Monday, April 18, 2011

European Ingenuity?

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. 


Erin Wilson said...

They do use these contraptions at one particular american grocery store as well. I have been doing my weekly shopping at this store for about 2 months now and I find myself so frustrated by not having the correct change for the cart. I have had to beg people returning carts to take my 2 dimes and a nickel for their cart because I don't have a quarter. One time I didn't have any change and as I walked up to the carts a very nice woman was putting her cart away and offered it to me. I thought, "how nice" until I awkwardly realized she was waiting for me to give her a quarter that I didn't have in exchange. Good thing their prices can't be beat or I probably wouldn't come back!

Anonymous said...

1. Because,if you hadn't noticed,the shops in Croatia are not that massive like the ones in the USA. Parking lots in the USA are huge,and I guess this makes sense there. Also I think it is more responsible to clean up your own mess. 2.I don't know about it,I guess it has to be something connected to the mechanism inside.

Anonymous said...

And yes,if you don't intend to buy something,why do you enter shop after all? I think that is the logic behind impossibility of getting out and not buying anything.

Milo Wilson said...

I love this blog!