Sunday, November 8, 2009

Bag it

I get a good laugh every time I go shopping at any big box retail/grocery store such as Carrefour, Hero, Macro or Hypermart. They have a severely flawed bag check policy which I constantly dispute. Any outside bags are supposed to be checked at the entrance. If I have my laptop in my backpack, I refuse since I don't trust someone making $50 a month not to steal my $1000 laptop. Whenever they stop me and request that I check my backpack, I say that I don't want to. They reply that I HAVE to and I (without fail) point to one of the numerous women entering the store with a gigantic designer purse dangling off her shoulder. They explain to me that they are allowed to bring those bags in. I reply that if they aren't going to make them check their bags then I'm not going to check mine. They usually give up at that point and let me and my backpack in the store.

Usually, I play the oblivious expat card when entering the store. Earphones in, I walk in listening to music pretending not to hear the person at the entrance politely uttering "Mr, excuse, mister, hello...". Sometimes they follow me, sometimes they don't. On one recent trip to Macro (similar to Costco), one store employee in the light bulb section (light bulbs are often locked up in this country) insisted that I check my bag. I pointed to a couple of women with large purses and a maid carrying a very large diaper bag. She told me that those were allowed but backpacks must be checked. I couldn't resist so I proceeded to demonstrate to her that if I wanted to steal something, I would have to remove my backpack, kneel on the ground, unzip said backpack, insert the item to be stolen, re-zip the backpack, stand back up and put the backpack on again, all of which would be VERY obvious to one and all. I then (mime) demonstrated that if someone with a large purse wanted to steal something, all they had to do was slightly move the arm that was holding the purse and shove something inside. This would take but a second and would be very easy to get away with. This whole demonstration was lost on her but she gave up and agreed to open the light bulb safe and sell me a precious bulb.

The way that the bag check system works is pretty straightforward, you give them your bag, they give you a ticket with a number and a corresponding number is put in a cubby hole with your bag. One time, I went to claim my bag and they had lost their corresponding number. I kept insisting that the green bag on the bottom was mine but they wouldn't give it to me. I told them to look inside and that I could identify the contents. This was insufficient. They got the head bag department person and eventually the store manager to come speak to me. After refusing to fill out a 2 page form and pointing out that it was the store's incompetence and not mine that led to this problem, they gave me my bag. They never did ask me about the contents and I realized that I probably could have gotten any bag on the shelf I wanted with enough persistence. Sometimes, you have to put your trust in people but when it comes to the precious contents of my backpack, I will never trust the severely flawed Jakarta bag check system.

1 comment:

  1. Dont lose the number you get, 10 bucks