After returning to the States after my initial nine months overseas, my first visit to an American grocery store was totally overwhelming.
I remember thinking to myself,
“You could live without having to shop anywhere else.”
Well, friends, I’m here to tell you that it is not true.
That version of reality was shattered when I recently visited a Super Target outside Atlanta.
I combed the entire store for two items commonly available in Kazakhstan: frozen dough and a cheap plastic tablecloth you can wipe clean.
I asked a sales attendant about the first, and I got the sort of bewildered look to which I’d grown so accustomed in Almaty. It means I’m asking for something they have not heard of before or that is not usually offered for sale.
Sales attendant: I’ve seen that in our bakery before but then they use it themselves….
I was floored. How could frozen pizza dough not be something that is sold in every grocery store in the USA? It is so convenient. So inexpensive. So American.
And as far as cheap, ugly, plastic tablecloths— I could go on and on about their practical uses. They are perfect for crafts. For rolling out pie crusts. Or pizza dough. For turning a wooden table into counter space when preparing a meal.
But no, also not available. All I could find were disposable tablecloths that would be awful to try to clean and were only offered in one (pretty odd) size.
So much for paying $3 a meter and someone cutting it to whatever size I asked for. I had no idea how spoiled I was.
Right now I’m seriously considering asking my husband to bring me back one from Kazakhstan on his next trip. And maybe, while he is at it, about two years’ supply of antibiotics (available for about $20 without a prescription).
But if I’m honest, the thing that makes this post so blog-worthy is the fact that this even happened at all.
And the reason it made my head spin was that I was having a hard time selecting items from the oodles of options available.
I’m used to having about 10 options of bread, five of which I might consider buying. Here there are at least 10 brands and they all have about 100 options.
As far as service, I was a Kroger and I started bagging my own groceries. I wondered why the bags were so awkwardly placed until the clerk said, “Ma’am, I’ve got that for you” and I realized the clerks always bag for customers.
I pinched myself and realized, happily, that this is a place where strangers are friendly.
Which is a way bigger deal than frozen pizza dough…