Look, I know all about the R-word, okay? I know we’re not supposed to use it anymore, and that it’s offensive, and I probably wouldn’t think it as much as I do if I knew someone who was actually retarded. Notice I said “think” and not “say,” which is an important distinction because I really don’t say the word all that much. And not because of this banning the R-word nonsense, okay, Word Police? Your hearts are in the right place, but how about you assholes stay away from telling the Internet what to do and go back to giving out trophies for participation? I don’t watch my use of the word “retarded” because of you. I watch my use of the word “retarded” because of a terrible 5th grade teacher I had.
Miss Nelson was an overweight, overbanged, over-MC Hammer-pantsed slag who only liked the popular kids and treated everyone else like shit. Do you know what that’s like? Forget inattentive teachers, my childhood was full of people like her who outright bullied kids on the ugly cusp of puberty who, if they weren’t already being bullied by their peers, were just trying to stay out of everyone’s way and avoid being bullied in the future. One of Miss Nelson’s favorite things to ask students was “are you retarded?” when they did something she didn’t like. Which could be anything. Another thing about teachers in my school – because I went to Catholic school, trouble with my teachers wasn’t something I could tell my parents. See, in Catholic school (and I guess public schools of previous generations, as kids today feel comfortable cussing out their teachers because their parents never smacked them around enough), the teachers are always right. Period. It didn’t matter if what they were saying was actually, empirically wrong, or if they were being cruel to you for no reason. It also didn’t matter if they treated children based on their own moods, which mine did frequently and my parents didn’t believe me until my mom helped out on a field trip when I was in 6th grade and was suddenly appalled by the roaring bitches who supervised us while on their periods.
Anyway. The point is that Miss Nelson could and did tell students off for sometimes nothing at all, and usually, this involved accusing kids of being retarded. I didn’t even take pleasure in her saying it to kids I didn’t like. I knew it was mean and wrong and that she wasn’t qualified to teach gym let alone English. This is why Miss Nelson is still the worst teacher I’ve ever had, and that includes the art teacher who I’m pretty sure tried to hit on me once. So I know that calling people retarded is mostly wrong, okay, and so I only use the word when I actually mean retarded, in either the clinical or literal sense.
With that said, would it be inappropriate of me to tell the retarded baggers at Schnuck’s that I can bag my groceries myself?
Schnuck’s is bad enough with the grocery baggers. I don’t know if it’s store policy or general laziness among 16-20-year-old employees or an unfortunate combination of both, but even when someone isn’t mentally disabled, I end up walking out of the store with about 4 bags more than I needed, and I feel really bad about all of that plastic. The retarded baggers use even more bags and double-bag a lot for some reason, and I feel like a huuuuuuge asshole for thinking it because I’m sure they’re just being extra careful to do their jobs well and hey, maybe some people like all those bags (probably the same lazy bastards who spend their entire time in the checkout line on the phone while the cashier scans all their coupons and bags a mountain of shit for them), but I’m asking if it’s rude for me to be like “it’s cool, I can handle it.” Even when the store isn’t that busy? And I really don’t mind bagging my own shit (for god’s sake, the world will not end if you put a shampoo bottle in the same bag as the milk)?
Don’t worry, I can hear you screaming at the screen about reusable bags. I have them. And I use them. I just don’t use them all the time, because if I did, I’d need like ten of them to keep at home, at work, and in the car, and even then, the baggers (not just the retarded ones, either) still use plastic bags because they don’t want to put the pork chops next to the toilet paper or whatever other nonsense. I prefer to bag my own groceries because I can’t stand seeing it done wrong, and also I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t put the cereal boxes along one side of the bag inside of just piled on top of everything else like an afterthought.
What is the etiquette here? The protocol? How can I say it without offending the retarded bagger in particular, or the black bagger, or anyone else who, in my white girl mind, could possibly construe my request as hatefulness when I really just want to bag my own groceries my way?