Stupidity, Recycling and the Giving of Impromptu Lectures

You may be strolling toward your car in a parking lot and suddenly get one of these from a passerby. Or perhaps you’re sitting in a movie theater, patiently awaiting the start of the film while munching on a bucket of buttery popcorn, and you’ll be subjected to this by another moviegoer. I refer to lectures. The unplanned, uncivilized kind. Not the ones given in museums, universities, bookstores or the type engaged in by doting parents and friends, but the variety offered up by stupers (short for avowedly stupid persons). They give lectures when lectures are totally unnecessary.

I innocently stood in line at the grocery store. Beads of perspiration began to form on my forehead. Not because the winter temperature soared. I wasn’t in the middle of panting from jumping jacks or rigorous sit-ups, but I did overhear this heated exchange between the cashier and a customer:

Cashier (sweetly): Where are your reusable shopping bags?

Customer: Oh, I left them at home today.

Cashier freezes mid scanner: You WHAT? Don’t you know how many trees you’ll be singlehandedly murdering?

And so continued a lengthy, finger pointing argument between the two. The customer, at first, took the pontificating cashier for a joker. But she soon proved otherwise as her pulpit emerged beneath her sneakered feet.

I believe in recycling. I do. I bring reusable bags whenever shopping, but alas, on this occasion, I was returning home from a short trip and left mine at home. Hence, the glistening beads of sweat and the missing halo over my head. I felt like a felony suspect sitting beneath a 10,000 watt, naked light bulb, soon to be interrogated by ominous figures sporting crew cuts and bulging, bloodshot eyes.

Customer #1 stormed out and Cashier continued the pointed line of questioning with Customer #2 who’d also egregiously neglected to bring his bags. This conversation heated up faster than microwave popcorn:

Customer #2 (angrily): Does the store know you’re harassing shoppers?

Cashier: Do YOU know you have a serious problem? You have a responsibility…

I was harboring genuine concerns about moving forward. I know. My dear readers are asking, “Why didn’t Keli go to a different line hosted by a peace-loving, Buddhist monk style cashier (this is a health food market) instead of one manned by a tree activist, so bent on pushing her agenda, she was about to split in two asymmetrical pieces?” I was determined to stay the course. I am not one to easily give up on stupidity. Besides, the other lines were longer.

When my turn came, I didn’t allow her to speak. I did all of the talking.

Me: I’m so sorry I forgot my bags today. I really do regret it. I’m returning home from a trip, and it’s just not the same being in here without them. I had such a nice time…

Cashier: No problem..

Me: When I get home, I’ll keep a large stash in my car, not only for myself, but perhaps, for other forgetful shoppers…

She nodded in wholehearted agreement.

Of course, by the time I reached the poor, misguided woman, she was exhausted by the three disgruntled customers before me. My timing was quite good.

The cashier suffered from the misguided sense of superiority only a stuper could have. Her grievance was not necessarily illegitimate. But she lacked the knowledge that such dialogue should be saved for a public forum.

Stay aware so you can stay on top of stupidity.

Thinking is an asset.


~ As far as I’m concerned, I prefer silent vice to ostentatious virtue ~ Albert Einstein

8 Responses to “Stupidity, Recycling and the Giving of Impromptu Lectures”

  1. Julianne says:

    I’m suspicious of anyone who uses the words “murder” and “trees” in the same sentence. Kudos to you for averting the lecture yourself.

  2. MC says:

    Believe it or not, I got a lecture like this by a lady at an amusement park. She talked about who should be first in line. (She was mad because she wasn’t first). Anyway, now I see it was a case of the lecturing stuper.

  3. Suzie says:

    This is funny, maybe not to the cashier. I almost always try to have my own bags. Sometimes I forget and leave them in the car, but before they say anything I run to my car and bring my bags in, and of course apologize to the cashier. All this to avoid a stuper cashier.

  4. Elaine says:

    I too take my own bags though when I’m out and about running errands and stop on the way home for one quick item – I don’t have a bag. I should keep a spare or two in the car. However,I think it’s totally out of line for a cashier to chastise me or anyone else for not having one. Her behavior wouldn’t fly where I live. Michigan is probably not as green as the west coast. Guessing you know that from the cars they produce eh? 😉 and they wonder why people aren’t buying them.

    Sorry to go off topic.

  5. Michelle says:

    I usually get just the opposite response. Not so much from the cashier, but the bagger. Well, since often it’s the same person, I get the eye-roll from the cashier when I pull the compact set of five bags out of my purse! The prima donna baggers can’t be bothered to do anything different. My bags even fit right on their bagging rack (for a look at ’em see ). So they’re no trouble for the baggers, but they’re different and unwelcome.

    What I conclude is that there’s no winning. You don’t show up with your bags, you get a lecture. You do have your bags and you get (at minimum) the eye-roll and, this has happened to me, a bagger that just ignores your bags and puts everything into plastic bags! Talk about beads of perspiration!

  6. Sarah says:

    Something like this happened to me. I forgot my bag once and I got a gently scolding from a cashier who’s normally really nice at my local health food market. The second time, I was actually given a lecture. I understand the importance of recycling, but come on… forgetting the bags a few times does not make me a criminal! Stupers!

  7. Keli says:

    Thanks! I’m just glad she was worn out by the time I reached her.
    Nobody likes to be lectured, especially by people they barely know!
    The things we do to avoid stupidity!
    You’re right. Add to that that it was a health food market and you get the whole picture.
    My goodness! Damned if you do and damned if you don’t, eh? I usually end up doing my own bagging (if you’re thinking control freak, you may be on the right track).
    Is there a law against forgetting bags that none of us seem to be aware of? Must be something in the stuper world…

  8. Onedia says:

    Wow, I don’t know where to start. I have a huge stash of reusable bags including one from home depot, Powell’s books, and even Trader Joes. We put them by the door when emptied and return them to the car they came from so we have them.

    I even refuse bags at the liquor store and just carry the bottles or carton to the car and add to my bags.

    Sometimes I forget to put them back in the car. Sometimes I even forget to take them into the store when they are in the car and remember it just at the check out. However, if I do take a plastic bag home, I save it and return it to the store recycle bin.

    I do have people who grimace when they see the reusable but since most stores (even here in tinyville and surroundings) are selling the reusable bags so they can hardly complain.

    However, if I had seen that sort of harangue I think I would have gone to the service desk and complained about that stuper … Did she also complain about the choice made by the customer. If she had done that to me I would have said fine and simply left the store. I do not suffer stupers and would not feel compelled to explain my choices or forgetfullness to them.

    You are more tolerant than I .


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