Sunday, May 1, 2011

Every day's an apocalyptic stock-up day at the Saudi grocer.

Last night, the Mister and I were able to finally go grocery shopping. We divided the grocery list and conquered the Lulu.

Ok, that's a bit of an overstatement because NO BODY conquers the Lulu. No body.

As we were unpacking our groceries I made the comment to the hubsy that grocery shopping in the fully-developed world will be really bizarre once we arrive back in the States. I've become so Saudi-ized that I mow old ladies down, step over small children, push my way into lines and cut in between people's conversations like American me would never dream of doing at home! It's survival of the fittest in a Saudi grocery store. Kill or be killed.

The hubbins laughed and said, "You'll never have to act like that in a grocery store in the States because it's never that crowded." And he had a point.

To say that the typical Saudi grocery store is crowded doesn't quite do it justice. Unfortunately, I'm too timid to take photos or video inside the store. So let me try to describe it accurately:

You know the pre-snowstorm rush on the Krogers or Publix that inevitably happen as soon as the Southern weatherman announces a few inches of snow? It's like that. But more crowded, and with stocked shelves, and EVERY DAY.

For any readers who live in places that actually have winter, the pre-snowstorm rush is when everyone sends at least one family member out to the local Kroger (or grocery store of your choice) to get non-perishable items and the staples that would be needed should any of the following happen: power failure, getting snowed in, or school is cancelled (which means a house full of hungry kids). That means the bread and milk aisles are a wasteland, and the lines at the cashier lanes are miles long.

Now, take that scenario, but include EVERY member of the large Saudi, Indian, or Pakistani family, increase the grocery cart size, and feed the kids a truck load of sugar before they arrive and you've got a rough idea of what grocery shopping in Saudi Arabia is like. Every. day.

It's a massive test of my patience. It's a miracle I haven't snapped at any unruly children. Last night, as we were waiting to check out, the Mister tapped my shoulder and directed my attention at a little boy in too-large hand-me-down pants who was totally laid out, on his stomach, LICKING THE FLOOR and scrubbing the nasty tile grout with his finger nail.

American me would have gagged instantly.

Saudi me just rolled my eyes and sighed.

CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT!? I just rolled my eyes and sighed as everyone else stepped over or around the child.

Where was his mom? I dunno. American me would have told him to stop licking the disgusting grocery store floor and helped him find his mom. Saudi me just chuckles and taps her foot impatiently until it's her turn at the cashier counter.

I can only pray that these changes are easily reversible. Otherwise it's going to be a really awkward summer.

Vicariously yours,

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