Soon after I arrived in Croatia, I noticed that most grocery stores had a new (to me at least), very organized way of ensuring that shopping carts were put back in their parking spot. As far as I could see, the only negative was that you had to make sure you had a 2 kuna coin ($0.40 or so) every time you went shopping. Otherwise you would not have the privilege of using a cart during your weekly shopping trip.
But then I visited Hungary. See, for some reason, there are certain grocery products that are less expensive in Hungary than Croatia. So when I dropped my wife off at the train station so she could make her way up to Budapest, I did the shopping before heading back into Croatia.
I'll be honest, I'm not usually the one who grocery shops. When I enter a grocery store, I don't think about getting a cart. Usually my job in grocery stores is to pick something up that my wife forgot, or grab a snack.
Back to Story:
So it wasn't until after I got to the drink section, checked the prices and picked out a few liters worth of drinks that I realized I would need a cart.
Funny thing is, it's stinkin' difficult to get out of a European grocery store if you aren't making a purchase. They have little electronic doors in the check-out lanes that are shut and won't open. The only way to get out of the store is to squeeze past someone who is making a purchase and try to be obvious about the fact that you are not stealing anything. And oh yeah, have I told you how small they make things in Europe?
Once I finally got out of the store, I realized I had no change. I planned on paying for the groceries with a credit card so I didn't have any Hungarian Forints (no they don't use the Euro) yet.
Climax and Resolution:
About the time I start thinking "Why don't I just go back to Croatia and buy my stuff there?" I see a stray shopping cart. "Thank you Mr. or Mrs. Hungarian who didn't care to get your change back!" I say out loud as I run to the cart and proudly strut back inside the store.
Debrief - A pair of suggestions and a justification:
1. Why not create some jobs, Europeans? Hire someone to take the carts back to the store.
2. While I know foreigners are not usually the ones to visit your grocery stores, why not create a coin slot that accepts a variety of coins? That way, even in Croatia, you can take a cart with a 1 or 5 kuna coin.
3. (Not a suggestion). I needed a post. It's been weeks since I've posted anything, months since I've written. Here's an attempt to get back into the primary purpose of this blog in the first place - to tell about my foreign experiences in foreign countries.
So far my series in European Ingenuity has featured 2 brilliant inventions. Sorry Europe, this one gets a thumbs down from me.