Thursday, January 20, 2005

The grocery shopping rant

This rant has been in my mind for ,well, two years now, and it's about time I legitimized it by putting it into words so here goes:

I fucking HATE grocery shopping here in Norway.

There, I said it, now may the Grocery Store Powers That Be get off their asses and listen the hell up! (Here is a link to a Norwegian website comparing prices at some of the big grocery chains. Divide any price by about 6.2 for dollars. Notice how all the prices are pretty much the same wherever you go? The selection is exactly the same too.)

I have posted previously about the wierdness of grocery shopping here. That was a humorous post about chicken and how buying it can be kind of freaky.

I did not mention the expense of shopping, the rudeness of the employees at the stores, the lack of choice, the horrendous lack of customer service interaction, and the antiquated, 1950's Soviet style grocery stores we are faced with every day. God it sucks ass. The bummer of it is, I used to love buying food in the States. I loved walking up and down the aisles, looking at all the stuff for sale, imagining the recipes and meals I could make, and sometimes just wondering what the hell something is for. I still do that here and when I travel, but now I just wonder how the hell it can be so expensive, and, admittedly, still wonder what alot of it is for. A can of "flesh and beans?" Yuck!

It all starts with parking. You never get to park near the store, and if you do, you have to pay for the privilege. Would you pay to park at Safeway? I bet not. I put my car in the nearest likely spot, making sure to arm the alarm as the damn thing has already been broken into three times, and head in to the store. To get a basket, you have to pay a ten kroner (about $1.50) deposit, which consists of putting a 10 kroner (and ONLY a 10 kroner) coin into a little thingy that releases the basket from the chain. I never have a 10 kroner coin, so end up taking a hand basket, which, shockingly, is free. I enter thru the little gate into the store. They all have gates, like a Disney ride or something.

I start choosing my items. There is not much choice, it's all very minimal. Some stores pride themselves on having an "extensive import section", but honestly, how much Old El Paso can you buy?
I need eggs, I get 6 for $3.00.
A packet of grated cheese, $5.00.
Some Philly Light spread, $4.25.
A can of Campbell's tomato soup, $3.00.
A small frozen lasagna, serves two small eaters or one big one, like my husband, $6.95.
Toilet paper, a six pack, $5.00.
Three ounces of thinly sliced deli chicken, $3.45.
Milk, $1.50 per litre, which is about $6.00 a gallon.
"Tortilla chips", $4.00.
A small whole chicken for roasting, 2 lbs or one kilo, $15.00.
Yes you did read that right, $15 for a 2 lb. scrawny assed chicken.
Baked beans, 2 bucks a can.
A small bag of salad mix, $4.00.
A pound of roma tomatoes, $6.00.
Beer, the cheapest canned beer you can get, though it is actually fairly decent, 20 nok per can, which adds up to $19. per six pack, plus another 50 cents per can for "pant" or can deposit. Beer can cost much much more, a can of Guinness or Boddingtons will set you back $4.50.

After mentally pissing away my life savings on food, I go to pay. The guy at the cash register roughly tosses my choices down the chute, which has this sliding mechanism that divides it in two for two customers. The cashiers fully enjoy using your bread or chips as the fulcrum for pushing the milk and canned goods down towards the "bagging" end. After ringing your stuff thru, he asks if you want a bag. I am always tempted to say "Nah, I'll just shove it all up my ass, thanks, I don't need a bag". What the hell is he thinking? Of COURSE I need a bag. He pulls two bags (even though I asked for three!) out of the bag lock box, or whatever it is called, and charges me for them. Yes, we pay for the bags. Like they can't afford to give me two stinking bags after I just gave them the equivalent of my mortgage payment for cheese and chicken?

I run madly to the end of the line and start chucking my stuff in the bags. He is already checking out the next customer, and it is to my distinct advantage to pack my stuff as fast as possible before he moves the sliding thing over to accomodate the next check out victim, as that slidy thing invariable acts like a trash masher and mangles everything I have now just paid my weight in gold for. I truly hate this part, it makes me mad every time. There is no one to bag your stuff for you, and they would laugh at you if you asked for help. No carry out either. Even the old folks with canes get no help. My bags weigh about 20 lbs each and are seriously overloaded, since butthead would not give me three. I carry my six pack of toilet paper under my arm. You see that alot, there is no shame publicly admitting that yes, you wipe your ass.

I waddle out of the store and back to my car, where, frequently, I have a parking ticket for over staying my time. Yeah, a parking ticket in a grocery store parking lot. Bugger hell and damnation. *&^$%#@!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I always come home in a cranky mood.

Is it any wonder that now, when I go back to the US, I weep in the fozen food aisles and get on my hands and knees and worship the produce section at the Wal-Mart Super Store in my parents small Missouri town? (And yes, I never did like Wal Mart and even now try not to shop there.) That one crappy Wal Mart would blow the minds of every Norwegian who ever existed.

1 comment:

  1. howdy! a bit late, but i just found this post & it had me in stiches - as a "texpatriate" living in japan, i can really identify with the expense and annoyances of grocery shopping! thanks :-)


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