One of the many culture shocks when first moving here was grocery shopping. Not only did I have to learn the names of different grocery stores, learn the different names for items, learn how much British pounds can get me at the store, learn different measurements, learn what items are worth buying for and what items I like, learn how to do all my grocery shopping online, (which is the best thing ever invented by the way) but I also had to learn how to bag my own groceries. Yes, you read that right.
Can you tell me what is wrong with this picture?
Answer: First, all the cashiers sit. At first, I was like, oh weird, but whatever, right? Why should they have to stand all day?
Second, and most importantly, no one is waiting at the end of the check-out lane to bag your groceries! Why? Because you have to do it yourself! Not even the lady sitting at the register helps. Not one bit. It was the weirdest experience when I first learned while standing by the counter that I had to do it myself.
This has been quite the shock. Although I do online shopping and delivery the absolute majority of the time, occasionally I do need to go to the store for those items "I forgot", or that "I need more of", or that "I got the wrong thing of", etc. You all know what I am talking about.
Taking kids to the grocery store is a feat in of itself, but grocery shopping with kids here is one step behind mission impossible.
Imagine taking a 4 year old and a 2 year old to a store where there are no such things as shopping carts, or trolleys, as they say here. If they do have a trolley it is not a big deep one. If they do have a big deep one it definitely does not have a seat for a child to sit in. So I have to use my buggy as my shopping cart instead, (I have a single Maclaren which is a fancy umbrella stroller. Not big at all.), with my two year old in it, carry a wire basket in one hand, and have my 4 year old follow me through a busy crowded store.
When I make it to the check out counter I now have to unload the food from every nook and cranny in my buggy, unload the heavy wire basket, pay for my food, and bag all the food, all by myself. Also, I now have my two kids trying to get my attention for whatever reason; crying, hungry, I don't know, and have impatient city folk waiting and queuing up behind me. Oh yeah, ALL the while the cashier sits in her chair and just watches me. Winning.
I was fully aware before moving here about European customer service, but honestly, would it be such an inconvenience to help a mother out? To reach out your hand while you sit on your arse and put in a few items in a bag? Heaven forbid I ask you to do something outside of your job description! Ugh.
To be fair, I have had a small few, less than a handful, of cashiers either help me out or tell me to not worry and take my time. I am SO grateful for those gracious people when they give you a look of understanding and a look like "Everyone behind you CAN wait."
Needless to say, I or just Tim, only go to the store completely sans kids, or I go with kids AND with Tim for help, or I only pop in to the store to literally get 1-2 things max with the girls. But I hardly do any of these.
I certainly love the online shopping and delivery to my counter business here. LOVE it. I don't know what I would do without it. They definitely have that right here. LOVE!
My dad always asks me what food items I am going to miss when I move back to the states. At first, my answer was, "Nothing." But that has quickly changed. One of the things I know for sure I will miss is this drink.
Best brand for juices. I have never tasted anything more pure and tasty as their juices and smoothies. (I dare even say it is probably better than Trader Joes or Naked juice! Eek! I just said that!)
More British terminology:
OJ with pulp = OJ with bits
OJ with no pulp = OJ smooth
For kicks, I always wonder what people would say if I told them, "In America, there is someone waiting at the end of the check-out lane to bag all your food for you, (paper or plastic?), put it all in your shopping cart, AND take it all out to your car AND put it in the trunk of your car!"
God Bless America.