We committed our first embarrassing faux-pas the day after we arrived. To the abject horror of the woman on the till in our local supermarket, we tried to tip the teenage ‘bagger’. We stood in a jet-lagged stupor, our hands flapping at our sides, not knowing what to do with ourselves, as she put our shopping into bags for us, diligently separating food/non-food, refrigerated/frozen food and double-bagging our bottles of Californian reds to be extra sure that the bag wouldn’t split and smash our naughty ‘adult beverage’ all over the floor. I appreciated her non-judgmental expression as she packed away my several large boxes of Pretzel Flipz (buy one, get one free, buy two, get two free…the possibility of free Pretzel Flipz is endless).
Please forgive us, we cried, as the poor girl shoed away my handful of dollar bills with a look of panic on her face that told me she’d be in danger of losing her job if anyone thought for an instant she was about to take my greenbacks, we’ve come from a country where the people on the till enjoy seeing how many of your items they can break/bruise/crack by throwing them down to the end of the till as hard and fast as possible, while you try to stuff your 14-items-for-€60 into a bag that you just had to pay 20 cents for at the same time as trying not to get in the way of the previous customer, who is inevitably standing right in your way as they try to retrieve the last few items from their crumpled pile of no-longer-in-pristine-condition shopping, and then try to hand over your hard earned cash whilst simultaneously balancing a week’s worth of shopping on one hip, hoping that your 20 cent bag does not rip because there’s no fucking way you are going to spend another 20 cents on a bag if it does. Forgive us, we cried, we are just dumb forrin-ers who know no better! Oh and on a side note, Pretzel Flipz are more addictive than crack and should be banned.