I’ve just come back from buying stuff at one of those all-purpose pharmacies and markets. I sauntered up to the counter and put my stuff down. The 20something checkout guy said “hey” and I muttered “how are ya?” and then…

Checkout guy: Would you like a bag?
Me: Yes. (Quizzical expression, slight smile.) I mean…well, have you ever met anyone buying two or more items who doesn’t want a bag?
Checkout guy: Well, some people bring their own.
Me: Uh-huh. You’re talking in code then. What you’re asking is “do I want to buy a bag?”
Checkout guy: Right.
Me: Okay. (Pause.) I’m guessing a dinky plastic bag is worth nothing, maybe a tenth of a penny but you guys charge…what, a dime?
Checkout guy: Five cents.
Me: Local governments are charging stores a tax for plastic bags for pollution reasons so the stores are passing the cost along. I get it. Back in West Hollywood I bought two large cloth bags for grocery shopping. But I almost never take them with me because I tend to drop into Gelson’s or Pavillions on impulse so I wind up paying for paper bags almost every time. Stores have been providing free bags for decades, over a century. No more.