Return PolishForums LIVE
  PolishForums Archive :
Archives - 2005-2009 / Life  % width 136

A trip to a Polish supermarket


gtd 3 | 639  
9 Nov 2008 /  #1
This one is more for the expats living in Poland. I am sure it will sound familiar.

So as I enter my local Albert's (yeah I know it is Carre Four now but I resist change) I nodded to the friendly (ok not really) security guy standing by the door in full tactical gear including vest, handcuffs and baton (I guess his submachinegun was in for service). Though I knew it was pointless I looked in the rack for the shopping baskets by the door but as usual it is empty and all 700 baskets in the store are piled up under the kasas where you cant get to them without pushing through a queue of 30 people. So I decide to go light and see what I can manage to balance in my hands.

As I make my way through the aisles admiring all the rotten fruit and wilted vegetables I start getting a craving for my favorite canned peaches. Every week for the last month and a half they have been out of stock but continued to mock me with the little price tag and empty space on the shelf. As I rounded the corner a warm light shone from above like in one of those religious movies and underneath it sat ONE can of peaches...ONE. After a month and a half it seems they were not able to manage a full restock of peaches. Now if I wanted papaya there were about 50 cans available as usual. I guess Poles love peaches and hate papaya. So counting my blessings I snag the peaches and move on.

I seem to always have a problem getting bread. I never shop early enough to get anything decent. By the time I get there all that is left are a couple hard as rock baguettes, some stale razowy bricks suitable for masonry, and several dozen of those little round rolls with the nuts all over them that nobody ever buys....oh well I can live without bread...as usual.

I pick up a few more small things but between the guy driving the cleaning zamboni around trying to take my feet out and the old ladies packing off all the produce to the back about two hours before closing it seems most of my plans had been foiled for the evening. (see where I come from they actually wait until closing time to clean and put everything away...but not here...oh no not in Poland)

After I choose which queue I would prefer to wait 30 minutes in I start watching the fellow shoppers to pass the time. There is the old homeless guy buying his two beers with a handful of change, the classic mom buying 6 liters of milk..4 heads of cabbage..a 5kg bag of sausages..a packet of Vegeta and a crossword book, the teen girls all talking on their phones while somehow simultaneously talking to each other as well...they are buying gum and cigarettes, the super hot dressed to kill 35yo woman with a family pack of toilet paper and a box of laxatives, and the foreign businessmen in suits all carrying a couple liters of hard liquor each presumably for a wild night back at the hotel.

When I am next in line and thinking it is almost over the lady in front of me decides she is not happy that the cabbage is 3gr more per kg than she thought. This starts a 5 minute argument between her and the 16yo kasa girl who looks irritated that she is even alive to suffer this indignity...oh the trials of life. So after finally agreeing on a price, rather than giving the girl the amount due that is CLEARLY showing on the register she thrusts out her hand full of various coins and expects the kasa girl to pick through it and choose the proper amount...and she does. I guess it is expecting too much of citizens to count change in this harsh world.

FINALLY it is my turn. I get my second wind and as I am trying to keep up with bagging my things so that I don't get behind and have to try and pay over the shoulder of the guy behind me whilst his things come barreling down into a pile on top of mine. The next interaction is I am sure familiar:

Kasa Girl: "46.61zl"
Me: Hand her a 50zl bill
Kasa Girl: Do you have 6.61?
Me: Shake head no
Kasa Girl: Scowls at me for a few seconds and then says "Maybe 1.61?"
Me: Shake head no
Kasa Girl : Scowls just a bit longer this time then says ".61?"
Me: Shake head no yet again.
Kasa Girl: Scowls even longer...sighs theatrically and then kind of lobs my change at me half of which lands in the little tray and half of which goes onto the floor.

So after recovering my money and finally getting on my way I once again nod to the SWAT team member stationed by the door and head home. This time I make it home without one of the super thin (no longer gratis) bags tearing and dumping my things on the ground. Now I am sitting here with my feet up and enjoying the fruits of my labor in a Jednodniowy Sok Marchewkowy and a sandwich.

Thus ends a tale of supermarket adventure. I hope you enjoyed it...and I hope you didn't have any post traumatic stress flashbacks as a result.

