It was a long day of meetings and then having to travel back to London (Euston) on a three-hour train journey. Though tired, I was happy when we reached London and I was looking forward to pick up something from the M&S just at Euston station. The fact that it was crowded (as it was just around the afternoon rush-hour) proved slightly irritating. I was anticipating a well deserved meal! So after collecting my items and joining the queue at the checkout, I was in no mood for the question the young man at the till asked me. “What size bag will you need sir, for your purchases?” I was tired and I thought it was a foolish question, so out rolled my answer: “One in which the items will fit!” I was thinking: “why such a difficult or even philosophical question when I was so tired?” The person paying at the till next to me, who overheard my comment could not hold back her laughter, saying to me (as the tills are so closely squashed together:) “You know, for a long time I have been thinking what answer I can possible give to this question every time I shop here. And you have just provided it: it’s funny!”
I was thinking more than humour. I was aware why the question was asked; as M&S wants to give the impression that it is eco-conscious, as it will get people to use their own shopping bags or think about the environment when we use plastic bags. I do shop with my own bags! But I was just returning from a day of meetings and like many others at that time of the day one would rarely be expected to have a shopping bag with them. Besides, if I had asked for a large bag then I had to pay for it! I was not charged for the one I eventually got as I simply placed the ball back into the cashier’s court. He actually gave me a large bag without a cost (which by the way, I am reusing). In thinking more about the incident, I must say I am dubious of M&S eco intentionality in this specific location, as I can see them making lots of money just on their bags with the number of people rushing from work and doing a purchase!!!! Large or small, it is still plastic! They should go further and do less packaging of items that can be purchased as loose items! Perhaps, then our purchases will fit in the work-bags we are travelling with.
And since I am on the matter of shopping, allow me to share with you how challenging it is to find a good book to read: it is not as easy as one would expect., in spite of all the reviews around! Imagine the amount of forest used to produce the sheer number of books published these days! Just walking through one of the larger bookshops can make one become dazed by the choice. But look closer and you will notice that what is being stocked is nothing more that those popular titles that booksellers/publishers want us to read. I suppose one need to understand that publishers/bookshops are in the business of “selling books”. They are not too concerned about what I wish to read or what I consider a good read (in itself a subjective undertaking). Hype, of course, sells like hotcakes in our world of instant micro-celebrity and where everyone thinks they have a biography to write that is worth reading. And, while walking through Waterstones may give the impression that before me is an array of choices, what is nearer to the truth is that my choice may be very very limited. In the meantime there are still a number of timeless volumes on my shelf that I can reach for and re-read with great pleasure!