Friday, October 12, 2007

A Proper Tea

Thankfully, work was much less stressful today. I'd made 8 pages of flashcards with the codes on the back, so I can master the produce pricing, but it wasn't going well. This weighed on my mind as I trudged to work this afternoon.

The only lady over 30 at the shop was working with me today, she told me her name is Sharon, or "Shaz." She is very nice, but kind of bitter. After hearing my accent, she asked me where I was from and I gave her the run-down of what I'm doing in the UK. I asked her if she was from the area and her reply was "Born and bred. But I hate it here and would do anything to escape." Taken back a bit, I asked where she'd escape to. "Anywhere." "Would you stay in England?" "Never." But all in all she was very pleasant. And there seemed to be a funny flirtation between her and the assistant manager, Andy. They play jokes and pick at each other, its kind of like being in high school. In fact, when Shaz was on break, Andy approached me and asked where Karen was. Thinking I was misunderstanding his accent, I asked "Sharon?" "No, Karen, the other girl who works here." At which I blushed bright red and exclaimed, "Oh no, I thought she said Sharon, I've been calling her Sharon all afternoon! And Shaz!" He laughed and said "well she'd never correct you, she's too polite." I was soooo embarrassed and started to say something to her when she came back from break, but she stopped me and said that this was a joke Andy told everyone, and that half the customers now call her Karen. We decided to call him Adam for the rest of the day.

The codes are coming along better. I did overcharge like five people for their potatoes, but I am getting better. Not bad for two days. I've discovered that a sense of humor goes a long way. This seems obvious, but its hard to step back from a stressful situation and just laugh. This afternoon an old man went off on me when I called his cabbage "lettuce." He was remarking loudly to everyone in the line that I didn't know what cabbage was, and that I worked in a grocery store! How absurd! The gentlemen seemed genuinely offended by this fact, so I deadpanned and explained that we don't eat vegetables in America. At the mention of the US his whole demeanor changed from cranky old man to curious neighbor. After asking me all the standard questions (during which time I was able to find the code for his particular type of cabbage) he wished me luck and left happily with his groceries. The novelty of being a foreigner will carry me far, I think.

And as I sat in the Market Square on my "tea break" watching the generations doing their shopping and socializing, people from many different countries meeting and greeting, I have to say I felt oddly at home.

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