Lost Art

What ever happened to the fine art of sacking groceries? 

Memo to the disinterested bag-boy at Albertson's -- I know you're bored to tears standing around "helping" people while your X-Box sits at home, alone and silent, but I brought this bag with me for two reasons: 1) The Happiest Town in America has decided to impose a fee on me if you provide me one (a policy I support actually), and Second) I want to carry my six-pack and my gallon of milk inside the bag, something I can't do if you put the bread and vegetables on the bottom. Dude puts half-a-dozen items in my shopping bag -- cheese, lunch meat, chips, bread and veggies -- then hands me the bag, the six-pack and the milk! Really? WTH? Do I have three hands?


  1. Hey something I feel qualified to talk about!

    So when I started working grocery 13 years ago the position of box boy was a good job for a teenager or even a college kid to get. First of all it was much nicer than flipping burgers and the pay was considerably better. I started at $5.55 an hour when most of my friends were making minimum wage of $4.25. Pretty big difference right? But that wasn't even the best part about that job. If you put your time in and did a really good job you'd get a shot at a promotion to a position that started at $8.59 an hour, double what your buddies were making! Of course this took some time but still...

    In 1995 at my job we had one bagger per open checkstand and a few spares to get carts, help people unload and clean the store. By the time I left the grocery industry in 2012 we were lucky to have one bagger in the store per shift.

    What changed?

    Well...remember those Grocery Store strikes in 2004? At that time the stores got so many concessions from the unions that they busted down most of the jobs in a grocery store to be as disposable as the previously mentioned burger flipping jobs.

    Managers used to always have a huge stacked of applications from qualified people that wanted a good job, now they have to just pick the best of several unqualified people that will probably not be working there in six months time.

    None of this excuses the crap job that the baggers do nowdays (imagine how I feel when they do mine, dear god)but it does go to illustrate that not just anyone can do every job and yes Virginia there is an advantage to having strong Unions, not just to the employees but to the people served by those employees as well. And the groceries aren't any cheaper.....

  2. Bingo! My first job -- ever -- was as a bagger at Alpha Beta ('member those stores?) in Camarillo, CA. I was 15. Supermarket jobs used to be the bomb. All the workers were making real working-class bank. I'll bet single moms had a pretty decent chance of raising a family on 1970/'80s supermarket checker pay. But, like every other [mythical] aspect of the American dream, the corporations took all that away, and now supermarket stockholders are getting rich while supermarket workers are just as disposable as all the rest. So it goes.

  3. And of course, along with the fact the corporate overlords have cut pay so drastically in the supermarket industry, they've also -- as you point out, Patrick -- cut the number of workers on duty at any one time.

    Customers paying more for less service.

    Workers doing more for less pay.

    It's the American way!!