Don’t worry, I am fully aware that you’re probably thinking “grocery bags, Emily? Scraping the bottom of the barrel much?” Promise it’s not quite as boring as it sounds.
I actually find it kind of amazing that something as seemingly basic as a plastic supermarket bag could be the source of a cultural difference. Rodolfo and I don’t use reusable bags because we use plastic bags as both trash can liners and Lola poop picker-uppers, so we obviously get quite a few bags every time we go to the store. As such, I’ve learned that there is a distinctly Chilean way of presenting the customer with these bags, and my gringa self happens to find it distinctly wrong.
See, this is what I expect when I think of a plastic bag full of groceries:
Bag, filled with contents, with convenient plastic handles available for me to slide my hand right on in, allowing for easy picking up of said bag and contents. See how easy?
(Yes, I know that photo is awful, but managing to take a picture of my own hand while keeping the camera far enough away to include the bag was no small feat, and I only remembered right this second while writing this that Rodolfo bought one of those little travel tripods, but I don’t know where it is, and frankly this picture is not important enough for me to redo even if I did know where it was. Sorry.)
Chileans, however, do not seem to appreciate this ease of handle grabbing. They prefer to tie a knot in the handles, like so:
This, to me, defeats the entire purpose to having handles in the first place. Trying to wedge my hand into the holes which have now been pulled shut by the knot is a pain, so the only remotely efficient way to pick up the bag is by grabbing it in my fist. And if I wanted to grab it in my fist, then I wouldn’t need handles with holes for my hands, now would I?
Rodolfo insists that this way is good, but I’m not sure why. I think he’s just used to the fist-grabbing method, and in that case then yes, it’s great that you have this knot bringing the two handles together. But the fist grabbing method sucks. It is stupid, and I hate it, and I wish the nice checkout boys and girls – who only work for tips, they don’t get a salary, clearly the supermarket is rife with cultural differences – wouldn’t waste their time making knots that I undo as soon as I get out to the car.
I’m curious – other Chile expats, have you noticed this? Does it bother you, or have you converted to the dark side? Has anyone not in Chile ever seen this or another plastic bag method? I really don’t think it has to be this complicated, just put my stuff in the bag and call it a day, no knot tying required.