“Will you be needing a bag?” This once perfunctory question is now loaded with accusation and charged with political meaning here in San Francisco. Especially with this particular clerk at Walgreens, the one that chides me for not bringing my photo claim slip when she darn well knows my name by now and the prints are sitting right there in view. The man standing in front of me at Walgreens looks at the seven purchased items on the counter and attempts to gather them all in his hands at once without success. She stares at him, challenging him to say yes and risk rebuke, making no motion towards handing him the bag. After several awkward attempts he answers meekly, “well, it’s just that with this many items, I don’t think I can carry them, and anyway I will use the bag for recycling newspaper.” The smug clerk quickly one-ups him with “I use my bags for compost!”
San Francisco is at the forefront of the green movement, having recently put a ban on city purchases of bottled water and legislated restrictions on the use of supermarket bags and non-recyclable restaurant to-go containers. It works, this atmosphere of self-righteousness and greener-than-thou one-upmanship. I admit it – I like the feeling of riding the high horse when I remember to bring my old brown bags to shop, or even better, my canvas bag, and I’m ashamed of what the lunch mothers will think when I resort to zip lock baggies because I can’t find the top to the Tupperware. That’s why I wish I could let everyone know that my spices – my organic spices! – arrive in Smith and Truslow’s Kraft boxes that are made with recycled papers and that I re-use the glass jars when the spice re-fills arrive through their Fresh and Flavorful plan..
So top that, Walgreen’s clerk!