I was a grocery store cashier during high school. It is NOT a thrilling job. It is not mentally demanding. Emotionally – but not mentally. So in order to stave off boredom I came up with my own mental games to play. Things like racing the computer to compute change (I always lost). And optimizing grocery bagging.
This past weekend, I went to the grocery store. I bought some pasta, pizza rolls, a bunch of yogurt, and lettuce. Not a ton of groceries, enough to get me started this week.
Somehow my yogurts (granted, I bought like 10 of them), ended up in 3/4 bags. The pizza rolls were alone in the first bag. Then the spaghetti noodles and ~3 yogurts were in a bag. The lettuce and ~6 yogurt were in another bag. The mac n cheese and the rest of the yogurt were in a third.
What is wrong with the bagger?!?!?!?!
So when I get home I need to carry all four bags to my fridge. I empty out all the yogurts, put the pizza rolls in the freezer, and then carry TWO BAGS with one thing each to my pantry to put away the dry goods.
There should have been 3 bags:
1) Pizza rolls (freezer)
2) Yogurt (fridge)
3) Pasta (pantry)
IF there was concern the lettuce would be “too heavy” (har har) for the yogurt bag, it’s acceptable to put it in the pasta bag. This is fair.
This is the most simple rule to follow when bagging groceries: like things go together.
This really is an example of thinking through the process. When I get home, how do you make my day a little easier? Just a hair easier. I mean, I had four bags. Thank GOD this wasn’t one of those “buying for a family of 7 $300 for the week” kind of trips – then this organization is even more impactful.
Remembering that people have a story beyond your immediate reaction is really where this goes from “customer service” to “manners.” Remembering that the car who turns on their blinker to change lanes – they have a story beyond just trying to cut me off or infuriate me. Remembering that all the people getting off on other floors before yours have more to their story. They are going to work or doctors appointments or meeting their lawyer or whatever.
When you have this in mind, something as simple as bagging groceries reminds you to take care of the other person. To be kind. That kindness of not making a woman 6.5 months pregnant carry all four damn bags around the house or an elderly lady or hell the twenty-something young man… it’s such a little thing and should be so easy.
When I am asked “what is wrong with society” that is usually my answer – we forget other people’s story continues even when we don’t see it. Small acts of respect, of kindness, and of compassion could change the world. Think of the last time someone held a door for you. The last time someone let you over in heavy/stressful traffic. The last time someone caught up with you because you dropped something and they returned it to you. The last time someone offered to return your grocery cart (granted, usually because the driver in their car wants your spot…). The last time you got home and found your groceries bagged efficiently so your life is a little easier. 90% of these types of situations shouldn’t be exceptions to our experience.
Which means, we need to think about them. Take an extra 5 seconds of your day today – pay attention and with every person you see (especially strangers!) think through how you can be the kind stranger in their story. If you can – do it. Usually it takes little to no effort.