Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last day of the year!

Oooh hooray, the gloom has lifted. Just in time for the New Year.
New Decade technically starts 2011, doesn't it? Yes. New Year is good enough, anyway.
Apologies to anyone I've insulted in the last few days and haven't apologised to yet.

I went to the Tate Modern yesterday just to get out of the house, and to get some writing done. There were children rolling about and a number of strangers sharing my table - it seemed like every time I looked up there was someone else sitting with me. Some of them were glowing with art experience and tea appreciation, some looked very annoyed about having to share a table. The presence of noisy children actually helped since I was writing the showdown of an adventurous children's book. I think I've pretty much written it now, I imagined the illustrations and it looks right in my head.
On my way back I had a strange argument at a checkout - I tried to refuse a plastic bag to carry a bag of crisps in. "I can carry it in my hand, that's what hands are for, that sort of thing anyway," I said. "But it's cold out there," said the checkout man cryptically, bagging up my bag of crisps. "Never mind, I'll take the train," I replied unbagging it and wondering what I meant by that. Anyway, success. No bag.


curiouscrow said...

How many surreal conversations like that I've had when I try to refuse a bag I don't know.

Anyway, thank you for making me laugh so much in 2009 - Happy New Year!

Viviane Schwarz said...

Hooray! Happy new year to you, too!

My favourite weird conversation when refusing a bag:
me: "Thanks, I can just carry this in my hand."
checkout lady: "No! Not with that face! No!"
(bags up dustpan and brush while I'm still baffled, I lose)

Candice Hartsough McDonald said...

wow, that is so weird! i've never had someone make a comment, but usually i can tell that it's somehow more of a hassle for them to just hand it to me? also, although a lot of businesses around here are selling reusable grocery bags, those same businesses do not make it easy to use them. half my stuff ends up in plastic bags before i realize what is happening.

Viviane Schwarz said...

It's definitely a skill, learning to pack your own bag so fast that it doesn't make the checkout personnel want to do it for you. I've not got it down 100% as yet... but shops where speed is an issue tend to be the easier ones for bag-refusal, I find.

The most fussy ones are shops with bags that are seen as somewhat covetable, and they treat it as if I were missing out on part of the shopping experience. I think they just want people walking around London with their bags. Trying to avoid taking a comics store bag or one from a clothes store is really hard. For a while I collected cool plastic bags to make a raincoat from them eventually, but it never happened (the material just isn't that great).

Sometimes they are just trying to stop me from ruining my bag with the shopping, or the shopping with my bag (it's usually my nice big old red bowling bag).

Ever so often, however, I think it's a cultural thing - it seems improper to some people to go about carrying random things in ones hands, maybe because it's reminiscent of dementia or something, and they mean well offering the carrier bag. - Personally, I enjoy people carrying random objects, me. It must be a bit confusing for the security guards at the door, admittedly.

Viviane Schwarz said...

Something that made me very happy when I lived in Germany was the year when a law was passed that shops must have facilities to take back secondary packaging (anything that's not directly protecting your goods) and lots of customers started unwrapping their stuff at the check-out, leaving big piles of cardboard and plastic. It forced the supermarkets to react pretty swiftly.

I'm trying to avoid over-packaged goods, it's pretty hard. I wish they'd stop putting individual vegetables in hard plastic cases. And I wish they'd get a system for refilling containers in place. That's another thing that works in Germany - you return your glass bottles, they wash and refill them. Easier in a country where everyone drives to the shops, I guess... which is bad, also. - Sigh.

Fr√łydis said...

I always ask all my customers "Do you need a bag?" instead of "Do you want a bag?" sometimes that makes them think about it and say no, otherwise they'll just say yes and I have to give them one. It's incredible how many people out there actually think they need another plastic bag when they've already got four others.

Viviane Schwarz said...

Hey, that's a good approach! and your shop probably has nice bags, too...