It is easy for cashiers to go on autopilot sometimes at the grocery store, placing one or two items in a plastic bag before you can even say "Hello". When you explain that you already have your own bag or that you don't need a bag for your one already well packaged item, they remove the item from the plastic bag and then THROW THE PLASTIC BAG IN THE TRASH. Many franchises have rules which don't allow a cashier to reuse a bag that has already been 'contaminated' with another customer's item. And so, it has been an ongoing experiment to find the best and most polite way to avoid the cashier putting those one or two items in a plastic bag before you can stop them. Read on for ways to flag the bag before it is too late. Feel free to add to this list:1) Hold onto your item or basket of items until eye contact is made and a short conversation ensues. With a smile, even if it is fake, politely let the cashier know that you will not need a bag today thank you. Then, once trust is developed, hand over the items, one at a time, maintaining eye contact the entire time with the smile still on your face.
2) Use the self check out lane and bag your own item in your own bag or even go bagless altogether as you walk out of the grocery store past the security guard with your items totally naked and exposed. Some argue that the self check out lanes eliminate jobs. Others argue that it frees up cashiers and baggers to pursue their true life purpose.
3) Shop at stores which have either banned plastic bags entirely or at least require their cashiers to pop the big question.
4) Shop at smaller, locally owned stores or markets, where everyone knows your name and also knows that red laser beams will emit from your eyeballs if they place any of your items in a plastic bag without your permission.
5) Move to San Francisco or China.
6) Tattoo "No Bag PLEASE" on your forehead.
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photo: terlingua springs market does it right. photo by trevor reichman