When I was in grade 10, I had a part-time job. Every Saturday, I bagged groceries at a local store using those great brown paper bags that the store provided. Then I’d wheel or carry them out to the customer’s car. This was a job; I was actually paid for this. I had no idea that was the end of an era.

Last week, after I’d processed my own order at a self-checkout, charged myself for my purchases and packed the bags I brought with me, I wondered what might be next in the cost-cutting efforts of grocery store chains. Here is where my mind wandered.

Next we’ll be required to stock the shelves before picking our groceries. A supervisor will be present. “Sir, once you’ve put all the canned corn on the shelf, you may buy a can for yourself. Sorry, only one can to a customer today. Your neighbour called in sick and can’t come in to put the other case on the shelf.”

After that, they may get us to bring the boxes from out back and set them in the aisles so someone can stock the shelves. Under supervision, of course. Think of the money we’ll save the store.

The next move might be to teach us how to use a pallet jack so we can unload the trucks. Again, a supervisor will be present to tell us where to put the various boxes. Yes, until robots are further developed, they’ll have to blow their budgets by having supervisors. What a financial drag those employees are. Think how much lower our grocery bills would be without them.

The next logical step is to have some of us work in the factories where food gets processed, packaged and ready to ship. Or maybe we’ll spend a day or two a month at a slaughterhouse. That’ll save the grocery store chains some serious cash and may improve sales in the produce department as suddenly great throngs of people become vegetarians.

It dawns on me that this may lead to all of us moving out into the country, growing and harvesting our own food. Maybe we’ll trade some items with our neighbours so we don’t have to involve grocery stores at all. It’ll be the 21st century equivalent of Little House on the Prairie. Would this be considered progress?

As I leave, I’m almost embarrassed to have taken these thoughts to these extremes. How silly of me; it’ll never come to all that. I blush inwardly. My thoughts are interrupted by a staffer who tells me, “Sir, just a reminder that next week, you’ll need to bring your own shopping cart.”

This is definitely a new era.