We went on a shopping trip today and it took hours. Not because we were dashing from store to distant store; we were only in one. Not because we were buying a huge number of things; our purchases barely covered the bottom of the shopping cart. It was because we had a list of everything we were looking for so instead of strolling up and down each aisle, casually dropping items as we noticed them into the basket, we went in search of each one.
The house that we’ve rented is fully furnished so other than consumables we don’t really have to provide anything. Of course food and drink were top of the list so we took care of that on day one and continue to fill the pantry and refrigerator with something daily. So what else do we need? Cleaning supplies. We have typically used vinegar and water but these are foreign lands so who knows what they might have? Into the brightly colored pink, blue, green, and yellow plastic bottle aisles we went. At least that part looked familiar but how can you be sure it’s soap for laundry and not fabric softener or for hand washing dishes? Well, we couldn’t. For example, we bought this huge pump bottle of hand cream for a really cheap price only to discover that it’s hand soap. At least we got the “hand” part right. Who knew that salt and powdered dishwashing detergent aren’t the same thing; after all they were sitting on the shelf side-by-side.
Anyway, we got to the right section of the supermarket so next we had to figure out what things are called. I’d looked up “spray starch” ahead of time and only after 3 times down the same aisle did I spot the word amidon on one can on a bottom shelf. Not a popular product, apparently, but one item off the list and only 10 more to go.
Eventually we did manage to find everything on the list once we had studied literally every box, bottle, and tube in site. We got it all home and put away and then looked at the receipt. What in the world did we buy? There’s verseuse, ramette, cif inox, vav vitr, and oh look, there’s my friend amidon, the starch. Every day’s a learning experience.
Oh, I almost forgot the best part. Generally you have to provide your own grocery bags or, as we did, once you’re checked out you just load it all back into the shopping cart and roll it out to your car. As we were doing that I realized that we had neglected to put 2 cutting boards up on the conveyer belt so now we had to go back into the store and somehow explain that we had accidently walked out the door without paying for something. Luckily our cashier was still there so he just laughed, took our cash, and said “thank you” in English. Phew, an international incident avoided!