It’s in the Bag

Liliana Rojas, cashier at Whole Foods Market in White Plains



Photo by John Rizzo

What made you go into this line of work?
I was a junior at Greenwich High School in February of 1999 when I heard about a part-time opening at the Whole Foods there. I wanted to help out with my family’s bills and improve my English—I came here from Peru in late 1997.

When packing groceries, what are the dos and don’ts?
Never put hot and cold items together, don’t put heavy stuff on top of soft, and don’t make bags too heavy. Do place cans at the bottom, put the eggs in a separate bag, put like items together, and use a small plastic bag for uncooked meats.

How often does someone come back to complain about bruised fruit or broken eggs?
Maybe once or twice a month. Our policy is a full refund.

Ever seen any random acts of kindness by customers on line?
Once a customer forgot her wallet at home, and the customer behind her said, ‘I’ll pay for it.’

Have you ever had a disagreement with a customer?
No, we can’t, because the customer is always right.

What’s the more common request: fewer heavier bags or more lighter ones?
About three-quarters of the time, people want fewer but heavier bags—because when they drive home, they don’t want to go back and forth from the car so many times to unload the groceries.

How many people want to bag their own groceries?
It’s a very small percentage, maybe three percent.

Have customers’ habits regarding shopping bags changed?
The number who bring their own reusable bags has
definitely increased—I’d say it’s about thirty percent now.

What was the biggest sale you’ve ever
rung up?

It was fifteen hundred dollars by a family from London who every so often comes to stay at  their house here. The chauffeur came to help, and they filled two shopping carts with about twenty bags.

What can you tell about a person from the contents of his or her grocery cart?
If they have kids and whether they eat healthily or not.

What causes the most tension between customers?
When someone on the five-items-or-less line has more than five items.

Okay, so please settle that age-old supermarket conundrum: on an express line, are five yogurts considered one item or five?
They officially count as one.

I knew it! Thank you.
You’re welcome.