Did I Say That? Plastic bag plight

Nothing is more humiliating than struggling to open a plastic poop bag while your dog is doing his (or her) business in the middle of the street and the whole neighborhood is watching and wondering, “What’s this dimwit going to do now?”

You want to yell, “Don’t worry, I’m gonna pick it up! But I can’t get the bag open! Somebody help me PLEASE before a car comes and there’s an environmental disaster worse than the BP oil spill!”

Famous last words — “I can’t get the bag open!” From suburban streets to supermarket checkout lines, there’s a crisis in America: We can’t open our plastic bags.

To my thinking, there’s no other product so user-unfriendly. (Of course, wise dog owners don’t have to endure this ordeal because they just walk away, leaving the damage for someone else to clean up.)

Plastic bag malfunction is a problem Al Gore should look into, although he’d probably recommend banning them in order to reduce landfill waste, which would mean we’d have to carry around rolls of toilet paper to accommodate the canine population and put our groceries in purses and backpacks. The only hope we have is for Donald Trump to form a task force of past U.S. presidents, the Westminster Kennel Club and the Supermarket Association of America to conduct focus groups and issue a lengthy report.

The greatest scientific minds of our nation must develop a bag that opens without a hassle at fire hydrants, checkout lines, produce sections, bakeries and Walmart.

I’ve often thought that opening a plastic bag is a skill they should teach from a young age, like the multiplication tables and potty training. After years of frustration, I developed my own method, which has proved quite effective, although it’s a bit low class and unhygienic. I spit on my fingers and rub the edges of the bag until they separate.

Very often, though, I’m trying to open the wrong end. Dog bags open from a different end than the plastic bags at the supermarket bakery or produce section, which leads me to believe the Commerce Department or the U.S. surgeon general should require clear labeling that says, “OPEN THIS END.”

That way I won’t have to fumble with it while I’m rummaging through the jelly doughnuts and Danish. I could just spit on my fingers, open the bag and grab a pastry. Of course, other shoppers get annoyed when they see me spit on my hand, but it’s not as disgusting as people who don’t pick up after their dogs.

I hate being in the checkout line at Stop & Shop, with the groceries piling up on the conveyor belt because the cashier is scanning them faster than I can bag them — all because I’m struggling with pieces of plastic. Whose idea was it anyway to replace paper grocery bags with flimsy plastic ones that fall apart before you can get them home? Even worse, the staff in the checkout line puts just one item in each bag, and you end up with so many you can’t fit them in your trunk.

Bagging is one of the most important skills in a civilized consumer society. Done correctly, it can make America great again, and if you’re old enough to remember when America actually was great, you know that back then every cashier had his or her own assistant who was trained in the martial arts of bagging and could pack groceries according to genus and species in a matter of seconds.

Now, ordinary citizens often have to do the job themselves. Every time I start bagging, I feel like a doofus because I can’t open the bags quickly enough, and the groceries keep piling up. As a last resort, I’ll discreetly spit on my fingers … until someone reports me to the manager, who sends in a relief bagger who orders me to get the heck out of the way.

Spitting on your fingers in a grocery store, I’ve been informed, is a federal offense punishable by up to five years at Danbury Penitentiary, scooping out mashed potatoes to inmates in the cafeteria line, folding underwear in the laundry or working as a bagger at the prison gift shop.

What’s this country coming to when it’s against the law to spit in public?

Joe Pisani can be reached at joefpisani@yahoo.com.