Monday, October 20, 2008


While shopping at two grocery stores, I was reminded of why we need immigrants--to keep American workers on their toes! The woman had a thick Russian accent and was extremely careful in her job--even fretted a bit about where the other sack of Honey Crisps were which she was sure she'd rung up (I think she wanted to bag them together). I could understand her English--and especially her big smile and helpful demeanor. She told me she was from a tiny area between Poland and Germany. Poland was part of Russia in the 19th century and was only briefly a country in the 20th before Germany invaded in 1939, so I'm sure many Russian nationals lived there. There wasn't time to sort out world events. She wasn't eager for me to practice my Russian--had to move on to the next customer, but that's OK.

At the other store, which usually has very well trained, polite staff, I got a young man about 25 who either hadn't been to bed yet after a big week-end, had rolled out "on the wrong side of bed," as we say, or thinks clerking is beneath him. I had to ask him several times to repeat his question, and then couldn't understand him when he told me the amount (good thing I checked the little digital thingy because he'd morphed the subtotal and the taxable total). There was a 60s Beatles song on the loud speaker, so I said to him, "That song is older than you," and he replied (I think), "Everything they play here is older than me."

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