Cheers.
dcchris 8 | 432  
9 Nov 2008 /  #2
i used to live over there and know that place oh so well. good to see things havent changed. I would advise going a bit farther to the fresh market behind hala mirowska. ok the selection isnt as grand especially this time of year but the people are nice. afternoon is a good time after the old folks and before they close. its not a one stop shop but its good. i try and eat seasonal and thats what they carry. whats in season. there is a bakery where the lady nicely helps me with my polish. otherwise wola park hypermarket
OP gtd 3 | 639  
9 Nov 2008 /  #3
I am too lazy to go that far for food. I can only be bothered to go within a few blocks. Both of those places are a bit of a hump for me....
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
9 Nov 2008 /  #4
Good 2 c that I'm not the only edgy one at the cashier. I hate when sb starts to pack behind me. I like my space and I sometimes feel like they are encroaching on it.
dcchris 8 | 432  
9 Nov 2008 /  #5
i did see one guy run from the shop with a bag full of groceries he had stolen. the security guy didnt even chase him. what is their job exactly then?
OP gtd 3 | 639  
9 Nov 2008 /  #6
I think they are like a lot of jobs here nobody ever sees do anything...left over from communist times when they made jobs for everyone even if it wasn't necessary. The guy I see the most there even wears sandals with his tactical gear...I bet he can run fast in those. Sometimes I like to look suspicious...stare at them until they look at me then look down..do that a few times then suddenly move to another aisle...they try to nonchalantly move to where they can see you and then you jump back out of sight. Ok I know it's mean but I only do it to the ones who are nasty to people quite often ;)
dcchris 8 | 432  
9 Nov 2008 /  #7
funny in that shop i used to follow the security guys around after they started following me. that really confused them
OP gtd 3 | 639  
9 Nov 2008 /  #8
I can see we are very mature adults...messing with the poor ochrona guys.
Grzegorz_ 51 | 6,163  
9 Nov 2008 /  #9
I think they are like a lot of jobs here nobody ever sees do anything...left over from communist times

It's the 90's invention. In commie times there was hardly anything to steal in the shops.
polishcanuck 7 | 462  
9 Nov 2008 /  #10
After I choose which queue I would prefer to wait 30 minutes

This is by far the worst, for me at least. Do they know what customer service means?
welshguyinpola 23 | 463  
9 Nov 2008 /  #11
Have u noticed that these guys are all old as well and wouldnt fare very well if they had to chase somebody.

In my local cash and carry they even have one of these guys emplyed to stamp ur recipt as you leave, kitted out in full military regalia
Matyjasz 2 | 1,544  
9 Nov 2008 /  #12
That made me giggle. :)
Bzibzioh  
9 Nov 2008 /  #13
[shopping baskets] So I decide to go light and see what I can manage to balance in my hands.

Wow, what a colossal improvement right there. When I went to Poland 12 years ago I committed a crime apparently by absent-mindedly stepping into the store without a shopping basket (damn those stupid useless western habits :)). The security guy came over and said that I have to leave immediately or he will escort me out. I answered him in English and he folded but it was really big dill back then. So I'm glad it's a not a crime punished by law anymore
twojdupa - | 22  
9 Nov 2008 /  #14
i feel cheated , never had such a lousy experience, yes in some of the supermarket chains the vegetables leave a lot to be desired but there are som many fresh vegetable kiosks that doesnt bother me, my wifes family seem to pick a shop because it has best meat/bread for certain time then after few months its a different one, bread bought in local baker gorgeous fresh like france has to be eaten in a day, not like uk which will last 9 days with all preservatives, queues are good and sometimes when feeling really evil i like to let somebody before me when i have laden trolley, causes no end of confusion.

