Yes, this is about a supermarket.
I can recall meeting Carrefour when I was in Dubai. I thought it was disorganised and messy and made no sense. Little did I know that this was not the case.
In Beijing, there is a Carrefour is very close to where I live, so naturally I started shopping there. Or tried to. This place is pandemonium. On the weekend it gets worse. Let me try and paint a picture. The upper level is full of everything from the latest iPhone to bicycles to cutlery sold by the piece, which is where my lovely collection come from.
Side story: I had a marvelous time trying to buy bed sheets. I wanted a flat and a a fitted, but after me and about three shop assistants miming (you try mime ‘sheet’) and pointing and using translators on the phone (sheet has far too many meanings to translate well!) we finally all had a moment of realisation and the woman who handed me the one flat sheet was congratulated by us all. I then decided that it would be just too hard to find (no English on the packaging and the pictures … not always do they represent what is in the package) so I said “Er?” which is “Two?” And the lovely woman went and got me another. The two sheets do not match, but they are very functional and I shall never get rid of them. Don’t even ask how I managed to mime “big, king size”…
Then you come down this escalator that has small products piled up on either side. Things like wet wipes or packets of kimchi or popcorn or meat snacks and other things that I am yet to make sense of. You arrive in the alcohol and coffee section. They, for some reason, go together. Then everything breaks down and people are spruiking products everywhere and each spruiker has a microphone on like Madonna and they are YELLING about their wares. It is like they are trying to outdo each other. And they say the same thing over and over again. If it weren’t for the fact that 17 people on one little area were all shouting about their product, I might learn some Chinese!
Then you get to the fruit and vege section, the meat and fish section and the bakery section – all thrown in together at the end of the market. And if you thought the spruikers were competitive in the groceries section, it is positively war like in the fresh produce. The man who sells on type of fish that he fillets and does whatever else you want to it has no microphone, not does he need one, he shouts, he winks, she smiles, he shakes his fist at people, he laughs, he shows his wares like a beautiful game-show host.
But the noise! And I thought Beijing was quiet…
Then you get to the checkouts. And you have to line up way down the isle. Usually there are about 15 people in front of you. But this is at every checkout:
“If there are 4 customers waiting before you, please press the button. … Reduce your waiting time by every second in cashier line. … It is our commitment.”
And this is what is looks like at the checkouts:
And then there is the music. The same muzac piece played on an infinity loop. It never, ever stops. I can sing it. I don’t want to, but I can.