Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Invisible customers

It may be unfair but the UK comparison is Kwik Save. If Tesco's has clean aisles and lots of open tills then Kwik Save has shelf stackers who bump into you and only one, rather reluctant, assistant on the single open till. Most supermarkets in Spain are Kwik Save. Día, Aldi, Lidl, Consum, Árbol, HiperBer, Upper - all the same. A bit messy, a bit small. Not invariably but generally. Mercadona is a bit smarter but even there the shelf stackers and floor sweepers expect you to give way to them. The big stores are Carrefour and Eroski - at least around here.

Only Eroski and Carrefour, to my knowledge, have the 10 items or fewer cash desks. Even they only have a couple of cash desks open in the 2pm-5pm afternoon lull in which case the same problem arises as with smaller stores.

Queues are slow. Time saving strategies like having your cash or card ready, preparing your shopping bags or not having a chat about something of great import are not the Spanish way. So, if you just pop into the local supermarket to get a few items it can take a frustrating while. The seasoned Spanish shopper out for only a few things has a strategy. They buy the main items and park their basket in the queue. They anticipate the slowness of the queue and leave it to inch forward whilst they abandon the basket and finish shopping. Of course those last things always take longer than they expect or the queue moves with unusual swiftness and it is soon the basket's turn with no owner present.

I am always the person who arrives at a cash desk to find the queueing basket. Or maybe competing queueing baskets. The way is symbolically blocked. I could step over and ignore the presumption. I usually though stand dutifully behind fretting over the virtual race between the checkout process and the absent shoppers.

It happened today. The absent owner returned just in time. In reality she was two customers as she divided the contents of her basket into two piles. Now where is that coupon? Oh, I probably need some bags. Money? Oh, yes I probably have my purse here somewhere - now where did I leave it? Terrible about that little girl isn't it? Let me see I may have the coppers somewhere.

The Black Cap is too good for 'em I say.

1 comment:

kate lately said...

We love your blog! Read it every time you post!