The Mexigonia Weekly

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Not Just a Trip to the Supermarket

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Elizabeth and Brady hopped into the car and headed to the supermarket for what they thought would be an easy and uncomplicated grocery run.

They started driving, and as they neared the store they approached a roundabout complete with traffic light and speed bump.

“I understand how each individually controls the flow of traffic but I’m not sure what they accomplish all together,” Elizabeth pondered as they wondered whether to obey the light, or standard rules of a roundabout.

“Confusion! You have to go slow because you’re not really sure what’s going on, so I guess it does control the flow of traffic,” Brady answered.

They pulled into the parking lot and tried to find a space.  To their dismay, the design of the parking lot allowed for only one lane of traffic around corners, not enough spaces, random pillars blocking spots, cones reserving spots for who-knows-who, and tight spaces requiring k-turns to get in or out.  With the car finally parked, Brady and Elizabeth headed inside, carrying their empty water jug to return for a full one.  (Tap water is not potable.)

“I have to leave my purse in a locker, so you go return our water bottle and I’ll meet you by the bread,” Elizabeth told Brady as she headed to the lockers where you have to store any bag you brought in so as not to shoplift.

Brady went to the station to exchange his empty water jug for a ticket to get a new one.  “This bottle is too damaged, we won’t take it back,” the employee told Brady.

“I just bought it here a few days ago, it looks exactly the same!” Brady said, starting to get frustrated.

“I’m sorry, call the company and maybe they can exchange a new one for you,” the worker replied.  So Brady looked at the jug; three different numbers to call.  He called one, not a real number.  He called the second one: disconnected.  He called the third one: does not exist.

“Great,” Brady said as he stored the jug in the locker with Elizabeth’s purse and walked into the store.

The Mexigonians walked around the store, stocking up on food.  They came across a shelf full of baking pans with bright signs accompanying them.  “Excuse me, what does this sign mean, is there a sale?” Elizabeth asked an employee passing by.

“Oh, this shouldn’t be here, everything is the normal price,” the woman said as she pulled the sign down and walked away.  Elizabeth and Brady looked around, but there weren’t any “normal prices” listed either.

“Oh look, gravy is cheap, only 7 Bs. (Bolivianos),” Brady commented as they picked up a package of instant gravy.

“Look what the ‘American’ section has: Chef Boyardee, mac and cheese, and Manwich.  What a great impression we make!” Elizabeth added sarcastically as they continued walking around.

“I need a new toothbrush,” Elizabeth commented.  “Why are they kept behind a counter?” she wondered as she spoke to the woman behind the counter to pick out a toothbrush from afar.  “A $2 toothbrush is locked up but a $20 bottle of liquor is on the bottom shelf over there where a two-year-old could get it?” Elizabeth told Brady as she got her ticket for a toothbrush.

“Ok, let’s check out,” Brady said, and they picked the shortest check-out line.  The two shoppers pulled in behind another loaded cart and began unloading their items onto the conveyor belt.

“Excuse me,” the shopper ahead said as he started pushing his empty cart back out of the lane toward Elizabeth and Brady.  They stopped unloading their things, pulled their cart out so that he could back his cart out of the aisle.  Apparently the check-out lane is not quite wide enough for the cart to be pulled through.  As the man pushed his cart out, Elizabeth noticed a sea of rejected carts in front of the check-out aisles just piling up after each shopper.  Brady and Elizabeth soon added their own cart to the growing population.

They put their groceries on the belt and gave the cashier their identification numbers so their purchases could be registered with Big Brother and watched the cashier ring up the items.

“Wait, the price tag on the gravy says 7Bs. and it rung up as 12Bs.,” Brady notified the cashier.

“Oh, well this price tag is old,” the cashier explained.

“Well it says 7Bs. so we should get it for 7Bs.  It’s not our fault that the tag is old,” Brady added, the frustration continuing to grow inside of him.

“But the computer is correct when it rings up, so you don’t have to worry, it’s the correct price,” the cashier explained, seemingly confused why we were so upset.

“But it’s misleading,” Elizabeth added, trying to clarify their discontent.  “Why don’t you just label everything 7Bs. and ring the items up as 100 anyway?”

“I don’t know,” the cashier noted, not sure whether it was a rhetorical question or not.

“Ok, fine, here is my ticket for the toothbrush,” Elizabeth said as she handed over her ticket.

“Ok, someone will bring that over right away,” the cashier said as she handed the ticket to a boy who ran off to retrieve the item.

After a few minutes of waiting for the toothbrush, Elizabeth started to grow anxious, still confused as to why a $2 toothbrush is kept behind bars.  “While we’re waiting for the toothbrush, you can just ring up the $40 bottle of whisky and the rat poison, which don’t need tickets.”

“What?” the cashier asked, obviously lost by the comment.

“Nothing,” Elizabeth said, ready to go home.

“Ok, that will be 334.60 Bs. (about $48),” the cashier informed.  Elizabeth gave her 340 Bs.

“Don’t you have exact change?” the woman asked Elizabeth.

“No, we don’t,” Elizabeth said, still amazed at how no one has change.

“Maybe he does,” the woman said, motioning toward Brady.

“No,” Elizabeth replied.

The woman let out a sigh and gave Elizabeth 5Bs. and a piece of candy as change.

“Let’s go!” Elizabeth and Brady thought as they finally left the check-out.  They put their items in a new cart that was already outside the check-out lane and headed to the lockers to retrieve their rejected jug and purse.  They piled the groceries in the car and after 10 minutes of k-turns and careful maneuvering they were on their way home.

The two Mexigonians were exhausted from such a frustrating experience, which should have been a fairly simple task.  At least they enjoyed a wonderful meal thanks to Bolivia’s fresh vegetables, hormone- and grease-free meat, and inexpensive produce items.  They made their own steak dinner complete with sides and dessert for under $3 a plate.  Not too bad.  Was it worth it? Maybe.

Last Updated on Monday, 11 February 2013 23:56