I was at the grocery store yesterday and the young bagger looked at the woman he was bagging groceries for and smiled and said, “Well I hope you are having a great mother’s day.” The lady ignored him and kept her eyes and the register. Again the young bagger said, “Are you having a good mother’s day?” The lady just looked at him and said “hmmmmm.” The bagger, bless his heart, was persistent and said, “Do you have plans for mother’s day?” Finally, the lady turned to him and said, “Did you ever think that maybe I am not a mother?!” The bagger smiled and said, “But you have a mother.” I looked at the bagger and gave him and smile, and it got me thinking…
What ever happened to good old fashioned grocery store baggers? We seemed to have taken them for granted. Bagging groceries used to be a real art. I mean before plastic bags, grocery baggers took great pride in fitting your purchases neatly into as few paper bags as possible and made your purchase look tidy and easy to carry.
Today baggers are sloppy and do not care about your grocery purchase. They toss can goods in with bread, let soap leak onto food, put frozen goods in with bakery goods and they give you ten plastic bags when it really can fit into three. They rarely pay attention and they simply can care less whether your groceries make it home or not.
It used to be back in the day, grocery store baggers played an important role in the art of grocery shopping. I remember as a small child there was a bagger at El Rancho who made bagging look like an art. He placed one hand in the paper bag, and he tossed the groceries one by one into the bag and caught it with his hand. He took can goods and had them do several flips before landing perfectly into his receiving hand and then gently placed into the bag.
Baggers used to ask how you were. They actually cared about the customers they bagged for. In some cases, they would ask how the family was. Our friendly baggers did more than just ask about you and your family, they inquired about your groceries. They asked how you cooked a certain meal or asked if you were going to fry or bake those porch chops you just purchased.
Customer service seemed to be the motto of this dying breed. They fetched carts with pride, they helped you to your car rain or shine, they helped stock shelves and knew where everything was and most important, they did not feel inconvenienced if you asked them where a product was or if something is in stock. These were the brave souls that worked the front lines in our grocery store.
I think one of the reasons why I like shopping at Trader Joes is that the cashiers are the baggers, the stockers, they get the carts, they walk you to the car if you need help, they know where everything is and most important, they smile at you. They are really glad you are shopping there. Some of them even know you by name. These are the people that are a dying breed. They smile at you. I once asked a clerk why they looked so happy and he said, “I just love this job.”
My hat is off to this young bagger I saw at Safeway yesterday. Even though the lady was rude to him, he was bound and determined to make conversation with her. He continued to try to make her smile and enjoy her trip. He attempted to carry out that old tradition of actually caring about the customer in the grocery store.