Sunday, March 15, 2015

Not Sure If I Want My Milk In A Bag

Every time I do our weekly grocery shopping I have a high level of anxiety while checking out, because I know, as I stand there watching items get swept across the scanner, that I will soon be asked that dreaded question by the bagger, “Would you like your milk in a bag?” And I just don’t know the right answer.

The truth is I don’t drink milk myself, and haven’t drunk it for almost 25 years. And back when I was drinking milk, I was living at home and my mom was the one who did the grocery shopping. So it wasn’t really until about seven years ago, when my older son turned one and was given the go ahead to drink milk by his pediatrician, that I purchased milk for the first time. (Yes, it’s strange that someone can go 38 years without ever having to purchase milk, but I’ve led a charmed life.)

So for the past seven years, every time I go to the grocery store, I’m asked the same loaded question, “Would you like your milk in a bag?” To this day I’m not sure why I’m being asked this, because there’s no other item that they ever ask me this about. And really, why wouldn’t I want all of my groceries in a bag? It sure seems convenient.

The first time I was asked this, I thought the kid was just joshing around with me, so I played along and said, “Nooooo. Whatever you do, keep that thing out of a bag.” He looked at me funny and didn’t bag my milk. I thought he was just playing along with the gag.

But the next time I had a different bagger and she asked me the same question. I nervously chuckled and said, “Yes, please. I’d like my milk in a bag.” And she obeyed.

It was at this point that I realized that grocery store workers must think this is a legitimate question. Indeed, there must be some customers who prefer not to have this particular grocery item in a bag, otherwise why would the question be asked? I wondered if there is a right answer to this question. And does it say something about me as a person if I want my milk bagged or not bagged?

But why is this question being asked in the first place? I’ve spent many a night up late wondering about this. It can’t be because of the size and shape, because I’ve purchased things like orange juice in similar containers and don’t get asked this question. It can’t be because it’s dairy, because nobody has ever asked me if I want my sour cream or butter in a bag. I wondered if maybe there’s some sort of deadly chemical reaction that takes place between milk and grocery bags, but then I assumed if that was the case they wouldn’t even give you the option, otherwise they’d lose a lot of customers.

Now, seven years into my milk buying days, I’m still not sure why I’m being asked this question or how I should answer. So I change up my answer on a frequent basis. Sometimes I say, “Yes!” sometimes I say, “No!” and sometimes I say “Surprise me!” just to see the look on the bagger’s face. Once, when I was in a particularly playful mood, I said, “Yes, I’d like my milk in a bag, but not my pickles, toothpaste or instant brown rice.” I got a blank stare and then everything was bagged anyway.

And so, this week when I go grocery shopping, the same mystery will play itself out. I’ll get asked if I want my milk in a bag, my heart rate will increase as I desperately wonder how I’m supposed to respond, I’ll mentally flip a coin to make my choice, and life will go on as usual. Or maybe I’ll just turn the tables on the bagger and say, “Do you want my milk in a bag?” Ah-ha! Let’s see what happens when the shoe is on the other foot!