Monday, March 23, 2009

In my Local Supermarket one Day

Whether you were wondering or not, Russian supermarkets are essentially the same as New Zealand ones; although there are some little differences -- as Quentin Tarentino and John Travolta would have you know (by the way, over here, a Quarter Pounder is called a Royal Chizberger). For instance, there is a great deal more fish available here, fewer dairy products, and an given specific product is likely to be stocked inconsistently. In addition, produce is weighed in the produce section of the supermarket by which-ever staff member happens to be nearby; not at the checkout counter (a point of difference which thwarted my inaugural attempt at buying oranges).

This little anecdote of mine begins with my being the entire queue for the above mentioned scales. With no staff on hand to work the scales, I stood and waited patiently. Whether I'm expected to call out for help, do the weighing myself, or simply look expectant, I haven't made up my mind over; so I usually err on the side of Anglo-Celtic indirectness, and wait quietly.

As I was waiting, a young woman walked up to me carrying some apples, and joined the queue (joined, or formed? Is one man standing in a supermarket, holding half a dozen oranges a queue, or just a guy standing around holding oranges?) She observed that there was no-one around who could weigh her apples for her, and probably began talking at length about it. When her stream of Russian finally came to an end, I decided not to make her feel as though she had wasted all of that effort in expounding her thoughts, so I simply smiled an nodded.

She continued what she seemed to think was out conversation, prompting me to say in my head Bugger. There goes my chance to apologise for not being able to speak Russian, and hope that she wouldn't ask a follow-up question. She appeared not to notice that I didn't say a word, but then I get the feeling that most people she spoke to did nothing more than nod and smile politely.

A staff-member emerged from the shelves at last, and my new friend exercised her social responsibility as a hot Russian woman to push in front of any men in the line without acknowledgment.

Let us now skip ahead in this story -- past an example of my grocery shopping method (which is mostly just wandering through the supermarket until I see something that I might be inclined to eat).

I spy a man: maybe 40, solidly built, warmly dressed and sporting a mustache you could clean your shoes on. He was swaggering through an alcohol aisle of the store (one of several, even in my small local supermarket), making limited use of his hips and knees, moving like a refrigerator being walked along a hallway. It gave the impression of confidence, but with a hint of a recent prostate exam.

He reached out, and plucked from the shelf a can of pre-mixed bourbon and cola, opened it, and began taking swigs as he walked. Between him and me was my chatty friend with the apples, past whom he swaggered. He looked at her, then down at her skirt, which was really more of a token gesture than a practical piece of clothing, and said "Kholodno? (Cold?)"

She glanced at him, a little surprised. "Nyet."

The man returned his head forward, took another swig, and said to no-one "Molodets (good on ya')," never missing a single stride.


theflyingnerd said...

Ollie have hot new Russian friend ;)

Do people do the banana in an empty trolley trick in Russia? Apparently it happens here but i've never seen it.

O Graeme Burns said...

I'm sorry, the WHAT trick? Is that some weird innuendo, or something?