There are seventeen some-odd items in my green handcart. Frozen entrees, frozen spinach pancakes, two types of broth, LARA bars. All of a sudden I understand the bachelor mentality. The idea of slicing up a chicken to make a delicious stir-fry for just little old me seems absolutely ridiculous, even on the days I stay home literally all day. I microwaved a sweet potato for the first time the other week. I’ve never stooped so low.
And so I stand in the middle lane, shuffling my handcart along the cement floor in unison with the shoppers to my left and to my right. Four of us move in a synchronized fashion and I listen to the symphony of grating plastic sliding across the floor.
The loud Robo-Tron voice tells me it’s my turn to offer up money to the organic gods. Please take this paycheck as an offering of thanks and gratitude, Mother Earth. I hope Whole Foods cuts you a percentage. I walk over to the check out counter at the end. My handcart gets propped up in front of my male Whole Foods employee who will be assisting me for the next five uncomfortable minutes.
“Are you going to need a bag?”
He looks at me with eyes that both dare and taunt. Clearly, he sees that I have no canvas or otherwise eco-friendly bag currently in my possession. No, man. I’m going to fucking juggle this shit all the way down Bowery.
“Yeah, and actually, if you could get it into two separate ones….That’d be great.”
My voice hangs apologetically in the air and I make emphasis with my two hands that I would like a bag in each of them while I’m walking home. I don’t think this translates.
“I will do my best.”
I’m confused. You’re going to do your best to give me what I asked for? This is the type of thing you say when someone requests that you place seventeen pounds of Macintosh apples into a tiny plastic bag with a hole already forming at the bottom. On that occasion, “I will do my best” is entirely apropos. “I will do my best” is what people say when a request is practically out of the question and entirely ridiculous. It certainly isn’t hard to fill two paper bags with an amount that could be placed entirely into one if need be.
Just give me what I asked for, asshole.
Ordinarily, I wouldn’t be so perturbed at this man’s passive aggressive way of chastising me for participating in the deforestation of Uruguay. But this happened the last time I was here when I asked for the same thing, and then I even stipulated that I didn’t need a big bag, just two small ones. The counter dude stared me down, sighed, and relented. “Fine. But I can’t double bag it.”
I wasn’t asking for gratuitous baggage. All I wanted was to separate my thirty pounds for canned soup and bags of nuts to be equally distributed by weight so that I could get home without pimp walking. Letcha shoulda lean, shoulda lean. Asshole.
Don’t get me wrong; I am an avid environmentalist. Plastic bags suck. Paper bags suck, too. I acknowledge that my shuttling back and forth across the country on airplanes multiple times a year is probably killing a whole slew of polar bears. But I will hold on to plastic bottles all day long so that I can recycle them at home and not just throw them into any old trash can. I get it. But this is New York. I don’t have a car. I can’t carry around two reusable bags in the bag I’m already carrying the rest of my life in. I don’t know when I’m going to want to go grocery shopping. I don’t have a car I can take things away in. And on top of all that, my building doesn’t even give me the option of recycling. The logistics of this city has rendered me an environmental terrorist. Manhattan is not terribly “green” and to expect me to be in spite of all obvious odds is fucking ridiculous. Lo siento, mucho.
“I’ll see what I can do.”
I watch as my disgruntled employee carefully stacks my boxes of crackers artfully next to other squares and rectangles. He wants it to all fit, I know it. I wonder when he’ll give up on his ridiculousness and just start filling the next bag. It’s like an activist’s game of chicken. Oh, yeah? You wanna kill some trees today, huh?
His judgment is palpable and I stare mindlessly at the sleeve of my coat and tap my plastic credit card on the counter. Last time, I tried to explain that I just moved here from Los Angeles and they’d be so proud of how many plastic and paper bags I never used, how I’d just put bottles of ketchup in my purse if I had room. But that shtick gets old real fast. I’m not going to apologize for myself into perpetuity. I feel like a young Republican.
Anticipating a chilly outdoors, I take my leather gloves out of my bag and as I’m pulling them on I wonder if this guy is part of PETA and he’s watching me like I’m burying my hands into the side of a cow. I quickly hide them at my side. As quickly as he was done putting the last of my overpriced frozen dinners into the second bag (victory), I swipe my card, press a green button, sign my name, and take off.
As I began my trek home, shoulders ergonomically placed at the same exact height, I began to rant in my head. Had I the huevos rancheros, here’s what I would have said:
You know what, judgey wudgey Whole Foods employee? My scoliosis is bad for the environment too. Because one day, I’m going to be so crippled from shuttling organic apples and frozen vegan dinners back and forth between Houston and Canal that my back will be twisted like a grape vine. And you know what happens them? I’m going to need a battery-operated wheelchair to get me around everywhere. And when I kick the bucket at a hundred and two because of all of those nutritious and pesticide free fruits and veggies and cage free eggs I’ve bought from you weenies, that battery from my wheelchair is going to get thrown into a dump somewhere and start leaching into the groundwater, eventually traveling through the pipes of a school system somewhere near Redlands and it will poison the entire third grade class. So give me my fucking two paper bags that I am going to reuse as trash bags after this anyway and stop looking at me like that. Maybe I’m just reading too much Bret Easton Ellis right now, but come on baby, spare me.