There was a time when, back in the seventies and probably long before, grocery baggers were an incredibly talented lot. They took great pride in presenting the customer with perfectly organized groceries packed into crisp brown paper bags. Some of them took it to a level of performance art – adding some flair, maybe a spinning of a loaf of bread through the air with one hand as they were loading the previous item with the other hand, catching the bread and placing it softly in place at just the last moment – a grocery ballet. I’m thinking one of these guys went on to create Tetris.
These days, well I don’t have to tell you, two plastic bags per item, cans on top of tomatoes!
I’ve been grocery shopping by bicycle now for several years. At this point I know pretty much exactly how much will fit in my basket and that’s how much I arrive at the checker with because I like to maximize my trip and I like to eat – amazingly, it’s pretty close to one full grocery basket. But, you have to pack it well. Unfortunately, today’s baggers don’t get this. And they can’t seem to understand that I can’t take an extra bag – it’s a car culture thing – even a Miyata will fit several grocery bags.
So it is that I find myself out on the sidewalk taking all (or most) of my groceries out of my bag so that I can reorganize them so they’ll fit in the bike basket and not get squished. I found that the key to packing groceries well is verticality. I don’t quite understand the spatial relations of why this is the case, but it seems as though you can fit about 20% more into a space of equal size when packing groceries in a vertical manner.
It’s not a big deal, of course, but I dream of one day walking out of the grocery store with a perfectly cubical bag that slides right into my basket and away we’ll ride, me and mindful mule…