Plastic or...else

We mainly shop at the local Safeway, because although there are Trader Joe's and Whole Foods stores in the area, it's quite a long drive to get over there, and with the price of gas going higher every day, sometimes it just seems, well, easier and cheaper to stay here and go to Safeway.

After I returned from a long trip to California this winter, I realized that something was missing from the local Safeway: paper bags. They didn't have any, and hadn't for quite some time. I use paper bags to recycle the newspapers--that's the sanitary workers' preferred way to dispose of paper--in other paper that can also be recycled. It makes sense to me. We have a separate truck that just picks up paper for recycling, and they won't take any other material.

We were out of paper bags and the newspapers had been piling up, so when we went shopping, I checked to see if they had gotten any paper bags. They had not. I asked at the Customer Service desk, and was told that the "order was on its way" but hadn't arrived yet. I was asked to fill out a Customer Complaint card, so I did.

Next week, still no paper bags. And the next, and the next. I can't be the only person who prefers paper to plastic, or uses paper to recycle...paper. In California there's a movement afoot to ban plastic bags and have ALL paper. But apparently not here in Maryland.

I gave up checking every week, but last week I asked at the Customer Service desk again, to see if the order had finally arrived. It had now been over four months since they had any paper bags and our newspapers were getting out of hand. I asked the woman at the desk "Do you have any paper bags yet?" and she looked at me like I was from Mars. "We've always had paper bags," she said, "we keep them locked in the back. You just have to ask for them." WTF? I asked her why, which was when a short woman standing there piped up. "I'll tell you why we lock them up," she practically screamed at me. "We lock them up because people come in here, grab a paper bag, and walk around the store stealing stuff. Then they just walk out!" Turns out this woman is the manager, and she was a bit het up. Her voice rose higher and higher as she explained that last year, they had lost $193,456.79 worth of product to shoplifters. I'm not kidding, she had the exact figure in her head. Then, in one last blast of righteous indignation, she yelled "People STEAL!!!" I actually jumped back, feeling like I was being accused of thievery. "I don't want to steal anything," I said, "I just want to recycle my newspapers."

I was told, more calmly, that I could simply ask the checkers and they would get them for me. So when we were in line checking out, I asked the cashier if we could have some paper bags. She rolled her eyes, sighed, and then said she'd go get them. She had to go get special keys, go upstairs, fetch them and bring them back. While this was going on, I could feel the hot breath of the customers lined up behind us, and could practically hear them seething at the delay. I felt like a guilty obstructionist, holding up the entire line just so I could recycle my stupid newspapers. It also occurred to me while I was standing there that the guy who told me that the "order just hadn't come in yet" was lying. Rat bastards.

Every other grocery store, including the small operations, offer their customers paper bags. Yet here is the huge national giant corporation, Safeway, denying customers this option. Why? Because they are too cheap to hire a couple of extra workers to roam the aisles, helping customers locate items and keeping their eyes open for furtive shoplifters loading stuff into paper bags. Wouldn't the smart thing, the logical thing, be to put on extra staff? I'm sure it would cost them less than what they were losing from thieves, and the customers who can never find anything would appreciate the help.

Or maybe they were lying about the whole thing, and are just too cheap to buy paper bags?




How low can he go?

According to the new Newsweek poll, it's 28%, an all-time low in a major national poll. Bush is now the most unpopular president since...his dad. Whatever happened to the American dream that our children will do better than we did?


Rowan and Martin's Creep-Out

Yesterday the Queen of England got to tour Virginia with Deadeye Dick. Our apologies to the royal family.

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