Excess Baggage

I’m telling you, it’s culture shock all over again.

I’ve only been back in California two days and already I’m pining away for Italy. No, it’s nothing romantic—it’s about bagging groceries.

You see, in Italy, when you go to a supermarket and load your stuff onto the moving belt, the scanner babe goes and scans things just like they do in the US. Ok, I shouldn’t have said “scanner babe.” How sexist. Better to call her “the checker.”

Then the “checker” pushes everything down into one or two holding areas, where you—yes, you the consumer—bag it yourself.

And you better have your own bag, or they’ll charge you.

Why do I like these subservient acts of baggage? Well, for one thing I don’t have to yell at the bagger-boy for using 17 bags when I’ve only bought 15 items. No, the triple-plastic-wrapped soap that I will need a chain saw to open is not likely to poison the chicken. Well, not in my lifetime anyway.

Of course, the chicken is also poison and needs its own bag. But it’s a different kind of poison. So the bagger boy puts the chicken in a bag into another bag. Sure, chickens in the US have the toxicity of nuclear waste thanks to the government’s idea that regulating chicken processing is purest economic evil, but even two bags are unlikely to ward off the health problems we imagine we’re saving ourselves from, right? “Yes,” sayeth the government gleefully, “cook your 3 pound bird for 7 hours in a 450 degree oven, then remove and use for a doorstop—and you will have no health problems at all from your standard-issue industrial chicken.”

Anyway, I like just throwing everything in a big, old sack and walking away knowing that I’ve saved landfills from the scourge of excess baggage. And I’ve just come back from Naples and Campania, so I’m, you know, sensitive about that sorta thing.

But really, the thing is—I just hate having to carry those 15 bags to the car. It looks goofy. The figura isn’t bella, if you catch my drift.


Excess Baggage originally appeared on WanderingItaly.com , updated: Aug 21, 2015 © .


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