On Canvas Grocery Bags and Pilot Uniforms

Being a “local” has its privileges.

When I started working at Papillon, I was told that many of the Tusayan businesses offered discounts for local residents and employees. I was also told that the grocery store was not one of them.

But the truth emerged slowly. While waiting in line to check out — in uniform at the end of the workday — the girl in front of me whined that she’d forgotten to bring her canvas shopping bag, the one that entitled her to the discount. She, her friend, and I were the only three people in line. The check out guy pretended at first that he didn’t know what she was talking about. But she was persistent and he finally gave in, probably to shut her up. But when she left, he was faced me with — obviously another local. He gave me the discount, too.

At Papillon, I asked around about the grocery bag. I was told that you had to buy a special canvas grocery bag and use it every time you shopped. You’d get a 10% discount on the bag and anything you bought when you had the bag with you. It was a sort of signal, a way to let the checkout guy know you were a local and you knew about the discount without spilling the beans in front of the tourists.

So today I went into the grocery store. I poked around, looking for the canvas shopping bag. When I didn’t find it, I went to the checkout counter, where the clerk was taking care of a customer. He asked me if he could help me.

I said, “I was told I needed to buy a certain canvas shopping bag.”

He looked at my uniform and nodded knowingly. “I haven’t seen one of those bags here in a while,” he said, packing the other customer’s purchases. “I’ll see if I can find one.”

But then other customers came and his line got long. I decided to let him work. I began to gather up the groceries I needed. I found the other clerk stocking shelves. I asked him about the bag. He told me they didn’t sell them. They only sold them in their grocery store in the park. I certainly didn’t plan on driving into the park to get a 10% discount on a few groceries. I finished shopping and brought my basket to the counter. The other customers were gone and the two clerks were talking. The one at the register said that even though I didn’t have the canvas bag, he’d give me the discount. And he did. I saved $4.

Afterwards, I went to Wendy’s and ordered a Chicken Spinach Salad at the drive thru window. (I don’t really like fast food, but I admit that Wendy’s makes a pretty good salad.) When I got to the pay window and asked how much (I can never understand them on those speakers), he mumbled a number, then said, “But four sixty seven with the discount.” He’d obviously seen my captain’s bars.

Oddly enough, I’m starting to FEEL like a local here. I just have to get my hands on one of those canvas bags.

What do you think?