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Happy accident March 29, 2006

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
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There’s not often much to write home – or here – about when it comes to the daily events that occur either in this flat or within a 500m radius, i.e. the shops. But yesterday, the Russian’s and my world was temporarily shaken by a supermarketing mishap.

I should have known the trip was going to go pear-shaped. I had to linger at the bottle-machine as there was a gaggle – well, OK, two – of children, I think siblings, struggling to cope with the insert-bottle-wait-a-sec-put-in-next-bottle-press-green-knob-get-voucher process. They were aggressively unprepossessing children. One, of indeterminate sex, was at an especially annoying age – 13, say – where it understood that it was annoying and it had become its life mission to annoy as much as possible. I’m not sure if this is an apocryphal embellishment on my part, but I’ve got a feeling there was even deliberate and unnecessary burping. There was definitely – no denying it – an unnatural hair colour. The younger child, and putative younger brother, was showing signs of preparing to display equal unprepossessingness within a matter of months.

“Nee-naw, nee-naw,” all of a sudden went the bottle-machine. The youngsters had managed to make the alarm go off. The alarm! The tannoy rang out for a member of staff to get to the machine ASAP. A harassed and annoyed-looking young lady appeared with an unnaturally large bunch of keys, did some fiddling, and made the siren stop. I shifted closer to the machine, showing the youngsters I was slightly bored of their display, all the time trying to transmit, with disparaging looks, that they shouldn’t be imbibing so much liquid sugar. They resumed their insertions. All seemed to be going to plan, but one bottle was being evasive. It kept popping back out. The unprepossessing child of indeterminate sex tried everything to get those last 15 cents. He/she turned the bottle over so that the barcode would be easier for the barcode-reader to read. But back out it popped. He/she then kissed the bottle, as a gambler might kiss his betting ticket, and tried again. “Nee-naw, nee-naw.” The youngish personified scowl reappeared. We all clearly blamed the youth of today for making the machine nee-naw twice. I could see disapproving looks from various German pensioners. I lingered further. The Russian looked on impatiently.

The younger of the unprepossessing children ushered me forwards for me to have a go instead. I grunted gratitude. Inserted my bottle. “Nee-naw, nee-naw.” The shame! The shame! The clanking scowl appeared again, looking daggers at the youngsters, but softened slightly when she realised it was me doing the hooliganising. She repaired the error, I got my voucher, and the Russian and I could at last get on our shopping way.

It was a major shoppery. Everything needed to be stocked up on. Our fridge looked as if it was part of a news report from some war-torn nation where the residents of a house had had to make a hasty escape. Not a sausage. The fates had conspired to make all the cleaning items end simultaneously. We needed the works. I even had the fun of grinding coffee-beans at the coffee-grinding machine (thankfully in full working order). We trawled our way heroically round, trolley groaning under the weight of comestibles. But the supermarket-design god rewarded us with the temptation of the wine-counter just before the checkout. What a good bit of design. We lingered here longer than elsewhere, wondering whether to go New World or stick with the frogs. Or what about the Italians or Spaniards? (I’m secretly always gagging for Spanish, but rarely get my way.) Out of Slavic solidarity, we cast a glance at the Bulgarians. The Hungarians, Greeks and Romanians were, it goes without saying, dismissed out of hand. “Hm, there seems to be a new lot of Chianti. Shall we go for it?” The Russian decisively put a bottle of the new Chianti in the trolley – having glanced at the price tag (which isn’t on the bottle, like in some suburban off-licence, but slid into that plasticky thing on the front of the shelf) – and rolled onwards. (He was paying. I caved into authority.)

