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Wrapped in Plastic

Updated: Mar 21, 2022

I've been trying to reduce the amount of plastic in my life recently. I know I'm not alone in this endeavor, but I feel like it sometimes. Fortunately for everyone who seems determined to stifle my efforts, there are a couple more who actually work to make it easier. The guy behind the bar at the Cape Charles Coffee House is a fairly steady presence in my days. His name is Marshall, and though is prone to a good rant from time to time (Dude, where's your blog?) he also remembers the little things that make his customers' lives easier. I mentioned the plastic mission off-hand a few weeks ago while asking for something to stir my coffee with. Now he keeps a spoon in a mug near the cup of plastic stirrers. I don't even have to ask. It's just there. He doesn't even mind if I walk out with my mug every once in a while. He knows it's coming back tomorrow. My check out lady at the Food Lion today however is a different story. Nice woman, but she just didn't seem to get it. This morning I had noticed the re-usable grocery bags in the pantry and thought "I should throw a couple of those in my truck". Of course that thought vacated my mind as quickly as it had fluttered into it, and I went on about my day. On my way home, Sara called to ask if I could re-stock our Cabernet cache. The "fancy Food Lion" up the road actually has a decent wine selection so I made a quick pit stop on my way home from our new shop in Quinby. Approaching the check out lane with my arms full of California's finest, I noticed the strategically placed pile of re-usable bags sitting on the counter. Perfect. I threw one onto my pile of bottles and promptly lost myself in the tabloid trash headlines next to the candy display. I looked up to notice the very nice woman behind the counter was placing my new grocery bag into its very own plastic grocery bag. I politely asked her if I could go ahead and use it now. "Of course" she replied and then promptly placed the first of the wine bottles into a plastic bag and then into my new bag. "The point was to avoid the plastic all together if I can please Ma'am." "If I don't put these bottles in plastic, they gonna break." "I'll be careful, I promise. I just really don't want to plastic." "Whatever." Now, I know better than to expect world class customer service at a chain grocery store in a town of 400 people. What bugs me is knowing that tomorrow I could repeat the same scenario with the same nice check out lady. And the next day, and the next day. It adds a further level of frustration to recognize that she is actually trying to help me. She's not trying to ruin my day. She wants to make sure that I don't end up sloshing around in a truck full of California Cabernet. She truly believes in the shock absorbing powers of nanometer thick plastic bags. This is actually better than average customer service. Unfortunately the customer is evolving ahead of the service or the store itself. One of the things that I love about living on the Eastern Shore is that in many ways we are 20-3o years behind the rest of the country. It's not exactly a third world country out here, but it's one of those places that is going to be caught by surprise next month when all of our rabbit ears stop working. Another aspect of Shore living that drew me here is the fact that every life on this peninsula is in some way connected to the water. There are several of my friends who I'll agree to meet somewhere based on the tide clock rather than the time clock. Given the amount of salt water running through our collective veins, you would think that we would be ahead of the curve on this whole Green Revolution. And we are if you think about it... Who else had re-usable grocery bags at the counter in 1984?


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