that is lower than any other major economic sector, have the financial resources to continue to employ someone whose sole responsibility is doing a job that they could just as easily perform themselves? All I could do was shrug my shoulders and load the rest of the bags I had filled into my cart.
Yes, I have my share of like pet peeves, truth be told, probably far too many of them. But as I go on to list a few of them here, you will note a recurring theme: I cannot stand the behaviors of people that suggest a blind or willful ignorance of the impact their behavior choices make on others. All I ask of my fellow human beings is a slight enlargement of the good old Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do to you- And for crying out loud, could you please try to think a little bit about what you are doing unto others? We are just talking about a modicum of self-awareness here, people. And with that, I give you more of the things that drive me absolutely insane:
People that litter. Can you really not just pick up your trash and put it in a proper receptacle? You ruin the beauty of our environs simply because you are too lazy to walk to a trash can to throw it out. And why does it always seem like it has to be wrappers for some overly processed crap made by Monsanto or some other corporate giant? Why do you never see used bags of organic plant protein littered all over your kids soccer fields? Hmmm….I believe I might be on to some sort of meaningful social demographic information here. People who eat trash, leave trash.
Folks who drive slowly in the left lane, often because they are distracted by talking on their phone. You flash your beams at them to get over- nothing. When you finally drive by them on the right, nearly causing a semi to come crashing into you from behind, you look over at them to see them obliviously chatting away.
Perhaps this one is just because I’m only 5’8”, but people who put their girlfriend on their shoulders at concerts. Yeah, no one behind you needed to see either.
The parents who sit outside their kids’ school letting the engine run for fifteen minutes while they wait for their student to finally emerge. You know you could turn the car off and go in and get them, right?
The people who find it necessary to talk incessantly during a play or movie. I’m here to listen to the dialogue onstage not your mindless drivel about how many beers you drank with your friends last weekend.
Parents who allow their children to run wildly through a store without guidance or bang away at the seat in front of them on an airplane. Just because you find it endearing to let your kid enact your childhood fantasies of being Huckleberry Finn and doing whatever they want so that they can get in touch with their “inner child” doesn’t mean everyone else does. They are a child. You are a parent. Please start acting like one.
And finally, blowhard columnists who write endlessly about the things that annoy them. Can’t they just find something better to do with their time?
Steven Craig is the author of the best-selling novel WAITING FOR TODAY, as well as numerous published poems, short stories, and dramatic works. Read his blog TRUTH: in 1000 Words or Less every THURSDAY at www.waitingfortoday.com