Monday, October 22, 2012

Just Went to the Supermarket - Need a Nap

Food shopping in Israel is exhausting.  Every time we go we come back and need to recover.  Not, mind you, when we visit the little store in the 'hood, but when we do the big supermarket shopping that even we empty nesters have to do once in a while.

Here's why this is such a wearying experience:

1.  Organization of the merchandise - I'm sure that in someone's head it makes perfect sense to put the shampoo aisle next to the fresh vegetable aisle, but to then put the body wash aisle waaaaaaay on the other side of the store. In the bigger stores, you could walk for miles (sorry - kilometers) back and forth to get from one part of the paper goods section to the other.

2. What is that? - for us newbies, figuring out what the product is when the label is in Hebrew and there is no pretty picture on the front is unnerving.  I usually pick something up and say, "Hmmm, those words look like they mean confectioner's sugar!  Surely, that is what it is."  And then I get home and realize that I have purchased yet ANOTHER package of regular sugar. We have a lot of regular sugar.

3. People behind the counters - when I see those people I think of a Vincent Price movie with the wind blowing, the sky all dark and stormy, that creepy music, and a big haunted house on top of a hill.  NOOOOO!  I can't speak to them, I have no idea what to ask for! I'll probably end up asking the cheese lady for paper towels.

4. Stuff in the freezer section - since I don't deal with real people, I am left with picking things up from the freezer section.  I can identify chicken pretty well, but with meat you don't always know what you're buying.  They have a number system here and I know an 8 is good, so I buy that.  No idea what it is.  My parents would be mortified.

5. Checkout - first thing they ask you is if you have a club card.  OK, I can handle that.  Then, you have to bag the stuff yourself.  Also not a problem, if not for....dun dun dun.....

6. Hermetically sealed plastic bags - they must hire someone with a twisted sense of humor to purchase the shopping bags to for the store.  These bags are impossible to open.  I am not exaggerating.  TODAY, after almost 10 months here, I figured out the best method for opening them.  I hope you are not eating when you read this, becasue the method is to lick your thumb and forefinger before you open each bag.  This gives you enough grip to open them.  I tried licking just the forefinger (much daintier), but alas it is not enough to do the job. This even grosses me out and it's my fingers.

7. Deforestation - for some reason, in this country where conservation is so important, when you check out of any store, the register generates like 5 feet of paper.  The cashier then sorts these into 3 or 4 different slips and you sign one.  I have no idea what the other ones are - she takes some, she gives me some. 

8. Payment - there is always, always, always a "bargain" at the checkout.  Before your cashier finishes checking you out, she will ask you, with a very serious look, if you want the bargain.  If you don't, she looks off to the side where a Mossad agent is waiting with arms crossed, sunglasses, ear thingy, and gives him an almost imperceptible nod.  He nods back and takes your name down as a "bargain rejecter" and you are marked for life. That last part was a joke. Lighten up, people.

9. The cart - ok, shopping done. Now try wheeling this cart out to your car. Every single shopping cart in Israel veers to the left, so you have to either have someone in front steering or you end up developing impressive biceps. You actually see people walking the cart out by pulling it from the side. Someone once explained to me  the reason for the veering to the left, but it involves wheels, weight, blah blah blah.  Forget it, who cares, it just makes me tired.

So you can see why we need a nap when we come back, right?  Well, gotta go put the groceries away - we are building a new closet just for the sugar.


  1. You don't have reusable shopping bags? Bad Leibtags, bad.

  2. SaraK, of course we have reuable bags - and they stay in the pantry where all good reusable bags live so that we can forget to take them whenever we go out. Sheesh, what do you think we are, stoopid?