Thank me for bagging?

When I was growing up, I was used to (being an American) having cashiers bag groceries for me. I wait in line, wait for the cashier to scan my groceries, and then wait for the cashier to bag my groceries, and then pay for my groceries.

Then I studied a semester in England and found none of the grocery stores had cashiers who bagged groceries for customers (at least not on a regular basis—there were some exceptions). At first, I thought this was outrageous. I want customer service. I’m paying for these groceries. You bag them for me.

Now I don’t know if things are different in England now (it’s been a few years since the last time I was there), but recently I’ve been bagging my own groceries and the cashiers all thank me (“Thanks for bagging”). They always act surprised and a little relieved. The line moves faster. They have a little less stress, and it didn’t really take that much effort on my part.

Now, I guess, I have a little different perspective. Instead of feeling entitled to having people bag my groceries for me, I think it’s ridiculous when I see people stand around doing nothing while their groceries are being rung up and then standing around even longer while their groceries are being bagged. I always appreciate a good thank-you, naturally, but they are my groceries, after all. If anything, I should be thanking them when they bag my groceries for me.