All of us have idols like Tom Brady, Taylor Swift and Engelbert Humperdinck. My idol is a 23-year-old University of Akron accounting student, who has skills I could only dream of having. They are skills that could save my marriage — and I don’t mean the ability to balance a checkbook, although that would be helpful. I mean the ability to bag groceries, which is the Number 2 cause of domestic disputes in America after the Visa statement.
Brady Long recently won $10,000 for taking first place in the national Best Bagger competition in Las Vegas. Brady, who has worked at Buehler’s Fresh Foods in Medina, Ohio, for five years was named the nation’s top grocery bagger after competing against 22 finalists in a competition sponsored by the National Grocers Association. To select the winner, judges considered speed, proper bag-building technique, weight distribution and style.
Reading about Brady reminded me of the time we were leaving Trader Joe’s after I did the bagging, and the paper handles tore off the bags my wife was carrying, and iced tea, apples and oranges went rolling around the parking lot just as a BMW Series 6 Gran Coupe was barreling toward us. (I hate to “double-bag.” I prefer to live dangerously.)
My wife and I sometimes quarrel about this at the checkout while I’m reading the supermarket tabloids to find out whether Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie will get back together, or I’m thumbing through the candy selection or checking the horoscope to see where I should invest my retirement savings.
Sandy gets very tense when there’s no bagger, because she’s convinced I’ll mess it up and not follow her rules:
- Cold stuff goes with cold stuff
- No cleaning products with the produce
- Big stuff on the bottom, little stuff on the top
- Never put the eggs on the bottom
- Don’t make the bags too heavy
- And double-bag, double-bag, double-bag
Why does everything have to be so regimented? Like most men, I tend to put too many groceries in a bag, so we have little dramas like this in the supermarket:
Her: “There’s too much in that bag.”
Me: “It’s OK. I’ll carry it.”
Her: “It’s going to break!”
Me: “I have it under control!”
The Bag: Rrrrrrriiip!
Then, she has this annoying habit of putting only two or three items in those flimsy plastic bags and tying them so the groceries won’t spill out on the way home. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to untie them when she uses square knots? Sometimes I need to cut them open with a knife.
This is something we should have discussed while we were engaged, along with the usual topics like “Do you want to have kids?” Back then, she should have been forthright and asked me, “What’s your personal philosophy about bagging groceries?” I’m sure if I told her, “I love to stuff as many heavy groceries as possible into a bag until it’s overflowing,” she would have promptly responded, “Thank you for your candor — the engagement is off.”
Differences of opinion like this can destroy a relationship. (I won’t even get into political differences.) One spouse doesn’t like the way the other spouse does something, and before you know it, all hell breaks loose and someone is calling a divorce lawyer on the grounds of “cruel and unusual grocery bagging” or going to an online dating service for adulterers where they ask personal questions like, “How important is sex to you?” And “Should the frozen foods be bagged with the baked goods?”
Much of this turmoil could be eliminated if they made stronger bags and if there were more baggers with Brady’s skills. It would bring jobs back to America and give young people and seniors a chance to earn a few extra bucks so they could go to the casino on weekends.
Right about now, Brady is pretty proud of himself because he won a national competition, but the luster fades and there’s always someone nipping at your heels.
Brady, ole boy, you won the top award, but there’s no guarantee you’ll be the big bag man next year, so stay humble and stay sharp. And watch your back because I’ve been training. I’m a regular Rocky Balboa and I’m coming after you, Champ.
I asked my wife to help me train, but she said something I can’t repeat in a family newspaper. Nevertheless, I intend to make that little lady proud by winning that $10,000 so I can afford my own personal bagger … who will be required by contract to always double-bag.
Contact Joe Pisani at email@example.com.