Who knew that plastic grocery bags could ignite so much discussion? If you don’t believe me, check out Emily’s post on the subject and see how many comments there are!
I was going to comment on Emily’s post but then I realized it was becoming way too long, so I thought I’d turn it into a post.
Grocery stores in Chile have their little peculiarities. You have to weigh your fruit and bread before going to the check-out. The baggers don’t receive a salary; they only make the tips you give them for bagging your groceries. A lot of supermarkets have a “Club” of some sort that gives you discounts, so if you belong to that club you will have to say your RUT (Chilean ID number) to the cashier, usually after they have scanned the first item. If you pay with a credit card and it’s foreign, they sometimes get a little confused and will ask you to enter a pin, but that is only for Chilean credit cards. Then they might ask you if you want “cuotas” or not because yes, you can pay off your groceries here in Chile in monthly payments if you’d like.
So my bone to pick with Chilean grocery stores mainly has to do with the fact that I use reusable grocery bags. Yes, I do need plastic bags for the garbage cans or for Charlie’s litter box, but I end up with enough even though I always try to bring my reusable bags.
So this is what ideally would happen. I would wait in line with my groceries, and be in the line that moves quickly. Then after little to no wait I would pass my reusable bag to the bagger as the cashier scans the first item, then say my RUT and the cashier would understand on the first try, and scan all my items which the bagger would put in my reusable bag. I would have enough coins to give the bagger a tip and I’d be on my way.
However, usually what happens is this.
1. There is a long line and multiple old ladies have some sort of problem with the price of an item or recharging their cell phone. Why do I always pick the slowest line?
2. I forget to pass my reusable bag to the bagger until they’ve already put my food in plastic bags.
3. Once in a blue moon I forget my reusable bag all together and the bagger puts each of my items in a separate bag. I then rearrange them into 1-2 bags before leaving and people behind me get pissed. I’m not sure why baggers think it’s necessary to put each food group in a separate bag, but this has happened to me a lot. Do they think they’ll get more tips for categorizing my food?
4. The cashier can’t understand my RUT because it’s full of threes and sixes which sound similar in Spanish (tres y seis) and while I’m distracted with this, I forget to give the bagger my reusable bag and she’s already bagged my groceries in plastic.
5. The bagger looks at my reusable bag and says “You want the groceries in this?” No, buddy, I just gave it to you because I think it’s pretty!
6. The bagger thinks it’s a good idea to put the groceries in plastic first, and then in the cloth bag. What, I may ask, is the purpose of that?
7. I look in my wallet to realize I only have 37 pesos to give the bagger. (I usually give 100-150, more if I have a lot of groceries, but I usually don’t have that many)
Anyway, you can see how a simple grocery check out can be stressful for me, and how I end up with lots of plastic bags even though I “always” bring my cloth bag.