We got to the till. “Fuck, only the horrible old bag’s on duty,” we exclaimed. “We can’t afford her thieving tactics AGAIN. And the unprepossessing children have got a year’s worth of Fanta to go on the conveyer. Fuck…” Thankfully, the nice, early middle-aged cashier dashed to her till at just that moment and we avoided the old bag with happy alacrity. The nice, early middle-aged cashier chatted away to us. Neither of us understood a word of her Berlin dialect, obv, but we played along and tittered here and there and articulated very clear hellos and goodbyes. We trundled on to the final stage of the shoppery. The Russian packed. I scanned the receipt, looking for signs of theft. “Milen’kii (darling), the wine cost * euros!” Twice as much as we’d thought, and twice as much as we’d normally pay. My internal organs leapt for joy, both that the Russian had been made to part with more money than he intended and at the thought of us having accidentally posh wine. The Russian resigned himself to defeat at the hands of incorrectly placed bits of plastic and, I’m guessing, noted the occasion in his shopping-incident arsenal for when I next dared raise the issue of how much something cost on a shoppery.

So, anyway, how was the twice-as-expensive-as-usual wine? Twice as good? Dunno. But certainly not bad. But the thing is, whatever it’s got in it has hit a spot. Both the Russian and I are OBSCENELY inundated with work and haven’t done anything festive for about 3 millennia. At least. And all of a sudden, at 8-something pm, the Russian pipes up, “Let’s go to the cinema.” I dashed to see what was on at the local Russian cinema. Some Georgian pants from the 80s. “Let’s go and see the film about the gay cowboys.” So we will. The second I’ve finished this post, and polished off the remainder of the twice-as-expensive-as-usual Chianti, it’s off to Bareback Mountain, as Berlin queens (or at least the ones I know, all hailing from the former Soviet Union) are so hilariously calling it. Anyway, I’m anticipating the film will be utter pus but GOING OUT ON THE TOWN. Imagine.

Purchase beyond your means, boys and girls. It’s the way forward.

Comments»

1. Amy - March 30, 2006

Ah, the scowlings of German supermarket cashiers… I once forgot to weigh some courgettes (admittedly very stupid of me) and got scowled and herrumphed at mightily. And then charged three times the correct amount for it, which I assumed was the accepted punishment. I wanted a “tute” too but the whole transaction was over far too quickly…

2. Mark Holland - March 30, 2006

So how was it?

Wie Sprachen Sie zu hause?

3. BiB - March 30, 2006

Mark, instead of the Bareback Mountain I wrote here, I was actually thinking of Fudgepack Mountain, which I’d seen over chez toi.

Do you know, I was pleasantly surprised. The only other gay blockbuster I’ve seen was Philadelphia, which was unspeakable, execrable pus. Both the ex and I were longing for Tom Hanks to hurry up and fucking die so we could get out of there. Antonio Banderas appeared for about half a second in that film. I think the opera scene was meant to be his relationship. Whereas at least these two seemed to love each other. I thought the Australian was awfully good. I couldn’t understand a word he said, of course, but subtitles saved the day! Alberta’s stunning beauty helped. (Did your tour of the US – did you make it as far as Canada? – take in some similarly awesome sights?)

Or did you mean the accidentally posh wine? It was one-and-a-half times better than normal, but no way twice.

Wir sprechen immer russisch, but when I feel the need to raise my voice, I tend to slip into English. Everyday words – bills, money, that kind of thing – are German. They don’t deserve translation, perhaps.

Amy… Ah, yes, the joys of German customer service. It’s a real surprise, isn’t it? I thought Germany would be all plastic smiles and ‘have a nice day’. Instead, it’s bollockings when they see you want to pay with a card. The horror! Were you in the West or the East?

4. Geoff - March 30, 2006

Couldn’t understand the Australian? You’re not the only one:

http://glitterforbrains.blogspot.com/2006/02/glitter-for-brains-at-movies-brokeback.html

& yes, it was a much more meaningful gay relationshop than in most mainstream gay-themed films. Philadelphia was atrocious.

5. you know who - March 30, 2006

Instead, it’s bollockings when they see you want to pay with a card.

