Bag Lady

bag lady

I was walking around West Seattle the other day with my little grandson. He was securely strapped into his Radio Flyer grandma-powered tricycle; his favorite mode of transportation and one we take everywhere even through the front door of the local grocery store. It has this wonderful long handle on the back of the tricycle that allows me to steer and push while he snacks on Cheerios and tries to pull things off the shelves.

I was careful that day, as I always am, to do the double check before leaving the house.  I’m terrified I’ll leave without keys to get back in, or without my cell phone or money or whatever. Being responsible for a sixteen month old causes me to be conscientious at all times and I’m finding it’s not as easy as it used to be. Let’s face it, I’m getting old and my memory isn’t what it was a few years back. Yet, as long as I do the double check I’m usually okay.

Have you noticed how nothing ever stays the same? Not even the leaving-the-house list? Well, there’s a new item on the list that we simply cannot leave home without, especially in this yuppie “green” neighborhood I find myself in a lot these days. The must-have item is, of course, the grocery bags!

Yes, you see, in this neck of Puget Sound, they don’t bag your groceries unless you provide the bag. I forgot the bag. Lord help me, I left home without a bag. I could feel myself being sucked into a bad episode of  “Sienfeld.”

The checker smiled tightly and gave me the knowing arch of the brow. “Your bag?” she inquired, as if I was expected to reach up my sleeve and produce one.

“I’m sorry, I left home without one,” I apologized feeling uneasy.

“Well then,” she frowned and produced a paper bag resembling an old fashioned lunch sack. As she stuffed my few items into the bag, I was thinking I’ll never make it home with that bag in one piece. I couldn’t carry the flimsy little paper sack and push Des in the Radio Flyer at the same time.

“Um…do you have a plastic bag with handles?” I’d need to hang the bag over the handle bars on the walk home.

She sighed heavily, as though it was unimaginable that anyone, after all this time, could still leave home without a bag and then have the gall to complain about the quality of the bag provided for free by the grocer. “For a fee, we have a plastic bag with handles.”

“For a fee?” My eyebrows arched to match hers. “And what would that fee be?” I inquired.

“Twenty…two…cents,” she deliberated while reaching under the counter and producing the magic bag with a flourish.

“I’ll take it,” I answered enthusiastically, impressed by the sturdy looking bag.

Miss Checker paused, looked momentarily confused, then asked skeptically, “Would you like your items transferred? Or would you like to take both bags?” Her eyes bugged out slightly and I thought she was going to call for the manager should I actually decide to keep both bags for the price of one.

“Oh, I think I’ll take both,” I said with an affirmative nod, yet the checker made no move to help me out. “Here,” I reached  for the full paper bag as she reluctantly handed it over with one hand and then gently pried the purchased bag from her other hand. “I’ll just go like this,” I demonstrated my intentions by opening the plastic bag and dropping the paper bag inside. I then hung it over the handle bars and smiled. “There. That will be much better,” I said. “I’ll try and not forget my bag next time,” I began pushing the tricycle towards the front doors.

“That would be best,” she agreed behind my back. “You have a nice day,” she called out earnestly as though she’d had second thoughts about what a bad person I was.  Like maybe she’d judged me too quickly. After all, I did pay the fee for the plastic bag. Regardless, I can’t wait to go back. I’m going to have all sorts of bags with me. I imagine myself standing outside offering bags to anyone who forgot one. Maybe they’ll come to know me as the bag lady.

Bob Dylan was right-on when he wrote the lyrics “the times they are a changing.” I guess I’ll need to start paying attention and attempt to catch up. Wouldn’t want to be paying the bag fee forever, now would I!


Mary Ann





2 thoughts on “Bag Lady

  1. I love the picture you put with this story. I like the idea of taking extra bags and handing them out. We have so many bags and of course I have them in the trunk of my car and even then forget to bring them in the store with me. I think it’s the way I grew up, use to being serviced and given a bag for my groceries. My daughter always remembers to bring in her bag and so it makes me think it’s a little generational? I’ve kicked myself before thinking I forgot my bag in the car. Isn’t it weird to spend money and feel bad about it? Ha, one step and day at a time. We know you’re the best.

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