“I hate to tell you this,” the clerk says as she folds my new pants. “But I’m required to. By law. I have to charge you five cents for a bag. Would you still like a bag?” She raises her eyebrows in an ominous and foreboding way.
Our bag ban (see post) went into effect last month. Plastic grocery bags are outlawed and stores are required to charge a nickel for paper bags.
Bellyaching abounds. A woman buying groceries ahead of me in line, who looks like she probably has a few nickels to spare, commiserates with the checkout lady about the usurious bag fee. They roll their eyes, sigh and shake their heads.
One letter to the editor complains that cloth bags are bacteria laden. Isn’t everything bacteria laden? Never mind. Another letter writer wonders how he’ll line his trash can.
There are complaints about the five cents, it’s not the nickel, it’s the principle of the thing. It better be about principles, since nickels are worth so little we can barely afford to make them. What else can you even get for a nickel these days?
One man writes that from now on, he is going to shop in the neighboring town. So there.
I think people are secretly happy about the bag ban. It gives us something to talk about besides the weather. So much simpler and more accessible than crazy stuff like teacher layoffs and global warming. Here is the crux of the national debates in our own little town, something we can really wrap our tomatoes in.
Good work bag monsters.