Sunday, March 9, 2014

Grocery shopping

Grocery shopping has never been one of my favorite chores.  Even in America, I always put off going grocery shopping.  I've always hated navigating the crowded aisles with huge carts everywhere.  Then there's the whole spending money part which I also don't particularly care for.

Although grocery shopping is no long the daunting task it was when I first moved to Korea, largely on account of the fact where I know where everything I need is now, it is still a chore I simply detest.

Don't get me wrong, I love Homeplus.  It's no Target, but it's definitely the best substitute for it.  However, just about every time I go into Homeplus on a Sunday afternoon I end up getting incredibly frustrated.  One of the differences between America and Korea is the whole concept of personal space.  That is, it just doesn't really exist in Korea.  I guess it makes sense for a country with such a high population density, but when you're shopping it means that people have no problem bumping into you, or just leaving you with no breathing room whatsoever.

This couldn't be more evident than at checkout time.  In America, we of course have baggers at grocery stores who nicely put all of our things into bags for us.  Once all your things are put into your bags and back into your cart, the next person gets his or her turn.

Now, in my mind, this is a great system.  No one is rushed and your things usually end up in a somewhat logical position in your bags.

Of course, this is NOT how it works in Korea.  In Korea, there is no person to bag your groceries.  Ok, that's fine. I can totally live with bagging my own things.  However, the part that drives me absolutely crazy is how as you put your things in your bags there is already someone standing right next to you.  It's like they push you out of the way before you even pay.  And once you have paid--well, you better watch out.  You better bet that the next person's items will be scanned regardless of whether or not you've put all your things into your bags.  And that person who has been standing next to you the whole time will REALLY be pushing you out of the way now.

I should mention that the Korean people don't think they are being rude by doing this.  It's just the way things are in Korea.  Likewise, when someone bumps into you they won't say sorry.  Although we consider that rude, that custom just doesn't exist in Korea.

This may seem like a small thing, but it is something that has bothered me literally every week I have gone grocery shopping.  Sometimes it really is the small, mundane things that remind you that you're actually living in another country with a very different culture.

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