How much do I tip the bagging people at the Comissary?

I went grocery shopping today and I’m proud of myself, I didn’t just by junk food. Anywho, how much do I tip the people who took my bags out to my car? A couple of bucks? A dollar per bag? I just gave the guy three dollars, but what is the customary amount?

I worked as a carry-out bagger once. Most people didn’t give anything at all. $1 - $2 dollars was typical for those that did tip and I occasionally got a $5. That was in the late '80s. $3 sounds good for a typical load.

I worked at Safeway for a month or so. It was company policy to not accept tips. In that time only a single person offered and I didn’t accept.

This is a military commissary, so the baggers are independant contractors, who work for tips alone. A dollar per bag sounds about right, maybe less if you have a bunch of bags.

Hey, my first foray into the world of employment was as a commissary bagger. RAF Upper Heyford, UK, and Bergstrom AFB, Texas. From about the age of 13 until I started college - so about 6 years.

I hated and loved bagging. Cheapskates, crotchety old retirees yelling “don’t crush my eggs,” getting caught behind a slow and hostile cashier were the low points. On the other hand, the nice people, former baggers who remembered what a tough job it could be, kind retirees who’d show you the interior of their Winnebago… and the buck sergeants who would give you a five dollar tip, even though they probably couldn’t afford it.

Keep in mind this was back in the mid 80s to early 90s for me… but I sort of expected to make between $7-$10 and hour. Baggers had to pay the bagging chief a “fee” (like $5) but typically, I’d come in after school, try to bag about 5-6 orders an hour (of course this depended on how busy the commissary was, if we were close to payday, etc.). Express lane rocked, because of the volume, but that was on a rotational basis.

I’d say, today, as a former bagger, I’d probably tip about $4 for a bagger’s cartful of groceries (one of the those deals that holds about 6 bags). Paper, of course. I have no idea how it works out with plastic. Plastic bags, BTW, are just not ideal for good bagging. They don’t have their own shape. If I had two, that’s an automatic tenner for me. I would probably err on the side of over-tipping because a) you’ll become known and get fast, courteous service, and b) for every great customer there are two crummy ones. I imagine most of the baggers are high school kids, or single enlisted folks trying to make a little extra, so it’s usually going to good use.

I used to really like the customers who actually engaged in conversation. It’s kind of weird to be intimately familiar with someone’s shopping habits (hey, I see you went with the value pack of Depends!) and not utter a word. Not about what you purchased, of course. That would be gauche.

If you’re really curious, I’d seek out the head bagger (at most commissaries, the bagger on the express lane) and ask them. They’ll be honest and tell you what the going rate is. But good for you for asking! When we moved off base and started shopping at civilian supermarkets, I was always confused that they would bag your groceries for free!

Do they carry the bags to your car for you? If not, I think $2-$3 is quite ample. If so, I’d add a dollar to whatever you paid for the bagging.

Yeah, the carry the bags to your car and’ll put them in the trunk for you.

In my opinion the plastic bags were MUCH easier to pack. With plastic it took maybe 10 seconds to pack – blindfolded. Paper was just a pain because you have to build walls as well as a base to give the bag structure(mostly due to the height of the bag).