2002 i shopped on my own not with a trolley but using the stores pallet truck to buy drink for my wedding i think my wife and family thought it would be a good test of a) my patience b) my resoursfulness. thankfully i passed ... just!

customer service? am i only the only one to remember spar or coop i dont remember anybody who smiles much when working at the till where ever they may be.

just smile and be friendly its worth it for the confusion it causes , although they probably think british w**ker.... :)
PolskaDoll 28 | 2,105  
9 Nov 2008 /  #15
not like uk which will last 9 days with all preservatives,

How many preservatives do you think are in bread that has a sell by date of Oct 2009 like I found in my work today? I prefer to buy fresh bread that only lasts a couple of days.
JustysiaS 13 | 2,240  
9 Nov 2008 /  #16
When I went to Poland 12 years ago I committed a crime apparently by absent-mindedly stepping into the store without a shopping basket (damn those stupid useless western habits :)). The security guy came over and said that I have to leave immediately or he will escort me out.

yeah i remember that, not so long ago you were not allowed to get into a store without a basket. that stupid security guard obviously had nothing better to do cos it's not a crime. they probably thought that you weren't gonna buy anything if you don't have a basket ha ha. i hate those stupid security guards in Polish supermarkets. i was in Biedronka once and i put a few things in my basket, went to the till and just before i was about to get served i put one thing on the side cos i thought i didnt want it anymore. i packed my stuff into my bag and was just about to leave when this idiot security guy told me to follow him to this room (zaplecze lol) i was like why and he said no questions follow me. so i did and i asked what's this all about and he said he saw the contents off my basket before i went to the till and one thing was missing (so i probably nicked it). i told him i put it away and he can go and check, so he did and came back with the slimiest smile on his face telling me he was sorry. i was furious, so humiliating! i haven't gone to that shop for over a year after that incident ha ha.
twojdupa - | 22  
9 Nov 2008 /  #17
ha ha must admit never seen anything like that, when i was single i would have bought it in a flash, now id get a slapped ear for glancing at it, sure it was supposed to be oct 2008.

i used to buy fresh bread and rolls every morning sweet heaven but then i just had to walk downstairs to the shops, now not so easy,
OP gtd 3 | 639  
9 Nov 2008 /  #18
i packed my stuff into my bag and was just about to leave when this idiot security guy told me to follow him to this room (zaplecze lol) i was like why and he said no questions follow me. so i did and i asked what's this all about and he said he saw the contents off my basket before i went to the till and one thing was missing (so i probably nicked it). i told him i put it away and he can go and check, so he did and came back with the slimiest smile on his face telling me he was sorry. i was furious, so humiliating! i haven't gone to that shop for over a year after that incident ha ha.

Tell them to get bent and call the police if they have a problem. They are not police and cannot legally detain you to my knowledge...people just do it as they are afraid.
JustysiaS 13 | 2,240  
9 Nov 2008 /  #19
that was 6 yrs ago, i was quite afraid and didn't want a scene. that pr*ck still works there today, he's pathetic.
PolskaDoll 28 | 2,105  
9 Nov 2008 /  #20
ha ha must admit never seen anything like that, when i was single i would have bought it in a flash, now id get a slapped ear for glancing at it, sure it was supposed to be oct 2008.

No, it's Oct 2009 without a doubt. Other breads have Nov 2009 so I asked our chef and he said it was something about long-lasting (freezable or something) and should remain fresh, when unopened, for a year. Worries me that.

In the bigger stores in Poland is it normal to have 23 checkouts but only ever about 7 in operation (like it is here)?
OP gtd 3 | 639  
9 Nov 2008 /  #21
that was 6 yrs ago, i was quite afraid and didn't want a scene. that pr*ck still works there today, he's pathetic.

Yeah I have been stopped at the Empik beeping gates a time or three for a bag check and didn't really put up much of a fight so I was just talking tough ;) But if one of them decided to grab me or something I would not be pleased and depending on if they were a frail old man who's arse I could kick or if they were one of those steroid filled monsters with arms bigger than my legs I MIGHT bust some faces or run away screaming like a girl.

Now that I mentioned it however I would like to know what the laws are on them putting hands on you. In the US they can only follow you and point you out to the Police but can't touch you legally. I have seem them grab a person or two here so I am assuming they have looser laws?

