Grandmas and Grocery Stores

Grandmas and Grocery Stores

You might have understood from my blog that this expat life has been going on for 27 years. My first move was to Northern Germany. In the beginning one of my fears was of old ladies and grocery carts. Yes, you heard me right… old ladies and grocery carts.

In Farmington Utah, where I grew up, the grocery stores are big, the cashiers are polite, a  boy bags your groceries, brings them to your car and loads them for you.

This was my normal, my life, what I expected. After one visit to the grocery store in Germany I came home unraveled and upset. I had just had my cart rammed, was hissed at, was told I was slow and dumb. For the next two full  months I made my husband go with me.  At the grocery  chain,  Aldi, the cashiers are fast, never bag your groceries, (you bring your own bags), glare at you and the old ladies ram your cart to get to the items on sale and to butt in line ahead of you. Really they do!

My husband patiently explained to me that I needed to learn to politely use my elbows and fit in. These older woman had survived a world war and were fighters. I should understand them but not tolerate their behavior because they expected a fight from me.

What is not in our culture is hard to assimilate. I don’t judge those old ladies. I am not scared and my husband does not go to the grocery store with me unless we have the luxury to go together. The little old ladies in Germany and Aldi cashiers taught me how to bag groceries and ram carts and hiss a few naughty words when necessary. I chuckle now watching my mother-in-law, a war child herself, navigate the grocery stores. She can hiss, ram and butt with expertise. I just stand back and watch in amusement fully understanding the situation.

— Allison Ochs