Vicki Wentz: Problems getting lighter than air

May. 25, 2013 @ 03:32 PM

I’m sure my readers have noticed that I’m totally up for wading into the serious issues. I call ’em as I see ’em, no holds barred, tackling the tough questions and usually coming up with brilliant solutions. However, the issue with which I must deal today is pushing me perilously close to the edge, as I’ve just returned from a trip to Food Lion. That topic, my friends, is plastic grocery bags.
I can hear a collective sigh of relief out there, at the realization that someone will finally address this scourge on society. For, as with most scourge-type ... uh ... things ... it must be vanquished!
The idea seemed clever years ago: lightweight, plastic bags with handles. Hmmm … they hold a good bit, but not enough to make them impossible to lift, the handles are why-didn’t-someone-figure-this-out-years-ago great, they won’t take up space in your trash can like crumpled paper bags do … fabulous. What’s the problem?
Here’s my theory: Someone at Plastic Bags R Us wasn’t feeling fulfilled or appreciated in his work. No one was patting him on the back. He knew that plastic-bag-making wasn’t a profession that would “make a difference,” not like his brother-in-law’s career over at UPS, which his wife reminds him of every chance she gets.
So, to spice up his life, and also because he’s somewhat passive-aggressive, one day he pushes button X instead of button Y, and the next plastic bag that comes out of the chute is suddenly lighter than air, and tending not only to break if items are actually placed inside, but also inclined to adhere to itself and every other surface on the planet.
And, not immediately aware of what his private rebellion had wrought, our guy kept pushing the wrong button for several months, until perhaps button Y became corroded from disuse and was no longer functional.
Then, he comes home one night to his wife, who just went grocering and is flailing around the kitchen wild-eyed, in some sort of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” flashback, screeching at him to get these &$^!#* bags off her! She has one stuck to her arm, one on each leg, and one sticking to her hair.
Her husband thinks this is kinda funny, mostly because he never does the grocering, and he laughs at his wife – which earns him copious tears, dinner at a fancy restaurant and a chick movie – but he realizes what he has done, and is helpless to change it. This is how the bags come out now, and that’s that.
Meanwhile, we who go to our grocery stores so much that check-out folks know us by name – we suffer. We choose plastic bags because we can’t carry a filled, 200-pound paper bag into the house, and the bagger puts less into a plastic bag. (In fact, sometimes you can buy three things, and come home with three bags! This is extremely annoying. I do not need my ice-cream in one bag, my Slim Fast in a second and my Chianti in yet another. And, there is just something unnatural about being able to carry eight bags of groceries in one hand. I’m just saying.)
Last week, I returned from Kroger, bring the groceries in, and begin peeling bags off the items to which they’re stuck. I free one bag, lightly tossing it toward the open wastebasket. Please. I can actually hear it snicker. It refuses to leave my fingertips. I shake my hand, pull it away with the other hand. Now it’s sticking to that hand. I begin muttering vicious threats at it, finally screaming, “Get off me!” It drifts away – and sticks to my jeans.
This goes on so long, and so repeatedly, bag after bag, that at one point the kitchen looks like the inside of the space shuttle, with bags floating through the air, completely unaffected by gravity. By now, the ice cream has melted, and I am savagely pawing through the items piled on the counter, looking for the Aleve.
Then, the doorbell rings. It’s a couple who’ve noticed the “for sale” sign in front of our house, and would like to see it. As I smilingly show them around - well, everywhere but the kitchen, I mumble, because ... um ... it’s a crime scene – the man keeps staring at me suspiciously, although the woman seems kind and somehow sympathetic. Once, I even notice him murmuring something to her, and she inconspicuously elbows him in the ribs.
My son has joined me at the door as they wave good-bye, promising to call soon. He stands there eating his sandwich for a moment, then plucks a plastic grocery bag off the back of my head and hands it to me with a long-suffering roll of his eyes. “I wouldn’t count on it, Mom.”
Vicki Wentz is a local writer, teacher and speaker. Readers may contact her at, or visit her website,