Thursday, July 22, 2004

Shopping (Paris IV)

I am at one of my favorite supermarkets near Paris, an immense temple to food and consumption. The lines are long and progressing slowly. The line I'm in is advertised as the "special pregnant women" line but there is a guy behind me so I figure that the rule is not enforced too strictly. How would they know anyway?
After almost 10 minutes waiting, I am finally unloading my shopping basket while the woman at the cashier is ringing the purchase of the customer in front of me. She is picking the groceries one by one, put them in front of the codebar reader and I hear her commenting on the purchases. Two bags of processed cheese don't pass her test. She calls her friend at the nearby cash register and shows her the bags with a large smile "Did you see this? It's processed cheese in plastic bags!" I look up to see the reaction of the customer being scrutinized this way. She is silent. I don't recall ever witnessing this before but I doubt that this is a new French custom.
The cashier keeps going on with her comments. She seems to approve of the crème fraiche, of the pizza crust and the shampoo that come after the processed cheese. She is done, gets the money from the customer who had stayed completely silent during the whole episode. It's my turn. I realize with some surprise that I am now apprehensive in anticipation of her comments.
Will she approve of all the chocolate, the cookies, the crèmes desserts, and all the food I try when I get back home?
She focuses immediately on the chocolate, takes one bar and acts as if she is going to open it and eat it. I smile but say nothing: After all I passed the test of her approval.


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