Thursday, April 25, 2013

Grocery Store Frowns, Security Guards, and Exact Change

This is not a frowning service-lady. This is Vova picking out  his snack for the trai.

Service in Russia is... interesting. I'm referring to check-out ladies and the servers at restaurants. Whereas, in America, they are trained to be highly personal and make you feel lovely, the Russian service industry glares at you like they're actually annoyed that you're there. And this isn't just because I'm American – they glare before they could even have an idea that I am. They frown at everyone.

At the grocery store, they hope that you'll have exact change. You may be within a dollar of the given amount and they'll still ask you for smaller bills. If you don't have it, once again, they'll sort of stare at you like your a nuisance. That's like if something was $1.75 in America and you paid $2 and the check-out lady just looked pissed off the entire time as she asked, “Don't you have something smaller?”

Everyone frowns. The people working at the metro. The policemen. The checkout counter folks. The security folks.

Oh! Security!

That's one crazy thing about shopping here, each store has a couple security guards that watch everyone. This morning I went to the shop at 8 AM (Starbucks was still closed). There was a security guard outside of the store, one just inside, and two wandering about. This is in addition to all of the people running the shop. I guess thievery is a problem in Russia and that's the best way for them to prevent it. It's fun being followed around while you're trying to figure out what bread is the best... Imagine going to Safeway and having a security guard follow you around. Imagine every door was guarded. Imagine you could go through the entire checkout procedure without the lady ever making eye contact with you, using your name, or even wishing you a good day.

That's just the way it is here.

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