Open Letter(s) to Target Managers, or Why I Hate Your Cashiers’ Bagging Skills

Dear Target Manager,

I appreciate that Target offers me a discount for using reusable bags. I especially appreciate that the policy changed from 5 cents off to 5 cents per bag. I like getting financial incentives to recycle, reuse, all that crap.

reusable bags, reusable totes, tote bags, reusable shopping bags, shopping bags
My reusable bag stash that I keep in my car.

What I do NOT appreciate is how you’ve very obviously instructed your employees to pack as much as possible into one reusable bag. Today’s shopping experience involved me watch the cashier play Tetris with my items – canned tomatoes on top of a soft item?! are you for real?! – because she was hell bent on not using my second bag. She even asked me, “Do you want this in a bag?” when I had two items left, one of which couldn’t be easily carried out (bottle with no handle) and one which would be much easier for me to carry in a bag (small case of sparkling water). I made her use the second bag, but I could tell she wasn’t thrilled about it.

This reusable-bag overloading wasn’t the first time this has happened, either: I’ve had the same experience at the same Target store, with different cashiers. They all seem a bit squirrely as they are bagging the items, too, as if they know the customer may curse them out for overloading one bag. I suspect many customers have complained, yet the practice continues.

As a single woman, I don’t enjoy schlepping bags upstairs to my apartment, no matter what’s inside them: new shoes, makeup, groceries, cleaning products, a grumpy cat post-vet visit. I particularly hate it when the bags are packed so damn heavy that I fear I will topple over on the stairs, landing at the bottom covered in dry beans, white vinegar and quinoa. (I’m looking at you, Trader Joe’s, with your friendly hipster cashiers who pack fairly efficiently but again, all the heavy stuff seems to wind up in one bag. Space them out, dammit!) It’s much more tolerable if the bags are packed for transport AND efficiency, not just efficiency. (The issue of keeping frozen/refrigerated items together is a post for another time.)

But I digress. Here’s the thing, Mr/Ms. Target Manager: if you’ve given your cashiers some sort of lecture or warning about too many reusable bag credits per shift, shame on you. If this edict is coming from corporate, then y’all need to rethink your strategy here. If California enacts the plastic bag ban law, I figure you’ll eliminate the reusable bag discount, at least in CA. In the meantime, stop overloading my bags.



Paint It Black Friday

My dear friend Ms. Chick recently wrote a blog post about Black Friday. After reading it, I started to comment, then realized it would make for a better blog post.

Ms. Chick’s post focuses on the madness that is Black Friday sales, and how they are starting earlier and earlier each year. The discount stores such as Wal-Mart and Kmart are fond of late Thursday sales. I know people who thrive on mingling with large crowds to get their holiday shopping done. Possibly they get an adrenaline rush from the experience. As for me, I’m not a fan of shopping on Black Friday, though I admit to occasionally hanging out at malls & shopping centers the day after Thanksgiving to people watch. I’m a fiction writer, so this constitutes research.

Where I took issue, though, is with the end of her post:

It’s not like someone has a denominational difference that would prevent them from celebrating Thanksgiving.  It’s a purely secular holiday.


…It’s just that is whatever you are going to buy so important that you have to give up sleep and time with family/friends in order to obtain it? Not to mention possibly trample someone? And do you really need to see a movie on Thanksgiving?  Can’t you wait until the next day or watch something at home?

The holidays are a really tough time for folks who can’t be with family or friends for whatever reason, or their family is so freakin’ dysfunctional that it’s easier to be on their own. Even before Momcat died, I wasn’t a big fan of the Thanksgiving/Christmas season: I always had high expectations, only to end up feeling let down. There were several years when I made a point of doing nothing for either holiday because I wanted the freedom to do what I wanted, when I wanted, and with whom I wanted. There were other years in which I spent holidays with friends and those were really fun times. Again, it’s what fiction writers call research.

What it comes down to is this: I love my family and friends, and yet during the holiday season it can be so difficult for me to love them as fully as I normally would. Spending time with them can also be difficult. This has nothing to do with them and everything to do with me. Yet being alone is just as hard, because my brain loops back through all those memories of holidays gone by and lost loved ones, which makes me feel much worse. Despite all this, I try to find ways to make the holidays pleasant for myself, because dwelling on the used-to-be’s and the remember-back-when’s can be emotionally crippling. I think that’s why I love the original version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, because of these lines:

Someday soon we all will be together

If the fates allow

Until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow

For that reason, escaping to a shopping mall or movie theatre, where I can float anonymously through a sea of humanity, sounds like a good way to muddle through.

Paper vs. Plastic

plastic bags awaiting recycling, plastic bags, plastic shopping bags
Photo courtesy Evelyn Giggles

On Monday my old stomping grounds, aka Long Beach, outlawed plastic shopping bags. Now shoppers in the LBC need to haul their own bags to the store or fork over 10 cents for a paper bag.

Just down the block from my new stomping grounds in Sacramento, the California Supreme Court ruled that environmental studies aren’t necessary in order to ban plastic bags in smaller cities.

