Thursday, August 21, 2008

Grocery Shannanigans

Grocery shopping has always been an activity that I truly, truly enjoy.  All grocery stores are different.  Some are large with aisles of gorgeous produce, meats, cheeses and breads followed by aisles more of cans, jars and wines galore.  Some grocery stores are small and friendly, boasting specialty items and ingredients you buy but never know how to use.  I love grocery stores, mainly the Whole Foods and Trader Joe's I left behind in California when i made this huge leap to Belgium.  To say that food-shopping is not the same anymore would be an understatement.

From the get-go, I have found grocery shopping here to be a completely different experience to the serenity of the muzak-piped shops in California.  Here, grocery shopping is a cut-throat deal.  there is no "excuse me" or "pardon me" when shopping carts get too close.  There are no friendly smiles or voices from over your shoulder hinting at a certain, delicious wine that some perfect stranger had at a dinner party last month.  there is none of that.  What there is, is pushing, grabbing and ignoring.  Of course, that's after you get inside the store.  Before you get into the store, you have to make sure you have a euro coin to push into a slot located at the front of the cart, which releases a key so you can get the cart.  The coin is returned to you when you return your cart.

Last week the cart i got had a coin stuck in it, so i got the cart for free.  Today, my coin got stuck in the cart.  I couldn't get the thing loose, so i had to go shopping cart-less.  This is not an easy task with two little boys.  Once in a while, a mom needs something to lean against, like a shelter in a storm - if you get my drift!  So, today, cart-less and defeated, I made my way into the store.  Pushing past the elbows of cranky old women, i made my way through to get the things i need.  There is no way to slowly enjoy the experience; one must push through and get to the front as quickly as possible.  I did this.

I made it to the checkout lane without too much stress, that is, except for the constant staring i get as i jabber away to the boys in English.  You'd think i was a cyclops or something by the looks i get.  So, finally it's my turn at the register, and little miss 16 year old register girl starts speaking in Flemish to me.  At this point i must get that 'Bambi in the fire' look on my face, because, thankfully, she shuts up.

I pull my grocery sack out of my owl backpack and start frantically stuffing groceries into it.  Finally, we are out of the store, peacefully making our way back home.  Cold air on my face, wind breezing around me, i can breathe again.  But then i remembered the things i needed to get for tomorrow, and i realize i have to repeat this experience in the morning...


bwhahrhr said...

I think you are an exelennt blogger, mrs Owlphanumeric. Your shopping experience is similar to every I had so far, well exept that I dont get alienated looks for talking to my non-existing kids in english... ;)

I guess thats the main thing that speaks against europe, compared to the U.S. - the grumpyness that people wear on their faces towards strangers. *sigh*

I loved the 'Bambi in the fire'-phrase. I even was imagining you giving that exact look towards the woman at the register and "awwwwwww'd"

500 take-away hugs prepacked for on-the-move usage for you.

yaffle said...

I am not a fan of shopping, I just want to get my stuff and get the hell out of there as fast as possible. I refuse to take a trolley in the supermarket, I always ALWAYS take a basket - this does two things:

1) it prevents me from buying more than I can carry.
2) I don't get trolley-rage while manoeuvring it around shoppers dawdling in the middle of an aisle.

zzzzzzane said...

excellent blogger indeed!!!

i love love love grocery stores! there are so interesting...and each one is different. In Taiwan it's sort of the same with the shopping. People aren't going to recommend anything, apologize, smile... no.
hahaha...i do that. and then i get the major stares. which...i have become used to and sort of enjoy now. it makes me feel good that i am different and not like everyone else. and also...if you apologize or smile or recommend something...hey...maybe they will do it next time too...?!!
auuha...yeah... i'm writing as if i am so experience and old and wise...bah!
also...i tend to ramble when i write. :D