In the balance

Bathroom scale in kilograms
Bathroom scale in kilograms

We bought a bathroom scale today, or as the French call it a balance. I only know that’s the name because of something that happened in the supermarket. Fruits and vegetables are displayed much as they are in the US on large angled tables where each shopper is free to choose the produce that she or he wants. The big difference comes next and that’s where the balance comes into play.

After you select the fresh products you want and place them into the provided plastic bags, it’s up to you to weigh them on the nearby electronic scale that prints out a sticky barcoded price tag that you adhere to your bag. Luckily the screen has both the name and a color drawing of each item so it’s pretty easy to keep from confusing pommes (apples) with pommes de terre (potatoes).

What it doesn’t tell you is what to do when the printer runs out of labels and how to describe it to one of the supermarket employees. Fortunately I knew every word except “scale” and since “machine” appears to be universally understood it wasn’t long before a helpful staff member was filling the balance, explaining to me what she was doing.

So the moment of truth arrived when we each stepped on our new balance after more than a month of vacation-like eating and no formal exercise. Imagine our surprise to see the screen light up with numbers significantly below what we expected them to be. That was initially a fleeting bit of joy because we realized our weights were being displayed in kilograms rather than pounds. We could either multiply that number by 2.2 or just slide a button on the bottom of the scale to see the numbers we were used to. I’m happy and shocked to say that when we did that our weights were still the same from the US despite copious amounts of bread, cheese, and wine. Looks like those walks along the river and into town really are working!

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