As I strolled around the market picking out root veggies and the last of the summer tomatoes (and a few green ones for frying), I began to notice that everyone else had their Whole Foods and Trader Joe's bags slung over their shoulders. There was even a token bag from The Strand. What can I say, I live in a hipster neighborhood. And there I was, conspicuously without one. What had started out as a jolly shopping trip turned into a covert operation as I skulked around the stalls trying not to be noticed. But the real trouble began when I got in line to pay.
I stood there behind all the bag people, trying to pretend I was engrossed in the items in my basket. When that didn't work (I swear, I could hear the hipsters behind me snickering), I craned my neck as if I were looking for my companion who was nowhere to be found (s/he had probably made off with my reusable bag). No luck. The hipsters weren't falling for my act. Nobody pointed, but I felt their stares and judgement.
When I got up to the table to pay, the woman who was weighing my vegetables looked expectantly at me. I looked behind me to see if I might see the imaginary companion who had absconded with my bag. But alas, nobody appeared. "Do you need a bag?" she whispered, looking disappointedly at me (it was the farmers' market equivalent of "Your card's been declined."). It was like she didn't want to get stuck ringing up such an environmentally irresponsible ogre. "Yes, I must've forgotten my bag today," I replied, praying for her mercy. "They're ten cents," she said, unforgivingly (a five cent markup from the usual five cents the grocery stores charge). "I don't have a car! My carbon footprint is very small," I wanted to scream, but instead I paid my pennance and slunk off amist the disgusted stares of the more thoughtful shoppers, surprised that they didn't pelt me with organically grown rootabegas as I made my retreat.
|Photo courtesy of velkr0 via Flickr|
And as I walked back past the line of shoppers waiting to pay on my way home, I spied one other bagless customer. A guy about my age who looked just as sheepish as I had felt. We gave each other that knowing look . . . the look of someone disgraced, someone ashamed, the look of a pariah. I can't be sure, but I think he stood a little taller after seeing me, encouraged by my fearless plastic-bag-carrying confidence. I left knowing that perhaps I hadn't left the world a little greener than I had found it today, but at least I made another person feel good. And I swung my plastic bag full of goodies all the way home.