Friday, March 21, 2008

Those Baggers at the Commissary

Ok, I've been resisting writing this post, but I have two kids asleep on the living room couches and another one in my lap, so I'm stuck at the computer for awhile and I need something to do! I have a pet peeve about military life. I don't know why this drives me nuts, but it totally does. Here at the commissary (that's our grocery store for my non-military readers), they have baggers who work for free. Oh, wait, not actually for free, if you read the nice big sign up on the wall: "Warning, Baggers Work for Tips Only! They will give you dirty looks if you don't comply. Don't even think about taking your groceries out yourself! This will be awkward and we will all look at you like you are cheating us." Ok, so I added a little bit there, but that's how it should read in my opinion. I love, love the commissary. Aside from the free health care, it's one of my favorite perks being married to guy in the military. When I was first married, I used to comparison shop at the other grocery stores in town. That is, until I discovered the little bit more I could save by going out to get a few random things on sale was quickly blown on gas getting there. So, I only shop at the commissary now. Which means I need to deal with baggers. Now, I should preface this by saying the baggers are generally very polite, and I've never had anyone be openly rude to me. But, it's incredibly awkward to reach the check out line, watch them bag your stuff and put on their little cart, and know they are going to go out with you to your car and you can't let them walk away without giving them some indiscriminate amount of cash. We have asked them to just put it back in our cart, but it's awkward to do this, and then I feel like I need to run from the building just to stop the guilty stares aimed at my back. The biggest part of this problem is definitely what do you pay these people?! I've heard so many different methods people use. The 25 cents a bag tip I refuse to follow. Why? Because most of the baggers have perfected the art of bagging two things to a bag. It's ridiculous how many bags we end up with. I read a random blog post on Spousebuzz a while back (if you link there, make sure you read the comments - yikes!) that had a lot of people posting they pay the baggers 5-6 dollars for the trip. Say what? That means these people can easily make 15 or so dollars an hour there. That's more than I made working at my first real job with benefits out of college. Someone also posted on that same blog post that they thought a person should pay the difference between what they spent at the commissary and what they could have spent at the store. Say what?! So, because the military allows us to save at the commissary, what they are really doing is trying to find a way to avoid paying their baggers. Ok. Now that that is all cleared up, I should do my duty is pay these people what they deserve. Except, I'm really not on board. They bag my groceries, yes. And sometimes I even have a full cart. And they do walk it out to the car. Sometimes in the rain. And they even load it - or they start to. Veeeerrrryyyy slowly. So I have the time to buckle two kids into the car, fish around in the console for some loose change, and then load more than half the groceries myself. So, they get a $1.00, often $2, and if it's Christmas or something, maybe even some loose change or an extra dollar, too. That's it. The only time I paid someone more than that, the guy didn't even say thank you. He just walked away, and then I turned around to discover my trunk had been packed in such a way I couldn't even close it. Mm, yeah, not giving anyone $5 again. I do appreciate the effort they expend on my behalf, especially when I'm pregnant. And it's nice not to have to walk a cart back at the end. But, to be totally honest, I would happily do this just to avoid the awkwardness of this experience. They just installed self-checkout lanes at our commissary. I hate these things with a passion and refuse to use them unless absolutely necessary. But, there are times when I look at them and think, "Hey, no baggers over there! Maybe there is a reason to use them....maybe." And then I look at all the groceries in my cart and decide that paying someone $2 and dealing with a bit of weirdness is definitely not worse than trying to scan everything on my own. They really do need to change that sign, though.

6 sonar pings:

trying said...

Oh I'm with you, I think the bagging thing is so uncomfortable. At our commissary its not too bad, they dont walk out to the car with you they just bag your groceries in line. But really when I have only a few items how much am I really expected to tip? I find it awkward when I go to other commissaries when I'm at my parents and they follow me out to the car I dont know what to do, I'm not used to that, I have my own system for sorting bags in the trunk. I dont think a grocery trip should reduce one to a panic attack in the parking lot.... yet it does!

oh and about your comment on my post earlier... my husband FREAKED when I bought a yellow magnet a few years back. Its on the fridge now not the car!

Sgt and Mrs Hub said...

Yeah, I have issues with baggers. I mean, seriously, the cashiers at the regular grocery store bag my groceries and don't expect a tip. They don't walk it out to my car but I hate that anyways... I like self check out lines actually. I used one the last time I was at Hanscom (Boston) and really enjoyed the stress free shopping experience.

I once had a MSGT see me give a bagger a five for bagging. I thought he was going to yell at me - he was NOT happy. He said a dollar, maybe two was appropriate.

Ugg... I just hate it all. It's stupid. And I really mean that :)


sues2u2 said...

Wow! I had no idea that bagging was such a hot topic.
Umm, I was a bagger once & I guess since then I didn't think twice about someone taking groceries to my car. Look on this as an oppurtunity to be pampered. You have small children & deserve this! Taking your own cart out is fine though.
That old 24 cents a bag is garbage! A dollar or two a cart is fine. I tend to give more to the baggers that I feel do a good job BUT that is me & I was one. Unless it is a teen that you know don't go to them! They don't understand that the dollar you give them represents VERY hard work & that it really has to stretch far. I actually go to the lines that have baggers I feel do a good job rather than to the cashier I like. I appreciate the older baggers the most. They seem to understand (although there are exceptions!) that I don't want my bananas with my frozen stuff or that my bread goes on top of the eggs! Or & this is my biggest peeve, that cleaning supplies go in a bag with other cleaning supplies not food!!!
Please try not to let the baggers bother you. Since it seems like the baggers are quite an issue where you are, try talking to the commissary management. Baggers are there as a service & patrons should never feel pressured.
I would also suggest when using the express or when you have only a few things, only give a quarter or two.
I do agree that bagging can pay very well. On the plus side, when your children are old enough for part time jobs you will appreciate that they can work on base easily & that the hours are reasonable.
Best of luck!

Ana said...

Hey, thanks for chiming in, Sues2u2 - I don't really know anyone who as actually done it, so I always wonder what they would say about this. As in, do they watch who gives more and talk about us cheapskates behind our backs? Hehe, still won't change me.

In fairness, there are a lot of good baggers and I don't mind giving them more for being nice and doing a good job, but I still hate the whole tipping thing. It's too arbitrary and weird.

Mrs. Staff Sergeant said...

I sooo hate the baggers too! The whole thing is just weird and uncomfortable for me as well. I dont mind tipping them a couple of dollars, but I almost never carry cash, so it's a big hassle to have to go to the ATM with my kids in tow and take out a $20 and pay the ATM fee just to have that $2 on hand.

I like to bring my groceries out myslef. (Half the time I cant even remember where I've parked my car so then I look super foolish to the bagger following me out to the lot! lol) So I've been using the self check out registers even when I have a whole huge cart full of stuff.

I guess it's supposed to be a perk for us to have the "help", but I'd just as soon do without it ;)

Anonymous said...

I hate the awkwardness of tipping baggers at the commissary. Here in Hawaii they are rude to my husband and I most of the time they give you stink eye and talk about you in their foreign language, filipino/ thai. No matter what you tip them $1 or $5 they give you a dirty look and walk off mumbling curses under their breath. I've had a few run the cart into my ankle and not say a thing. Now we don't tip them anything if we get bad service.