Not muchToday I scrambled around madly to get to the grocery store, and then to go buy a new booster seat for the carpooling (rather than making my daughter lug hers in and out of school, I found one of the 1/2 boosters so we can leave it in their car. I'm hoping they will do the same, so that we don't have to move seats around every day). I even managed to take my own bags with me to mega-grocery store, which usually puts my groceries in about a zillion chintzy plastic bags that rip so easily they are not even fit for scooping poop. But today I wheeled on up and announced, blithely, "Oh, I have some bags with me." This did not bring joy to the checker's heart. He was already tossing stuff pell-mell into the chintzy pre-placed plastic bag, and even though I told him to "leave that--I have more than will fit in what I brought," he gave me a surly look and proceeded to slowly and v-e-r-y d-e-l-i-b-e-r-a-t-e-l-y remove every item and repack it in my motley collection of bags, and then to call for back-up because, presumably, it was so very taxing to use 4 large canvas bags rather than the 19 flimsy plastic ones. Other west coast cities have legislated bans or fines on plastic bags, but here in mid-sized, blue-collar regional city, such measures are considered foolish liberal coddling, at best, and a serious infringement of one's civil rights, at worst. (Remember, article 3 or whatever it is--right after the free standing militia, we have the right to waste plastic products. Is this a great country, or what?)
In a lot of ways, I like this town better than my former urban, liberal paradise. In general, daily encounters are friendlier--the service-industry folks around here have been at their jobs a long time, and are firmly entrenched in the community. I see the grocery checkers and mail carriers with their kids at the Y, run into campus colleagues at nearly every restaurant or farmer's market, and get a smile or hello from almost everyone we pass on the street. At least ten houses in my neighborhood are inhabited by local police, firefighters, sheriff's deputies, etc. But there's a certain entrenched defensiveness around here about that nefarious "liberal agenda"--you know, crazy stuff like not driving souped up trucks that sit on huge tires 8 feet above the ground; or neutering pets and keeping dogs indoors, rather than chaining them outside to bark all hours of the day and night; to recycling the numerous items that can be recycled (like a lot of cities, our recycling bins our free, and we pay for garbage pick-up. My next-door neighbors seem not to have gotten the memo: last week they put out plastic garbage bags *filled* with empty cans and bottles from their recent bbq. It was all I could do not to a) move it all to their recycling; b) leave them a nasty note; c) call the eco-police on their lazy, ignorant asses [hyperbole alert! I realize they may come from a more primitive planet where the resources are never renewable...].
I wonder if grocery clerks are like HMO doctors in that they have a certain time limit per order, and a minimum number of orders per day? If so, my heavily laden cart and persnickety bag requests probably do seem like the workings of an unjust universe.
Last word on the subject: these are the most beautiful grocery bags in the world, and they are eco-friendly, tall enough for all your stuff not to fall out, and produced by the aunt of a friend of mine. Go forth and purchase, y'all! These bags actually look good floating around in your car, instead of those grungy co-op-style canvas, the puny local-NPR-affiliate swag, or the lurid brand-advertising ones.
My daughter and I are reading James and the Giant Peach, which is the "everyone reads" choice for her new school. Frankly, I think she's too young to appreciate its subtle word play, ghoulish humor, and fantasticalness, but she's enjoying it--and so am I. She is fascinated by the fact that centipedes don't necessarily have 100 feet, and by the fact that "centi" means 100 and "ped" means foot. This morning, I blew her mind by telling her there were also things called millipedes. I'm really going to miss being the star of her universe and the funniest, smartest person she knows. But it was good while I lasted!