I was reading one of Geraldine’s Uk magazines this morning ( in my defense the internet was down again, the rain was coming down in stair rods and my Kindle was recharging).
It was an article about supermarkets ( UK variety) and the question was what do you do when you are at the check out with a long line behind you and several of your purchases have gone through when you realise you have forgotten a key item that you really need.
1) go through the checkout process, pay, deliver the shopping to the car and then go back into the supermarket and buy the item hoping express is fairly quiet
2) Smack you head and announce to the queue what you have done and rush madly off to get the item, returning with lots of apologies and much arm waiving or
3)Ask the checkout girl if she could get someone to get the item while you continue with the check out.
As I pondered my reply to this all important question plumping for 1 as I am a coward and couldn’t face the angry remarks and looks. I realised that this would not be an article that an Italian magazine would write because there would not be a choice of answers at all.
The italian shopper has sorted this problem out already and every person and family has the same solution.
The family shopping together which is how most Italians prefer to shop anyway give the trolley to the grandmother she with the slight stoop the slightly gammy leg and the sad eyes. Family memebers are set items to get and fan out through the aisles to do this. La nonna meanwhile walks slowly but purposefully towards the nearest check out station that is manned.
There she gets into the queue and slowly advances forward. I, seeing a dear old lady with almost nothing in her trolley leap in behind her and congratulate myself on doing so well. out of here in minutes I think to myself.. Like parent birds feeding their young the other family members come to the trolley and drop items into the trolley and then fan back out to collect more stuff. The queue moves forward and eventually the Nonna is at the checkout counter and starts to unload her stuff very very slowly. I am right behind her now fuming of course and she gives me a slight smile and clutches her back lest I say something nasty. As she unloads so the family continue to deliver stuff. It is now that the mother and father arrive normally ladened with yet more goods . Mother is there to check that everything that she wanted has been bought and father is there because he will pay in cash for the goods. I can count on one hand the number of people I have seen in the supermarket pay by credit card since we came here. A quick check by Mum reveals a few missing items and the kids are dispatched to get them. The checkout girl sits there looking disinterested, I stand with steam coming out of my ears and behind me everyone else is doing what the family in front of me is doing.
The kids return and the payment process starts. However Mum now notices that a few items have been slipped into the bags that were not on her list. the kids have been adding sweets and toys. The process stops again while the checkout girl deletes the items stacks them to one side and starts the laborious process of refunding the money. I have aged 20 years ( if that is possible ) and am again vowing never to darken Auchan’s doors again when I finally get to checkout myself.
Single Italians shopping do better than this. They deposit the trolley at checkout and then hit the store and return slowly filling it up . once they are down to say 5 or 6 articles they still require they move the trolley into the queue and move forward until they are at the checkout. once the first item has gone through they set off around the store collecting the remaining articles and return to pay and bag their goods.
Like the UK however the actual paying seems to come as an huge surprise to most of the people. The checkout presents the bill and the realisation now finally crosses their face that they need to find an handbag. then they need to find a purse and the cash ( always) to pay for it. Cash means they can be really helpful by giving the exact change but that of course requires them to fish through the entire contents of their bag to find that last few cents .
Boy shopping is fun in Italy.
The whole family gather around the trolley