I sure wouldn't follow a guy into a back room...not a good idea for a girl especially...no witnesses.
JustysiaS 13 | 2,240  
9 Nov 2008 /  #22
In the bigger stores in Poland is it normal to have 23 checkouts but only ever about 7 in operation (like it is here)?

depends on the time of the day, but i gotta say that when there is loads of people around all the tills will be opened. it's not like in tescos in uk when they frantically start ringing a lil bell when they see that quite a large queue forming. tescos, out of all the supermarkets in uk, in my opinion is the worst. and i hate the self check out tills, they are always broken!
Wroclaw 44 | 5,387  
9 Nov 2008 /  #23
In the bigger stores in Poland is it normal to have 23 checkouts but only ever about 7 in operation (like it is here)?

not normal at all. if there are as few as twenty or thirty customers than there will only be one checkout open.
PolskaDoll 28 | 2,105  
9 Nov 2008 /  #24
depends on the time of the day, but i gotta say that when there is loads of people around all the tills will be opened. it's not like in tescos in uk when they frantically start ringing a lil bell when they see that quite a large queue forming. tescos, out of all the supermarkets in uk, in my opinion is the worst. and i hate the self check out tills, they are always broken!

Self-checkouts - I won't have anything to do with them. Either it won't eat your notes or it won't accept your card or it breaks down half way through scanning your products. My local store removed them.

Tescos here (for me) seems to be the one with most tills open and in the others there are queues. I was in another supermarket on Friday in a giant queue and they put out a tannoy message listing about 8 names to come to the checkouts urgently and open up...I still waited 20 minutes, no one appeared that I could see...(PD is having a rant! ;)

not normal at all.

Good, somewhere has it right at least.
OP gtd 3 | 639  
9 Nov 2008 /  #25
not normal at all. if there are as few as twenty or thirty customers than there will only be one checkout open.

Yesterday apparently I was assigned 'last guy in line duty' and I guess it was my job to tell everyone that came behind me the kasa was closing. Well I didn't know this was my obligation because she just yelled something unintelligible at me when I first came up. So as people naturally flock to the shortest line she is telling them it's closed one after the other and then scolds me for not doing my civic duty and keeping the way clear. I am a failure at 'last man in line'.

The truth is I have no interest in repeating over and over to each of the 50 people that come up while I am waiting that the kasa is closing. Not my job...and I am just not that sociable. The side effect of that is by the time I got to her she was right miffed at me and I think overcharged me...unless a bag of apples and a liter of water normally costs 50pln??

Anyway....I hate shopping.
PolskaDoll 28 | 2,105  
9 Nov 2008 /  #26
Don't they have a little sign that they ask you to place after your shopping saying "till closed"? (or in Polish).
JustysiaS 13 | 2,240  
9 Nov 2008 /  #27
Now that I mentioned it however I would like to know what the laws are on them putting hands on you. In the US they can only follow you and point you out to the Police but can't touch you legally. I have seem them grab a person or two here so I am assuming they have looser laws?

i dunno about that, we were stopped maybe a couple of times at tescos in Poland but they checked our receipt and the contents of the trolley and it was fine, no touching. i have noticed that at larger supermarkets or media markt they check your receipt BEFORE you approach the gates. weird. but then when you go shopping here in UK and the gates start beeping the shop assistants don't bother to go check it out (if there's no security guard working there). they say just go, it's broken ha ha. those gates sometimes beep when you get IN to the shop ha ha. it's also funny how in UK when you bleep at the gates there is a message that you might have a label on your shopping that wasnt scanned/removed, and in Poland they instantly treat you like a thief!

I sure wouldn't follow a guy into a back room...not a good idea for a girl especially...no witnesses.

that biedronka is in my hometown in Poland, everybody knows everybody so he sure wouldn't try anything stupid. it was just embarassing that's all.
miranda  
9 Nov 2008 /  #28
the change issues drives me crazy. I see nothing has changed. I used to say NO just to make their life more miserable.
OP gtd 3 | 639  
9 Nov 2008 /  #29
Don't they have a little sign that they ask you to place after your shopping saying "till closed"? (or in Polish).

No they just shaft it off on an unwitting customer to be the 'sign' or else yell at everyone. I would hate that job too but I swear that they recruit the b1tchiest women in Poland for the positions.

the change issues drives me crazy. I see nothing has changed. I used to say NO just to make their life more miserable.

Yeah I have to be honest and say that even if I do have change I always say no just to get up their noses.
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
9 Nov 2008 /  #30
It seems to be a one-way process. U ask them for some coins and they just grunt. I'm usually pretty cooperative and offer to whip out the groszy to simplify things.

Archives - 2005-2009 / Life / A trip to a Polish supermarketArchived