Ich finde “Ah, sie möchten mit Karte zahlen”, oder, wenn man noch unfreundlicher sein möchte, “Hmm. Mit Karte also” immer praktisch. Mit Kreditkarten kann man immer sehr lang die Unterschriften vergleichen (sie sind öfters völlig anders) und dann ein Ausweis verlangen. Macht immer Spaß.

6. daggi - March 30, 2006

I once had an American bloke (I mean, at the till) who wanted to pay with a credit card. Where “Authorised Signature – Not Valid Unless Signed” was printed was a ‘signature’ written in the most childish marker-pen writing I had ever seen which read “See I.D. See ID”. So I asked him (in English) why it wasn’t signed and that I couldn’t accept a card without a proper signature on it, and he pretended not to understand me. After some umming and ahing in German, I asked him again in English, and he finally realised that I wasn’t someone trying out their bad English with him, I was in fact English. “That’s notmal in the US”. Whatever (as I believe they like to say ‘over the pond’). I told him that if he had signed with “See I.D. See ID” I would have accepted it, but the scribble he had done on the receipt did indeed look like something resembling a ‘normal’ signature. “Have you got a passport with you?” No, he hadn’t. Then he whipped out a plastic card which looked as realistic as some Monopoly money. It was apparently a driving licence. The design had clearly been done on Microsoft Word, and indeed, some of the text had been done in my favourite font, “Comic Sans”. (My boss’s favourite font, incidentally). A very badly (and very small) scanned in picture, which may have been the person in front of me, and a stars-and-stripes. No signature, mind you. My boss told me to accept it. I think she was swayed by the font.

In Britain, if you turn cards down because you think they’re spurious, you get money (30 quid a go I think) from the banks for your “help in helping to stamp out cheque card fraud”. Here, you get ‘training’ in the same thing, but when push comes to shove, the (abusive) customer is always right. It’s not as if I really care, do I, it’s just that I don’t want the hassle if the card is rejected/the banknotes are fake etc. Some kind of financial reward to “care” would be nice, though.

7. daggi - March 30, 2006

Anyway, why didn’t you go to “mad boy”‘s till? Or have they sacked him? I went especially to Kaiser’s in the Arcaden the other week, and unfortunately he wasn’t anywhere to be seen (or heard).

8. daggi - March 30, 2006

Google says:

Suche nach: “Fugdepack Mountain”. Es gab keine Ergebnisse für die ausgewählte(n) Sprache(n). Meinten Sie: “Fluggepäck Mountain”?”

9. daggi - March 30, 2006

Wtf:
“Ergebnisse 1 – 10 von ungefähr 122 Seiten auf Deutsch für “Fluggepäck Mountain” . (0,18 Sekunden) “

10. Amy - March 30, 2006

I was in Weimar – it was really still quite Eastern when I was there but I think it’s had a bit of a leap forward since I’ve moved back over here! I loved it – chocolate for 45 pf. Fantastic!

11. BiB - March 30, 2006

You Know Who, you naughty shopper-torturer! (Tut mir Leid. Zu dumm, auf Deutsch zu reagieren.) I haven’t been in a customer service role for a hundred years, thankfully, so I suppose I’ve lost the sympathy with the staff I must have had back then.

Daggi, I wasn’t at Kaiser’s, leider. Kaiser’s is for really special occasions, and when we both have more than one second of free time, which is all the Russian and I have had since Christmas, it seems. If I’m not rolling soon, I’ll be livid. Or dead.

Geoff, top review. (I’m recommending it onwards.)

Amy, as a middle-aged queen, I now have a life-rule that choc/sweets/biscuits and cheese have to be avoided. Booze and fags have no limits placed upon them, though.

12. Mark Holland - March 31, 2006

BIB,

Glad you enjoyed it.

The credit/blame for “fudgepack mountain” belongs to Emily at It comes in pints?

13. pleite - December 30, 2006

Bareback seems to have won out over fudgepack on the gay street!


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