As the husband and I went out this evening to hunt and gather dinner, we hit the one intersection on our way to the shopping centre – the biggest one in Ireland, just so’s you know.
When you approach it, coming down this curving hill, you see the people. There’s always people coming from there. Either from the shopping centre or the train stop. But there they are. Grannies with carts, moms with baby buggies, young guys in slouchy hats, girls in shorts and tights and huge sweaters. With bags and backpacks and carrying items.
Really, everyone looks like a shoplifter it seems, especially if they’ve been grocery shopping. Mums have baby buggies with cartons of juice and packages of chicken and salad in the buggy. Guys walk out of the store with a case of beer and a bag of chips stacked on it. Once, a woman came into the pub with a loaf of bread she bought on the way over, to make sure she had some for her kids lunches the next day, sat the loaf of bread on the table, ordered a glass of wine.
See, in Ireland, they don’t do plastic shopping bags. You bring your own bag to the grocery store, or they’ll charge you for one. We had to get used to bringing grocery bags. Luckily, we knew this before coming, so half my bags say “Whole Foods” or “Target” on them. It’s also something we’ve warned other Americans moving here to make sure they bring if they already have them.
But there are times you decide to grab something at the store and you realize you have no bag. So you just carry it out in your arms. Again, I refer you to the shoplifter look. Because it is a bit weird to see someone with a package of chicken in hand, bottle of shampoo tucked under the other arm. And a little strange to see someone stuff groceries into a backpack, or into their big shoulder bag.
Now though? We’ve been here long enough that we’ve walked out of the store a few times balancing a package of meat on top of the big box of Cheerios. Oh sure, it’s only about 40 cents to buy a bag….but why waste the money when you have two perfectly good arms?
All that said – I still got a giggle when I watched a couple with a baby in the stroller and a young child skipping next to them walk by and saw the mom carrying a hula hoop over one arm. Even here, you don’t see that every day.