In a world share with billions of other people it is easy to forget personal responsibility I hold.
Since the summer before my junior year of high school I’ve returned to work at my local grocery store, a Hannaford supermarket.
At the age of 16, I was hired as a service clerk more commonly known as a bagger. My job entailed placing customers’ groceries into plastic bags and pushing shopping carriages back into the store.
But to become a Hannaford service clerk there’s more than just getting hired. I had to complete about a half dozen hours of interactive CD-ROMs that taught me all about the techne of bagging. I learned to make bags full, yet keep them balanced. I learned to put cans on the bottom and bread on the top.
I also learned how proper bagging skills made customers happy, and how proper bagging would save the company’s money. I learned that if each bagger used one fewer bag on each customer it would save the company millions. While listing the financial benefits of fewer bags, it was also able mentioned that it was beneficial to the environment.
After graduating from Hannaford’s service clerk school, things began to change. I remember when I first started bagging at an actual register, probably the first piece of advice a cashier gave me was that it is faster to put fewer items in each bag. He was right—this made my job easier and I only used a couple of more bags for each order.
A summer later I became a cashier. By this point I had seen a few campaigns by Hannaford to get baggers to use fewer bags so our store could meet its bagging goals. One campaign put tags on each stand reminding baggers “8 OR MORE ITEMS!!!” Another one actually threatened random bag checks by our managers, although I never saw one. To me it all seemed like a cheap way for Hannaford to save a buck—if I used two or even three extra bags for a $200 order the cost was negligible to Hannaford.
Well it wasn’t until this past summer that I realized I had been missing something huge. I started noticing a lot more people bringing their own reusable cloth bags. In the past these people used to annoy me because their bags never stayed open and the bigger bags took more time and thoughtful use of the bagging techne, heavy on the bottom, light on top.
For five years, I let what I thought was just corporate greed cover something important. Whether it was all financially driven on Hannaford’s part it didn’t matter. There was a personal level where I could have been saving thousands of bags. These customers who brought their own bags back and forth to the store we individuals who cared. But why? They are only one person, right?
Those words three world stuck, “Only one person.” If they’re only one person than what does that make me?
If I use the reasoning that I’m only one person as grounds for my actions, nothing I would do would have any meaning. Doing something right or wrong or indifferent—it would all be meaningless.
So I believe it is wrong for me to say or think “I am just one person.” I can’t control the actions other people, but I can control mine and therefore I should make every effort to do what’s right.