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Today I was a victim of produce abuse.

I still am trying to come to terms with the harsh reality of the events that occurred today, so bear with me as I work through this as the emotions are still quite raw...

I will be the first to admit that I have some--how shall I say this--anal-esque practices. (I can picture my husband reading this post and nodding his head vigorously.) Grocery shopping is no exception.

In my defense, I am a mother of three small children and I run two businesses. I try to maximize my time.

Today I embarked upon a "Speed Shop"--a very purposeful, carefully-planned excursion to a local market. I had precisely 45 minutes to drive into town, shop for the week, drive back home, unload the perishables and then head back out to pick up my kids from camp and nursery school. I would worry about the dry goods later--or so I thought...(more on this in a bit)

I rarely use a list, making mental notes of larder shortages, checking them off as I cruise through the store plucking the items from the shelves. I was making record time. I ran into a comrade who had two of her children in tow. We barely acknowledged each other--I greeted her and told her I was doing a "Speed Shop," prior to picking my oldest up from camp, she winked knowingly--I could tell she was doing the same. We respected each other's timeclock and moved on.

I don't know about you, but when I shop, I group everything in the cart according to category, paying careful attention to refrigerated and freezer goods. When I go to check out, I unload my cart keeping like items together so that they can be bagged together. I also sort according to weight--heavy items first, as they will be placed in the bottom of the cart so as not to smoosh the lighter items.

When I approached the cashier, I was particularly thrilled to see my favorite bagger at one station. She once had commented on how nice it was that I sorted the items based on temperature, said it made her job easier, wished everyone did that--she is the penultimate professional. I happily made my way to her station and started unloading my items onto the conveyor belt.

Wait...what's this? About a quarter of the way through my cart, my Bagging Guardian Angel was called to another register and another--dare-I-say lesser-skilled--bagger took her place. I was appalled at her immediate mistreatment of my groceries. She was fast and rough, rifling through the items and throwing them carelessly and thoughtlessly into bags.

In the confusion of handing the cashier my bonus fob and swiping my ATM card, my focus strayed from my groceries. A commotion ensued. Lesser-Skilled-Bagger apparently did double duty as a Lesser-Skilled-Cashier. One of her former clients had come up with her register slip to complain about being charged twice for an item. I saw my opening and swiftly moved to the bagging station.

What did I see in my shopping buggy? Oh, the horror! Moist, cool, sweaty dairy products were placed in the same bag as my children's Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Cracker pouches. Two half-gallon containers of apple juice were placed in single layer bag along with a five pound canister of coffee. Other bags bulged and split uncomfortably, obviously filled beyond capacity. I felt dizzy. I quickly began re-bagging the items, looking over my shoulder all the while.

And then she came back.

I continued to bag the groceries and re-sort. I could feel her glaring at me.

"Oh, " I said innocently. "Did you want me to help or just step out of the way?" There I go being polite again.

"Well, it will be faster if I do it, " she parried.

I wanted to scream, "FASTER DOES NOT MEAN BETTER!" but all I could muster was a feeble, "Very well," and I stepped back, defeated. I barely recall the cashier telling me how many bonus points I accrued or how much money I saved in coupons and bonus savings. What did it really matter? My whole afternoon had been thrown off by this careless young lady.

I made my way to my car, muttering under my breath about Lesser-Skilled-Bagger's incompetence. It wasn't until I got to my minivan that I realized the full extent of the abuse. There in the bottom of my cart was the piece de resistance--a cantaloupe nestled alongside my baguette.

You won this time, Lesser-Skilled-Bagger. Next time I will use self checkout.

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Comment by Elle Burton on July 28, 2008 at 11:48pm
I know just what you mean! Last time I was at the store they put my soap in with my fresh fish.

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