One thing I never quite understood when I first landed here was the extent of choice available to the shopper. Why, I wondered, were there sooooo many things to buy. My first attempt to buy toothpaste almost ended in a disaster when I stood there in the aisle for minutes trying to decide if I preferred Colgate Total Advanced Whitening, Colgate Total Advanced Fresh, Colgate Total Advanced Clean or Colgate Whitening Oxygen Bubbles, which are real Colgate products for your information. (Read the entry here). How do these people make their choice, I had wondered, and concluded within myself that they didn’t really put their mind to it. They probably just went into the store, picked one out of a hundred beckoning choices, and left. I have discovered how wrong I was in that assumption. A few days before Christmas, Papa Rudy and I had gone to shop for groceries and his wife had stressed more than three times on the phone that what we had to buy for food was small red beans. SMALL RED, she stressed, and I wondered what difference it could make to make such a distinction. When we got to the aisle for vegetables, I found out why. There were green beans, red beans, small red, canned green, baked beans, baked beans in chilli, etc. We got her the small red, but when I ate it later as part of the dinner, I still couldn’t tell what was different about it than the other kind of beans I’d eaten before, so I decided that maybe it was a good idea that women did the cooking in the homes because I could never imagine the kind of argument that might have ensued all night if he had done the cooking with his own preferable choice of beans. For sure, she wouldn’t have liked it.

In the olden days when I used to go shopping at Walmart and Aldi with Reham the Egyptian, I never quite understood why she spent so much time shopping. The pattern always repeated itself: she would agree with me, nodding to my every word right before entering the store, that “at around 5.25pm, we must both be done shopping, and must proceed to check-out no matter what we’re doing, do you understand? The bus to campus is scheduled to be here at 5.30pm and I will hate to miss it. We’re clear, right? Look at your watch, it’s 4.30pm right now,” and she would say “Yes, yes, I understand.” By a quarter to six, when the bus would have long left, leaving us behind, I would be sitting at the exit door, angry and out of my wits, wondering why in the world I had to deserve that kind of torture. She would come out later and say “Oh I’m sorry. What do you want me to do when I couldn’t find what I wanted?” Couldn’t she have just asked an attendant? No, she would rather look at everything, spending quality time to decide if she wanted the extra large, jumbo size or the family size, among many other variables. Hmmm… I don’t have to tell you why it’s been such a long time since we both went out shopping anymore. 🙂

But being such a brisk shopper has not altogether being without its disadvantages for me as well. The first time I made such a brisk purchase was at the Reagan Airport in Washington DC, and I was lucky because it was just for gum – Orbit, I believe. I never even knew until then that there were so many kinds of flavour. I took the one that looked the finest, and regretted it afterwards because it was also the harshest in the mouth, and I had bought three. But I can’t blame brisk shopping for that, since it isn’t possible to have a taste of it beforehand anyway. So far, let me just say that I believe in my guts when it comes to making a choice out of a horde of beckoning options. I may sometimes regret it – as was the case with the impostor potatoes, or the winter jacket I got at Khol’s that almost didn’t fit me again when I got back home – but mostly, I’ve had much success. Even if not, I’d still take that over missing the bus and keeping myself in the harsh evening cold for far longer than necessary.

Take that Reham! 😉 🙂 :D.

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