Tape-Measure Receipts

Paperless is the future, right? So why is my grocery-store receipt long enough to be toilet paper for a small nation? It’s not that I bought so many items we need a ledger capable of parsing the federal deficit—I’ve got two bags of groceries and three bags of receipts.

In the last few years, receipts have grown from concise statements of accounting to reams of advertising. The back of my streamer-receipts are filled with coupons for things I will never buy, or for things I would love to buy one of, but not buy 10 to get one 50 percent off (if, and only if, I can remember to bring this paper python back and locate the one pertinent inch).

Even more confounding is that this phenomenon came along at the same time as the equally annoying club-card trend. No one could possibly carry a club card for every retail outlet, so the less paranoid among us are tricked into giving our phone numbers and e-mail addresses, which gives stores ample opportunities to bombard us with other invasive personalized advertising.

Or, perhaps, to send the receipt via e-mail. But no. Instead, here in the go-green era, paper receipts grow longer with every purchase.

Would you like help out to your car, ma’am?

Yes. I can get the groceries, but if you could carry out that receipt, that’d be grand.