Bagger Breaking Point

I hit my breaking point today. The stress from my job situation, Stef’s job situation, and my world at large all came crashing in on me today and I went a little bit nuts. My neighbors are probably washing their young childrens’ ears out with soap right now after the profanity laced diatribe I spewed at my groceries this afternoon. They are wondering what kind of man yells at a door for not opening right for him. They are wondering what straw broke this asshole’s back. You might be wondering too. Well sit tight kiddies. I’m gonna tell you.

Stef and I had an eleven o’clock meeting with our financial analyst this morning. We got up around 8:30 AM to tidy up. There was a chill between us and I expected nothing less after the tension of yesterday. We moved about our chores mostly in silence, trying to stay out of each other’s way, only stopping for a few minutes to disagree on the validity of Denzel Washington as an actor as we checked out a special on him that E! was playing.

The meeting with our analyst went well and from it came generally good news. Stef wanted to get a lot done today though and as soon as the meeting was over she was getting our laundry together so we could trek down to the laundramat. I usually do the groceries while she does the laundry so I put together a shopping list. We hopped in the car and we went.

There was a bit of arguing in the car about whether or not to have lunch and where we were going to go to do all of these chores. I am used a certain pattern we have. I assumed we would be following that pattern. Stef had originally had other ideas. We went back and forth and eventually decided on sticking to our normal routine.

I got back into the car after dropping her at the laundramat and headed over towards the grocery store. I was pissed at her. I was at the point where I could have stood to go a week, a month, maybe even a few months without seeing her again. That’s how bad it was. I was walking into that supermarket already in a volatile mood and supermarkets are generally stressful places for me anyway so you can imagine how little it was going to take to light my fuse.

I worked at a supermarket for three years and it wasn’t a glamorous job, but I took pride in my work. I had to. There were dozens of others waiting in the wings to take my position if I didn’t do a good job. They didn’t give us much slack. We were expected to perform. On my first day as a bagger they stuck me on the register of the fastest cashier in the store and then scrutinized every mistake I made.

Within a few months I was getting at least one customer service recognition card a day. I was employee of the month at least once. I was prized asset.

Today when I go to the grocery store I see kids who don’t give a fuck about their job. They goof off. They talk to their friends while stuffing your cleaning fluids into the same bag with your bread. They don’t care. That makes me so fucking angry I can’t even begin to describe it to you.

So a few months ago I started making the job easier for them. I very methodically set the cold items on the conveyor belt first, then the boxed items, then the bottles of soda and water, then the breads, and finally any cleaning or household products. Going simply off of the fact that they seemed to put whatever came their way into the bags in the order in which it came, this seemed like a good idea. And for most baggers this works just fine.

The woman I was saddled with today couldn’t bag if her life depended on it, if God Himself came down and told her to bag the order correctly or else he was going to chop off her left tit. She overloaded some bags to the point where they were ripping as I put them into my car, and she stuffed only one item in others. She put a bottle of Pine-Sol in the same bag with my chicken, and a jug of dishwashing detergent in a bag with my bagels.

I bitched and complained in the parking lot and I turned up the car stereo as loud as it would go as I pulled out, blasting Rob Zombie’s latest single, scaring little old ladies as I peeled out onto the road.

When I reached our apartment complex I struggled to get the doors open with my hands completely full and I swore at one of the doors so loud and slammed it open so hard that a woman on the second floor came down to see if I was alright. I apologized because I knew she had kids in her apartment and I had forgotten to curb my language and I felt bad and then I made my way up to the third floor, where we live.

Halfway down the hall the first bag split open at the bottom. A little bit further down another one split. Then a six-pack of Fruit2O started splitting apart. I angrily unlocked my apartment door and threw the bags of groceries in, denting a can of spaghetti sauce on the leg of our end tables, and cracking open two yogurts with the impact. I slammed the door shut and brought the rest of the groceries up.

When everything was upstairs I threw the latest Nine Inch Nails disc into my CD player, turned it up as loud as it could go, and bolted and locked my door. As I put the groceries away and washed off those that had been soaked in the crushed yogurts, I tore apart the plastic bags so as to further emphasize the point for Stephanie when she got home. I ended up tossing them all out when I finished putting away the groceries.

I sat and listened to a couple more songs before I went back to the laundramat to pick up Stef. The phone rang and I let the voicemail get it.

After we got back and put the laundry away Stef and I sat at the dining room table and talked a little about our financial analysis from earlier. She knew that something was wrong and asked me what was up. I finally, carefully, spilled the beans. I told her, “I’ve reached my breaking point. I can’t handle the stress you bring home alongside the stress I create for myself during the day.”

We talked a little about it, ate some late lunch, and then went out to dinner with Monica. Things were a bit better with it finally off of my chest.

So, I reached my breaking point today, and as you can see, when I reach my breaking point I am not a fun person to be around. Thankfully, I only seem to allow myself to reach that point when no one else is around and the only things I can harm are myself and inanimate objects. I may make a lot of noise. I may ruin your children’s virgin ears. But I’ve never thrown a punch at someone.

At least that’s good, right?