First of all, I don't think that a bunch of people should be wearing the same clothes at the same time when together unless they are all employees of the same business or they are all on some sort of sports team. Seeing 20 kids all dressed in super bright white shirts that say a lot of things but that don't actually delineate who they are, or what group they belong to, that should have been a big red flag right off the bat. They could have been thieves involved in a very unorderly yet peaceful robbery of the grocery store. They could have been slowly advancing towards the cash drawers when I walked up. I had no way to know. They are lucky that I didn't jump up on the conveyor belt and start kicking ass. I had some canned vegetables and a plastic basket, I am sure I could have done some damage. It would have been my civic duty. And all they had to work with were shopping bags and all the cigarettes from behind the service counter. And I don't care if they are called a hard pack, they still aren't that hard. Not compared to my canned green beans of death. Plus, they were all wearing bright white T-shirts, so there is no way I wouldn't be able to keep track of them. Now I know what you are saying "They would have outnumbered you quickly and probably sent some of the guys over to the alcohol section to get some glass bottles or something to take you out." Well of course, that's what anyone with a brain would have done, so I've already thought of that. I would have protected my flank by sharpshooting them one at a time with delicious Rolos from the candy rack. Nobody can survive a Rolo thrown with the precision of a chubby guy in a supermarket. All of that could have been avoided had they just put who they are on their matching T-shirts. It's so simple.
The second thing that I wonder about what the normal baggers. The professionals. I mean, you wouldn't think that there would be a difference between one greasy faced high schooler in a bright white T-shirt bagging up my frozen foods and another greasy faced high schooler in a maroon collared shirt bagging up my produce but there is. One of those greasy kids is getting paid. So if the White Shirts were doing the bagging for free, then that means none of the regular baggers were working that day. So granted, they get a nice Saturday off, but what about the next Saturday when the White Shirts show up? Or the Saturday after that. Pretty soon the regular baggers will be out of a job, replaced by White Shirts who are happy to bag my groceries for free because they don't have to follow the bagging rules. I get to choose between paper or plastic. My frozen things should be in their own plastic bags. Do not put all my cans in one bag. Those are the rules that I want to be followed, but the White Shirts don't have to follow them at all because they are not paid. So now all my canned pasta is falling out the bottom of my paper bag and onto my feet. Uncool. Well here's what's going to happen. I am going to recruit all the regular paid baggers to be my army on their days off, and I am going to equip them with cloth shopping bags filled with oranges that they can swing over their heads, and we are going to root out the White Shirts. And it will be glorious.
The third, and possibly most disturbing thing about my whole experience with the White Shirts was that there was no sort of sign or posting or flyer or billboard or information sheet anywhere explaining to me what was going on. Yet I blindly and obediently put a dollar in the big basket 'o money. That scares me. And it sets a very dangerous precedent. If I, the great leader of the massive bag boy army, just put a dollar in, imagine how many other people probably did. Pretty soon, anyone who wants money will just dress the same as a bunch of other people and put out a basket. They won't even have to play the saxophone. Or do a mime act. Or say that they are a church. There will just be collection baskets everywhere and we will be expected to contribute. That's nuts. And what's with the basket for receipts? That is a blatent invasion of my privacy. Yet it is hidden right out in the open. It's diabolically genius. They get all sorts of financial information and market research for free. Well no thank you, I choose not to participate in that business. If they want to know what kind of groceries I am buying, they will have to find out the old fashioned way. By tapping my phone line or digging through my garbage. I am not going to let some White Shirt sit on a pile of donated singles and look through my grocery receipt. That's not going to happen on my watch.
The bottom line is this: Just tell me what is going on and odds are, I will be more than happy to participate. Put on the front of your shirts who you are. Have the White Shirt explain to me that they are raising money for while he bags my groceries. Put up a little sign by the collection basket explaining how it works. I am sure that the White Shirts were out there for a good cause. I am sure they mean well. But you've got to be forthcoming if you want charity. That's how it works. And it will keep me from having to do a drive-by with Rolos in a shopping cart pushed by a paid grocery bagger. Because let's be honest, nobody wants that. Least of all the intended victim. Am I right?
This post originally posted on April 5, 2008