But then I moved back to Virginia in 1997 and when I tried to use my re-usable grocery bags at a grocery store, the employees acted as if I had asked them to ride a unicycle while wearing a chicken suit. They were perplexed by the idea that I might not want to use their plastic bags. Some of them were utterly confused by the bags I had brought in with me. I had one cashier tell me that she didn't know how to use "those other bags." She seemed offended when I suggested that she just open one up and put my groceries in it. Thankfully enough people use reusable bags now that cashiers no longer seem put off by the idea of not using their store's plastic bags.
However, I ran across a new situation at the grocery store yesterday. The cashier was young, tall, and skinny as only as a geeky man in his early 20s can be. He looked at the pile of reusable bags I put in front of him as if he didn't trust them. As he hung up my bags by their straps to start filling them, he commented that some of them were "awfully weird." I asked him what he meant by that, and he gestured to the one of the smaller bags and pointed out that the straps were almost as long as the bag and they didn't fit on the rotating plastic bag dispensers very well. I suggested that he just use the smaller bags for smaller items. He shrugged and asked "Where'd ja get these weird bags anyways?" I politely told him that I'd been using my own reusable bags for a long time and that none of the stores sold their own reusable bags back then, so of course none of my bags were the same size, shape, material, or color. He mulled that idea over for a minute before asking me, "Have you ever watched old reruns where they're in a grocery store and the cashier just puts the groceries in a *paper* bag? Man, that's like ancient history or something."
I wanted to tell the guy that I remember when the cashiers would even take your bags out to your car for you, but I was afraid the concept would be more than his little brain could handle, so I just paid for my items and left. Well, fled is more like it.