I have been itching to write about this since the election but there were more pressing issues to scratch with my pen until now. On November 8, Californians banned plastic bags in grocery and other stores via a proposition. Or did they? This year we had like 53 props on the ballot and it was just too late for me to cram for that exam. So the night before, I went to my friend who not only reads the cliff notes we get in that nice booklet but actually reads the entire proposition itself. He does it to make sure the nice people writing the cliff notes don’t leave something out or just plain lie about it. Just tell me what to vote for please, I email him. I am good as long as we say yes to pot so I never have to worry about bailing anyone I know out of jail and yes to anything Gavin Newsom tells us to. I need to make a good impression now before he becomes the cutest governor and president ever. I get back the list and I see he says NO to the plastic bag ban prop (PBBP for those of you who love acronyms as much as I do). Hmm that’s strange. He wants fish to choke on plastic? I mean this is a liberal, very smart, environmentally caring person. So I ask him why he will vote NO on the PBBP. Exasperated, he tells me it’s bad and no, he says, I am not going to write you a dissertation on it. I am exhausted from all the research to just come up with the answers for myself. Do what you want with my recommendations and vote however the hell you want. Maybe he’s just crabby because he had to vote for Hillary instead of Bernie. To his credit he did, not like some 20 million of you who shall remain nameless- literally. I digress, but you’ll probably get another one.
I vote No and the proposition passes. I hate when that happens. The day after the election I go to Ralphs Supermarket like I usually do without any reusable bags. What the hell? There are NO small plastic bags at the self service, perpetually broken check out machine. Wait we just voted on that last night. How are all the bags gone already? Were there plastic bag ninja patrols unleashed at dawn to swoop up all the remaining bags? And how can a newly voted proposition POSSIBLY be enacted the next day? And since it apparently can, why the hell can’t we do this with health care reform or minimum wage increase. Things like that. The nice store clerk responsible for us folks who can’t ever get those self service machines to work properly through an entire order asks if I want a bag. Whatttt??? I thought all bags are banned. No, he says, you can buy one for ten cents and shows me a humongous bag compared to the banned little ones. Let me get this straight. We enacted a proposition to ban plastic grocery bags so that we can actually sell BIGGER plastic grocery bags at ten cents a clip and put more money into the hands of the PB makers and MORE plastic into the mouths of the nice fish in the ocean. Who are the morons who came up with this brilliance and thank you, my cranky proposition researching friend, for making sure I was not one of the morons who voted for it. Store clerk shakes his head. I know he says, makes no sense. I guess it’s to make people bring their own reusable bags. Well it won’t work. I have stacks of those reusable bags in my car trunk that never see the light of day. Even the stylishly cute ones with the palm trees and beach scenes on them don’t make it out of the trunk. If we were humanly capable of remembering to bring our own bags in, we would not have needed a proposition asking us nicely to do so. The walls of Ralphs would have been lined for years to the ceiling with stacks of dusty unused grocery bags. Flummoxed I am and now generally annoyed each time I shop because I keep being asked, wanna buy a bag? Wanna buy a bag? Wanna buy a bag? If you ask me that again without said bag containing illegal drugs I am gonna bite you I finally tell a clerk.
It was just a matter of time before the juggling and the extra trips started though. Yes, this bagless society they want us to become is a slippery slope. After a while I refuse to do both. I will not contribute to an Orwellian society. I refuse to buy a bag and I refuse to remember to bring in my reusable ones. How to get the stuff out of the store though is quite a feat each time. Do I randomly throw the stuff into the cart? Do I stuff my pockets with crap and juggle the rest? And what about theft? There was a logical order to things before November 8 and not for the obvious reason. It was because when you left a store with groceries or items in a bag it was assumed you paid for them. Now it’s anyone’s guess. Do you know how easy shoplifting has become? I am one of those people who HATE receipts. I leave them in the machine each time or I throw them away before I leave the store unless I am just borrowing something and will be returning it soon. Then I practically tattoo that receipt to my body. So another thing I have to deal with now is making sure I take the damn receipt in case eventually they may want someone to check it to see what you helped yourself to this time.
Those are not the only damn problems with this plastic bag banned world we live in. The shallots now have a slim chance of making it home. The tiny things you used to simply throw in the bag as soon as you scanned them have no chance. Once you throw them down willy nilly on that flat surface where the bags used to be, they will inevitably roll under something and you won’t see it happening ever. You will get home and go to dice it up for that nice champagne vinegar and honey dressing that Rosie, one of Oprah’s chefs, taught you to make 20 years ago and there will be no damn shallot to be found. So now you have to go back to the store and explain how your shallot is missing and look under all the stupid crevices at the checkout stand. But of course you have to hope you have an honest face cause if you are like me you threw the damn receipt away as soon as you left the store. Now you are probably too exhausted even to chop the damn thing when you get home. For those of you who keep asking how I spend my time in retirement now you know. And for those who are rolling their eyes and thinking she has way too much time on her hands, I don’t. I have too much hands on my time actually. There, digression two for you.
Back to the checkout stand. A new problem surfaced just the other day in our new Utopian plastic bag free world. You now have to practice your grocery throwing before you get to the store. Before, when you tossed say a package of prosciutto after scanning it, it always landed nicely into the plastic bag that was there to catch it. The free bag. The new costly, humongous ten cent ones don’t fit by the way. So now with no bag there to catch it, your prosciutto goes flying off the back of the former bag stand and is now on the floor in between two sets of self service checkout machines. A no man’s land where all the bending in the world will not enable you to rescue it. So there you are now having to wait for a store clerk to come and help. But it can’t be any store clerk. It has to be a very young, no more than 90 pounds soaking wet with arms about five feet long clerk who can actually bend and reach the package without spraining various body parts. All the while the line behind you of people who actually brought their own reusable bags is getting longer and angrier by the minute. You get your prosciutto. You slink out of the store after wildly throwing everything you bought into the cart and hope the eggs survive.
Some days though your rebel spirit will just not cooperate and you break down and buy one of the humongous bags for ten cents. Maybe even two of them if you are having a bad bag day. The problem here is the potential injury these bags cause. There was an unspoken rule with the little plastic bags. They were made so that you could carry a reasonable amount of groceries in them without popping a hernia. These new costly ones instead allow you to stuff like a hundred pounds of groceries into them and you often do. Because it makes much more sense to damage a disk in your back and give the doctor thousands of dollars than it does to simply buy two more grocery bags for 20 cents more. In summary-this means I am ending it cause I have nothing more to say on the subject but if I stopped at that last sentence I will get reprimanded that I didn’t have a strong enough ending. Not sure that is really needed everywhere but hey who I am to argue. The final thought I leave you then with on this topic is, what on earth will the dog walkers who relied on those little plastic bags do when they are all gone… I shudder to think.