I’m all for recycling and saving the rainforests, polar bears, dolphins, you name it. But banning plastic bags impacts my ability to scoop the poop and clean up puke. And by poop and puke I’m talking about the stuff coming from my cat.

Sure, I could use paper bags when I’m cleaning out the litter box. But I’ve discovered that holding a plastic bag over my hand to pick up cat puke is much less labor intensive than using a paper towel (also bad for the environment, right?). And let me tell you, this cat was puking a LOT over the last month. It was not pleasant. (Hairball problem – she’s doing better now, thank goodness.)

There are also groups that rail against using paper bags, and studies that say paper isn’t much better. Just google “paper bag facts” and you’ll find several articles discussing the paper versus plastic debate, including this one.

I use my fabric shopping bags often, especially for groceries, but on small trips I’ll get the plastic bags, mainly to restock my supply of cat maintenance materials. Maybe stores still offering plastic and paper can start asking whether I want to save the oceans or the trees. That way I can still be environmentally correct. Sort of.

Has your town banned plastic bags?

How has it changed your shopping experiences?

Moxie’s Resolutions for Everyone Else: 2010 Edition

As is the tradition on this blog for several years running, I have compiled my list of 2010 resolutions…but not for me. I am perfect and only need to resolve to have compassion for those who haven’t achieved perfection. Everyone else, however – you have a hell of a lot of work to do.

  1. Learn the value of silence. (Cell phone users) Yes, it’s tempting to get on your Droid or iPhone or Crackberry every time you’re out and there’s nothing or no one actively working to entertain you. Of course, I wouldn’t know anything about this because I’m perfect. (cough cough) There’s something to be said for having a moment of tranquility where all gadgets are off and you’re just observing the world around you. The Internet is not going anywhere, so give yourself at least five minutes every hour to just be still.
  2. Stop Christmas Creep, Valentine’s Day Invasion and Easter Edge-out. (Major retailers) Can we just enjoy holidays without being rushed to prepare for the next one? I give Nordstrom kudos for not succumbing to the Creep this Christmas.
  3. Improve my service and coverage area. (AT&T) I don’t understand this company. They want everyone to buy an iPhone, upgrade their iPhones, get any other smartphone they are selling, and yet they complain that iPhone users who stream movies and other video are screwing up the network. Their solution? Get iPhone users to use wifi as much as possible. Um, hello? How about putting the proper infrastructure in place before releasing advanced technology? Oh crap, there I go making sense again. No wonder I don’t have a job.
  4. Stop whining and be with the consequences of being famous. (Miley Cyrus and other celebs who claim to have no privacy) Get over yourselves already. As soon as you decided you wanted to be an actor or singer or professional athlete, you signed up for the possibility that you would a) make it to the big time and b) become a target for the tabloids. You don’t want this life? Go find a job in retail and shut the hell up.
  5. Find a great marketing agency that will come up with a campaign to remind people of the joy of writing – and sending – letters. (USPS) I’m trying to write more notes and letters to people. It gives me joy to think someone will open their mailbox to see a funny card, newsy note or heartfelt letter, instead of a pile of bills and junk mail. The US Postal Service is already struggling financially, so why not play up the sentimental side of letter writing/receiving and start a campaign where folks are encouraged to write one letter every 10 days? It would help improve literacy too, I’d bet.
  6. Start up Chick-Fil-A franchises in Chicago. (Chick-Fil-A) This resolution is a shout-out for T-Wizzle, who is a big fan of Chick-Fil-A and gets mad at me whenever I mention I went there for a sammich. I don’t understand why the chain hasn’t expanded into the Chicago market. They like chicken up there. And sweet tea, too.
  7. Know my limits when it comes to home repair and be humble enough to call in professional repair personnel. (my apartment management and others who DIY it) I could go on for days about all the craptastic fix-it jobs I’ve seen at my building. Pops also has a tendency to fix things in a half-assed way, but fortunately he’s learning the limits of his expertise in areas such as plumbing. Rule of thumb: If you have to use more than 6 inches of duct tape to fix something, then you don’t know what the hell you’re doing and need to call in a professional.
  8. Stop assuming that everyone over the age of 30 knows absolutely nothing about technology. (Generation Y and younger) Don’t roll your eyes at me when I ask a question about tethering or live streaming, and don’t talk to me as if I am completely ignorant about computers. If it wasn’t for my generation and the baby boomers, you wouldn’t have even had computers in your first grade classroom. Learn to appreciate your elders and what they have made possible.
  9. Stop assuming that everyone under the age of 30 is an arrogant jackass. (Generation X, baby boomers and older) Yes, this is a tough one. While Gen Y may be incredibly self-absorbed at times, they are also showing themselves to be committed to making the world a better place. Teach them the rules, then show them how to break them in a way that no one gets hurt.
  10. Break up with food additives. (Campbell’s, Kraft, and other major food manufacturers) I am tired of reading 2-inch long food labels listing all the chemicals and other crap in a can of soup. I get that you want people to be repeat buyers of your products, but can’t you do that without adding MSG, high fructose corn syrup, GMOs and other garbage? Explore new ways of making delicious food without all the extra gunk.

Any resolutions you’d like to give someone else?