ZIPLOC BAGS ~ I can prove it’s in my genes.


© by Oma Liz, 2011

Around 1970 or so I discovered the infamous Ziploc Bags. Perhaps embraced would be a more accurate word.
            Until then I had stored leftovers in Saran Wrap or aluminum foil, but never in wax paper. You remember them. Wax paper was totally unforgiving with bends, bumps, and modern art forms. Saran Wrap stuck to everything including itself. We knew that a yard of Saran Wrap would physically attack us and still might possibly cover a banana. Aluminum foil was my wrap of choice. Its peccadilloes were ignored in favor of flexibility, ease of tearing, and reuse. And I made aluminum bags to hold odds and ends.
            Then I bought my first box of Ziploc Bags. I was in heaven. Everything from turkey drumsticks to sewing supplies could be stored in them without trouble. Load the bag, press out the air, zip it shut. Case, as they say: closed. Aluminum foil became my cooking ally, but Ziploc Bags became my lifestyle.
            Their flexibility is truly awesome. From dead animals meant for dissection, through teenagers’ leftover makeup to Lego Blocks, writing implements, jewelry, safety pins, medications, toiletries, and so on, Ziploc Bags provided the answer. As a photographer, I was able to sort, store, and transport all varieties of photographic paraphernalia during outings. Then, after the slides and photographs were developed, they could be stored safely during trips. Now, DVD’s and flash drives are stored in the Ziploc fashion.
          Much to my principal’s amusement during the teaching years, I passed my passion to fellow teachers and their students. Many children were able to gain control of the Lilliputian pieces of their lives in those bags.  
          Collection of samples from the natural world, from seeds through rock/minerals in the field, my Ziplocs are there to assist me.  A Ziploc can even keep me safe from poison ivy. I turned the bag inside out to use as a glove, then inverted and sealed it.
            In the days when our children were young, we tent camped. Nearly everything from food to tent stakes to toys to writing and camera equipment and science tools, all sizes of bits and pieces – eventually ended up its own Ziploc. Not even dirty laundry was exempt. Many an incredible person in remote Laundromats stared in amazement when we started to dump dirty clothes into the washers from the gallon size bags. But, almost to a (wo)man, were so intrigued, they told us they would enter into the Ziploc world.
            As time went by, the children grew up and went their own ways, but the camping never quite ended for my husband and me. We began to fly to vacation areas throughout the United States, either tenting or motelling after we landed. Somehow I had figured out that one can expel air from a Ziploc Bag by leaving a small half inch gap in an otherwise sealed zip. The clothing within the bag was either rolled or sat on, the air was expelled, and packing no longer took up incredible amounts of space.
            Our grown children don’t seem to have inherited the Ziploc DNA.
            As my financial picture improved through the years, I finally graduated from my single carry-all to various styles, sizes, and colors of handbags. Moving the necessities of life became a pleasure because switching handbags meant simply taking a set of bags out and dumping it into another. It’s a practice I used quite a bit.
            The list goes on endlessly. Life had become so much easier.
            In 2004, through an incredible coincidence, some relatives in Australia and I found each other after believing we had died in WWII. So, in 2006, I travelled to Oz, as the natives call it, to see all five generations of them. They have also visited me here in the USA since then.
            Immediately after I arrived, we went to visit cousin Gertie. My Gertie and I hadn’t seen each other for seventy years. She prepared a huge family feast for us, and we women scurried around following her commands. Some things never change. She always was in charge. I love it. At one point I needed to store some small food items and asked Gertie , “Do you have a Ziploc Bag?”
            Without turning around, she jerked a thumb over her shoulder and said, “That drawer in the middle. The big drawer.”
            It was full of Ziploc Bags of every size and weight. You have to remember that the five generations present at the get-together not only looked alike, but we had the same reddish tinged hair, misshapen ears and toes, large peasant hands, poor sense of balance, weight problems, hearty laugh, sense of humor, love of travelling and exploring, and the same preferences in clothing and food. Interestingly enough, we all exhibited various degrees of the mental outlooks that have been in our family for generations. Not only that, but we are all outspoken for human rights and have no problem being vocal when those rights are threatened.
            But, Ziploc Bags? What a coincidence. It turned out all five generations used them. Even the then 3 year old walked around carrying her toys in them. We all agreed that there must be a gene for Ziploc Bags.
            But the Ziploc story does not end in Australia. Several years ago, my grandson was going to karate and couldn’t find his green belt. He finally had to attend to class without it. Daughter Barbara and I turned the house inside out. We looked everywhere. No belt. She checked her car. No green belt. I check my auto. No green belt. Both of us finally remembered that I had been the last to hold it, and had commented about how neatly it could be folded into a fairly small space.
            Just before bedtime the three of us again turned the place inside out. We had seen it several days previously and now we knew I had put it “somewhere”.
            As my grandson lay in bed later that evening, I was reading him a bedtime story. Unexpectedly, daughter walked into the room. She merrily told us she found it hanging in a Ziploc on a low peg rack in the kitchen, in plain sight. “Just where you had put it, mom. In plain sight.”
            I said to her, “Ghosts of Edgar Allen Poe’s Purloined Letter. You remember him. He lived in Philadelphia for six years.”
          After my grandson was asleep, my daughter, still laughing, told me the rest of her story: “Mom, I wasn’t laughing about Poe. I was laughing at myself. You see, since I knew you were the last person to handle the karate belt, I thought you must have put it neatly into a Ziploc Bag. And, being well aware of your fetish, I was looking for the Ziploc Bag containing the belt. I looked in the drawers where you store the boxes of different sizes. I then checked in the first aid box, the kitchen cabinets, even in your luggage, hoping to find elusive belt in what I knew would be Ziploc. The belt was not in the several dozen that you are using throughout the house. Then I glanced at the peg board. There it was.”
            Ziploc Bags. It’s in my DNA.


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