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Ostomy Memories Death of the Bagboy


As if there were not enough other substantial reasons for hating Wal-Mart, there is this: they have killed the bagboy. This age old piece of Americana has been not so subtly replaced by a mechanical device, a carousel loaded with plastic bags (“Wal-Mart kites”) that turns ‘round in circles ad infinitum. The cashiers, relieved by advancements in check-out technology from having to actually punch in prices to a cash register, simply scan the bar codes and shove the items into the revolving plastic bags. There is no “Do you want paper or plastic?” At Wal-Mart it is all plastic.
I came of age in the Fifties working as a bagboy for Kwik Chek, owned by Winn-Dixie. My salary was 50¢ an hour plus tips, and tips in those halcyon days were good. I worked a forty hour week. It put me into a fine ’54 Ford with a spacious rear seat and a glass pack I installed on the exhaust system. In short, it purred.
Bagboys brought personality, humor, and a sense of humanity to the otherwise boring chore of grocery shopping. The thousands of Wal-Marts despoiling the land these days bring impersonality to a new height. So where do the boys go now that cannot be bagboys? They are in so-called fast food joints asking customers if they want fries with that. There is no fraternization with harried housewives as the cart full of groceries is pushed across the asphalt parking lot to the waiting car. There are no tips, no pockets choked with quarters and lesser coins. The art of squarely packing a brown paper bag with groceries in just the right way has gone sadly by the boards. For that, I mourn.

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Hi Henry,  Things have actually come full circle in some areas.  There are many progressive stores now that do not even have plastic bags anymore and your only option is paper (or your own bag).  It's not just the bagboy who has lost his job, many stores have reduced their cashiers in order to offer "self check-out".  I confess I don't mind either, as I do bring my own bags and I prefer to ring my own groceries through.  

A suggestion for a future topic; the loss of the gas station attendant who actually "attends" to you.  When is the last time you had your windows cleaned, your tire pressure checked or your oil checked?  I didn't notice the price of gas going down as they eliminated these services, did you?




Listen to you guys lamenting the past.  We all do it.  The one constant in the universe is change.  It's why we die and get replaced by an new generation.  Stuff gets stale, including us.  Both the demise of the bagboy and the service attendant are the product of the continual drive to make more profit.  Money really does drive the ENTIRE world.  Drill down far enough into any subject and you'll find things are the way they are because of money.  I was a bus boy in high school and I'd work that job after working at the glove company unloading truck containers during the afternoon.  The restaurant I bussed in was a higher scale fast food place, a Char-Broil establishment where you ordered at the counter.....and then yours truly would bring it out to your table after it was cooked specifically for you.  I don't remember any tips, but after we closed we'd all cook steaks, drink beer and wrestle in the lobby (everyone who worked there was on the high school football team) while the counter folks figures out THEIR tips, and usually gave me something.  Eventually folks found the current cheaper fast food places' food good enough.......and my restaurant faded into history, along with a lot of good memories of a different, simpler time.  Imagine if we could come back in another 100 years......I doubt we'd recognize the place........or really want to stay.  Enjoy it while you can.  



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