The Grocery Store

I’ve never been particularly fond of grocery shopping. I don’t know why. Maybe I’ve always just seen it as something tedious that had to be done every now and then, instead of the exciting adventure it could be. Well, no more! Whether or not I want that exciting adventure, it’s eagerly awaiting me each time I set foot in a Finnish grocery store.

I knew some things would be different; that was obvious. But just how different, I could only guess. Would there be some strange vegetable I’d never seen? Would they have what I needed to make salad? Would I be able to tell what things were based solely on the labels’ picture? As for mysterious veggies, I honestly haven’t looked that closely. The salad ingredients were all present, if a bit different than I’m used to (different varieties of lettuce, for example). And so far, the pictures have been representative of the product. The bags of flour, for instance, all have pictures of bread on the front.

Something that never occurred to me was that things that are priced by weight are supposed to be weighed and have a price sticker placed on them by the shopper. Oops. It took me two times of having the cashier mumble something about price, then walk away (supposedly to weigh my produce), before coming back to finish ringing me up. The third time, I was determined to get it right. I knew what needed to be done; now I just had to figure out how to do it.

Bananas. I was picking out bananas when I saw another lady pick a solitary banana (seriously, who does that?), and go over to the scale. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see what she was doing, so I gathered my courage and asked if she could help. After receiving a rather blank stare, I asked if she spoke English. She shook her head no. I think between what must have been my crestfallen face and me helplessly holding up my bunch of bananas, she understood what I needed. She set the bananas on the scale, pressed the number 13 (above the scale is a panel of numbers, ranging from 1 to at least 122. Mysterious.),  and a price sticker magically printed! I said “kiitos” (thank you), and she walked away. But I couldn’t help wondering, why did she press the number 13? I went back to the bananas, and lo and behold, in the bottom right hand corner of the sign, was the number 13. I peeked around at some of the other fruit and veggie signs, and saw their corresponding numbers. It all made sense! Man, did I feel smart!

I’m fairly certain I was glowing with pride by the time I made it to the register. Today would be the first time I didn’t make a cashier mumble and grunt about having to weigh my produce for me. I was truly fitting in. (Look at me, competently grocery shopping! I too, can adult. So much pride.) The cashier rang up my few items, then held up my bagged lettuce and said something in Finnish. “I’m sorry?” My standard response. She replied, “I must go weigh this.” WHAT?! But it’s bagged!! Why would it need to be weighed?? Dang it! There goes my moment of fitting in. The man behind me in line moved all his items (which he’d already placed on the belt) to the next lane over. Really, buddy? At least the cashier was nice about it. Maybe she just wanted an excuse to get up and walk a bit.

So I’ve come to realize that anything without a *barcode* needs to have a price sticker attached. Lesson learned. I’ll do better next time. I relayed this story to the Husband as he was making a salad with said lettuce. He chose that moment to point out that it was, in fact, actually bok choy.

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