Hating Cloth Bags

Now, like many people, I have a lot of prejudices which come from deep in my childhood. I have hated creamed tuna and peas on toast for such a long time that it is wholly traditional. It is not a viand I generally find in the Potash Deli or at Burger King, so I have not actually encountered this exotic dish in decades. I can go on hating it without much ado.

Other hatreds have developed more recently, but still do not require explanation. Hating computers that do what I tell them to do instead of what I thought I was telling them to do is entirely logical and needs no heart-searching in a blog.

But I suppose I’d better explain cloth bags, that twenty-first century answer to the question of how to get the groceries home. Plastic bags and paper bags each being offensive to parts of the grocery-hunting audience, cloth has been chosen as an answer.

Now, cloth bags exited long before the current epoch. Once upon a time, you would have seen a smaller version of Uncle Blogsy trotting merrily along an Iowa sidewalk carrying a thin gray cloth bag with books in it. Once he was old enough to be trusted to get to the library and back by himself, he frequently carried books along. He would leave these books on a massive wooden desk and set off home again, almost always with more books. Little did he reck that this gray bag—which remains a treasured symbol of his childhood trips with Books (rolls of papyrus, no doubt)—was the ancestor of a whole clan of cloth bags he would loathe with a passion previously reserved for creamed tuna and peas.

You’re used to your Uncle Blogsy’s ravings, so you have probably already spotted it: that seed which was sown so many decades ago. Let’s take that story by its main bullet points: cloth bags, trip to library, leave the books, take home the bags.

It seems that every day now, at least one person comes to the library with a bagful of books and says, “I want my bag back.” Listen carefully, anchovy cobbler: we don’t want your books heaped up on the dock or behind the desk in the lobby. We want them to be IN something, so we can move them around without fetching the wheelbarrow. We may get a truckload of new chairs in right after you leave, prune croquette, and be unable to unload because you’ve stacked your Encyclopaedia Britannica AND forty years’ worth of Reader’s Digest Condensed Books on the end of the dock so you could take the nifty recyclable bags home.

I know, I know: you didn’t buy those nifty cloth bags so Uncle Blogsy could get his grubby mitts on them. Here are a few suggestions to make your book donations more palatable for both of us.

Use boxes. They’re easier for me to stack at those times when eleven people decide to clean out their shelves on the same day.

Use plastic bags. You must have some evil old ones sitting around; surely you want to get rid of them.

Use the cloth bags and leave them behind. BUT MENTION IT ON YOUR RECEIPT. That way you get the deduction AND you may puzzle some auditor with a deduction she’s never seen before. “You gave how many cloth bags to Uncle Blogsy even though he hates them?” It’ll distract her from all those books on toenail fungus you donated.

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