Saturday, February 23, 2013

Ma'm would you like to buy a bag?

It feels great to finally make it to the front of a queue. Especially if it is a busy counter of a food store at the supermarket. I took out bottles, pastes, seasonings, and various other things from the shopping basket. Proudly put them onto the chrome bay by the cashier. It is a sign of marking the territory. To let everyone know that the counter, the cashier, and the card swiping machine belong to you for the next 3 minutes.

So it came as a rude shock when the lady asked me, "Mam, would you like to buy a shopping bag?".

"No, thanks." I assumed she wanted to palm off one of those promotional bags with their logos.

She looked around and then stared at me for a few seconds. Very uncomfortable few seconds. I realised that I had no option but to buy a bag unless I magically sprouted 20 hands at that very instant, next to my own only two. I asked her, "How much?"

"Rupees 7 for the paper bag and Rupees 50 for the cloth bag."

I took a paper bag and made a hasty exit wondering whatever happened to the free shopping bags the stores provided.

The same thing happened again at Fabindia. "Ma'm would you like to buy a bag?". This time I didn't mind being shameless. "No, thanks." I said as I rolled up my purchase into a bundle and carried it out.

"Hmm...stores have stopped giving free bags", I thought to myself. The good old days of carrying your own shopping bag to the stores were back.

I was equipped well for my next visit to the food store. So I dusted and picked one of my old shopping bags from the lot that were meant only for Sarojininar and Karol Bagh.

"You cannot take the bag inside", the security guard stopped me.

"How will I carry the things out otherwise?"

"You can get the shopping cart back up to this point."

I looked around. The big store trend of a 'bag depositing' area had trickled down to the smaller ones too. I left my shopping bag at the entrance with the kind caretaker of all bags.

I was back, to the front of the line at the check out counter. I proudly emptied all the contents from the cart and politely declined to buy any bag. When you buy a lot from a store, you feel an instant connect with the cashier. You imagine yourself to be one of their favourite customers because you bring them so much profit. When they smile at you as they hand your credit card back, you think they are silently saying "thank you for buying so much". It is such a nice warm feel-good bubble.

My bubble burst when I turned around for my empty shopping cart to put the groceries back in. Eager customers behind me had pushed it away and lined their carts in its place. A helper boy was gladly wheeling it away towards the entrance.

I looked at the queue behind me. My three minutes of ownership were over. They wanted me out of the line. I turned to the counter. The sweet lady at the counter smiled "Ma'm would you like to buy a bag?". None of my imaginary 'you are such a valued customer, I will give you a free bag' gesture followed.

"Yes please, a cloth one", I specified as I took out a 50 rupee note from my wallet. I needed a strong bag for all the maniacal shopping I had done.

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