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The place where thoughts get thought out. Or something like that.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

An American Asshole In Germany

Kudos to you if you get the film reference!

Do they even make those any more? Ah, well, just stay in that position until a new civilization arises that needs snacky treats. Then they will invent Kudos and you can have some. (Even more if you get the literary reference.)

So, I go to the supermarket the other day, (which, locally, is known as the MiniMal), looking to buy some food and drinks and such. I step inside and shop for a little bit, when I suddenly realize that I've picked up more than I can safely carry. At first I do the Irrational Guy Thing, thinking that maybe I'm strong enough and tough enough to just carry all of it, pain be damned.

That lasted for all of two seconds.

Feeling like a little kid, I put all of my groceries thus far on one of the random shelves that I happened to be near. I resolved to go right outside and get myself one of those neat little baskets that you find in your local Ralphs or Albertsons.

I check near the door. No basket.
I check near the checkstands. No basket.

A little irritated now, because I see OTHER people holding baskets, even though they don't seem to exist, I figure I'll just BRAVE the WINTER CHILL that I just know is waiting for me right outside the door. The idea is to get one of the neat little shopping carts that I know are standing right outside the market.

Realize, I'm in Full Guy Mode now.

So, anyways, I get outside and look at the empty cart rack standing right outside the supermarket (or Markt, as they say).

Before despair can fully grip his cold grasp upon my heart, however, a beacon of shining hope appears before me in the form of a middle-aged woman, returning from the parking lot with an empty basket. Though the language barrier prevents me from having a real conversation with most of those around me, her intentions are both universal and clear: she's going to return the cart!

Oh, joy! Oh, glorious of days!

I walk up to her, going to intercept the cart before she can put it away (and thus preventing some unseen rival from superceding me in this battle for cart supremacy) and she does her best to avoid me!

Oh, cruel fates!

Still, she seems intent upon returning the cart.
As she pulls it into the rack, I once again attempt to take the cart. Annoyed, she looks over to me and spouts something in German. Something loud and somewhat angry, I would say.

Now, a quick aside: I don't know if it's just me, or a general Asian American thing, but now that I'm living (however temporarily) in another country, when someone says something completely unintelligible to me in their native language, I automatically shy back, totally submissive. Guy Mode Off, you know?

(Maybe it's some of the Japanese in me reacting in some way to a weird form of Gaijin Smash.)

So, she talks to me and I shy away, completely embarrassed. I feel that maybe I've acted in the way that the "Typical American Asshole" suppossedly acts when in a foregn land. She locks up the cart, using a little chain that's attached to the cart rack.

It's only then I notice the little coin pop out of the handle of the cart.

She holds it up to me as if to say: "Look, you American Moron, I just wanted my money."

Oh.

I get it.

And they say I'm a genius, huh?

Eventually, the little middle-aged woman understands my total lack of understanding. With a little bit of pantomime, she shows me that, in order to use the cart, I basically have to make a little deposit.

Thankfully, I'm able to make my little 1 Euro deposit and use the damned cart.

I still can't believe that you have to make a deposit to use shopping carts around here. Or that they don't give you shopping bags.

In fact, now that I think about it, the checkstand clerk probably has a hell of a laugh watching me try to put groceries in my little shoulder bag before she mixes my stuff with the stuff of the next person in line.
Yeah, she checks it through that fast.

If I ever rule the world, I'm going to make sure that there's baggers at every checkstand, with free plastic bags and carts that you don't have to worry about a deposit for. It's all we need for world peace and understanding.

Or maybe I'm overreacting a little.

Nah.

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