My metaphorical self-portrait.
the people who run the grocery shops and convenience stores of London are some of the worst shysters i've encountered. in an earlier blog i wrote about how i make a lot of mistakes -- and two of those mistakes had to do with buying goods and getting confused due to shopkeeper's lies (or should i say "lack of specificity on price signage"). today's case in point was me simply trying to buy some frigging orange juice at the shop around the corner.
i walked to the juice section and found very little "real" fruit juices for sale. the section had clearly been wiped clean or maybe not yet stocked for the day. in fact, there was only one type of juice carton on the shelf. it was Tropicana. fine. the sign on the shelf in front of it said "Tropicana 2 for £3" -- which i thought was a good deal. there were only two cartons left on the whole shelf, so i picked them both up and headed for the line, which, of course, was long. i stood in line waiting for the insanely slow Indian woman to ring up newspapers and snack foods and eventually got to the cash register. at which point she rang up my juice. and (drum roll, please) it was NOT two for £3.
i said to her (calmly and quietly, as i have learned to do here in this city that is not mine) that they were on sale two for £3. she said in her thick accent: "No." so i said: "There's a sign right there on the shelf that says it. right there. two for £3." and she said "No. That is for ANOTHER kind of Tropicana juice."
well FUCK ME.
being a terribly principled consumer, i picked up my two cartons of Tropicana juice, put them back on the shelf and found some apple juice instead. it wasn't the kind of juice i went in to buy, but at least it wasn't being falsely advertised as "on sale." i returned to the still-long line and waited, again, to pay for my juice. and it's important for me to point out that my problem isn't the difference of a few nickels and dimes (or pence, as is the case over here) -- i simply didn't want to pay for falsely advertised items -- it's the principle of the thing.
as i left the shop i once again felt like a stranger in a strange land. even worse, that little, tiny experience added to my growing feeling that i have to be constantly on my toes here, lest i get taken by some shady asshole. i now feel that i live in a country with no consumer rights. a place where even large retailers lie, a place where nothing is handled or repaired on time, a place where there is no truth in advertising and a place where everyone cheats and no one bats an eye.
if i sound like a fish out of water today, that's because i AM.
and every time i try to dive in, some jerk-off behind a counter fishes me back out.