Paper or Plastic?

American Culture,English Vocabulary 19 April 2010 | 3 Comments

Here’s a dialog that takes place at the check-out counter at a grocery store:

Speaker A: Hello. How are you?
Speaker B: Fine and you?
Speaker A: Fine. Paper or Plastic?
Speaker B: Plastic, please.
Speaker A: Do you have your discount card?
Speaker B: Sure, here it is. (Hands card.)
Speaker A: That will be 10 dollars and 51 cents.
Speaker B: (Runs her credit card on the credit card machine)
Speaker A: Is that a credit card or ATM card?
Speaker B: Credit.
Speaker A: Thank you, have a nice day!
Speaker B: Thank you. You too.

This is a very typical conversation that you would have with a check-out person at a grocery store in the United States.

paper or plastic – This refers to the type of bag you receive. Some people have switched to bringing their own re-useable bags. But, no matter which grocery store you go to, they will either ask you “Paper or Plastic?” or they will say, “Is plastic okay?”

discount card – For some odd reason in the United States, in the Southern States, the grocery stores each have an individual discount card. You have to use the discount card in order to receive the weekly discounts. In other states like Texas, these cards do not exist. Anyone would receive the weekly discounts.

credit card or ATM – ATM means Automated Teller Machine. The money from the ATM card comes directly out of your bank account. If you use an ATM card or pay by check you could take additional money out of your account and receive it there at the grocery store. They would ask you, “Would you like cash back?”

3 Responses on “Paper or Plastic?”

  1. oxwinter says:

    You are not asked,”paper or plastic?” at the grocery stores,here.
    Paper-bag is not seen at all,recently.
    I wonder when they stopped using paper-bags.
    I don’t remember…??
    and,now
    The number of grocery store is increasing,at which you need to pay small money for a plastic bag.
    It is said that this is for decreasing the plastic garbage.
    Since people don’t want to pay extra money,
    they get to bring their own re-useable bags.
    me?
    Of couse,I bring my own bag. haha

  2. Yvonne says:

    Hi oxwinter! Here are my correctionts: ‘Paper-bags are..”
    ” increasing where you need to pay a small amount money for one.”

    That’s it – very good comment! In Ireland and France it’s the same way – you have to pay for your bags. Also, where we live in Canada it is that way too. I kick myself when I forget my re-usable bags and have to pay the 10 cents for a bag. I know they are cheap, but I don’t like paying for them.

    I think the US needs to make us pay for them as well, since it will cut down on their use.

  3. Elena says:

    Here in Spain you have to pay for your bags (plastic & paper) in certain stores, but there are still lots of them where they give you loads of them for free. I think German people are the best at using re-usable bags. British are getting better, as well as Spanish, but there´s still a long way to go…

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