Monday, July 16, 2012

Bea im Wunderland

The supermarket down the street from my flat sells marshmallows prominently displayed just as one approaches the check-out counter.  I think the front of the bags read something like, 'America's No. 1 snack/treat/whatever!'  My first thought was that the shop must cater to No. Americans, and, given the number of (left-over from July 4th) sacks o' marshmallows, the push was on to rid the store of something that no self-respecting Swiss would probably ever consider buying.

Another reason I think that the shop is a haven for 'Amis' would be because on that particular shopping trip a few days back I heard the most No. American English spoken in one place without having been at the Bahnhof.  As we were perusing the wine section a woman behind spoke a rather hurried and unattractive version of 'Entschuldigung'.  I scootched forward and said, 'No problem!' knowing that she would immediately understand me.  She moved on, and began speaking to her child in pram about what they were going to buy while in the store.  It was a running dialogue that I found both amusing and annoying, and it reminded me of the book, 'French Children Don't Throw Food' and what the author thought of both US and UK parenting styles.  The mother seemed to be doing a version of 'narrated play' that could easily be called 'narrated shopping'.

The mother was in a rush, and made mention of the fact that they needed to quickly find what they were after, then dash off home.  I could hear her voice in the aisles as she rushed around filling her trolley.  'We're in a hurry!' 

Before coming home today, I stopped off at another supermarket not far from the flat, but in the opposite direction of the marshmallow-selling one.  As I stood looking at the flat peaches and nectarines I heard a voice behind me say, 'We're just looking for one thing, and then we've got to go!'  I turned to see the same hurried American woman wheeling her child rapidly past on her way to the meat section, her voice trailing behind.  'We don't have much time...!'  It was at that moment that I thought to ask her a question about English-speaking Frauenaertzinnen.  I think that I could successfully have a check-up auf Deutsch, but it would be nice to have an English-speaking option should I decide to go the easy route.  I turned to follow the woman in order to ask her if she could recommend one.  Given that she's wheeling a small child around the supermarkets of Zurich, I should think that she may have some expertise in the area of Frauenaertzinnen who speak English.  Maybe I also wanted to see if I could slow her down a bit.  All this rushing around seemed to run counter to my experience of how most folk go about their business here in Zuerich.  If there were a word in Swiss German for 'chillax', I wouldn't hardly be surprised.

The woman was no where to be found.  In such a small store I could neither see nor hear her.  So strange.  The cashiers all had lines of a few folk each.  How had she left so quickly?  I searched up and down the aisles, but to no avail.  Chatty Woman and child had disappeared.  I had the thought of what Alice's cat, Dinah, might think were I to tell her what had happened in the market.  '...and then she was just gone!  Just like that!'


  1. I know that feeling, being rushed with child in tow. It's frustrating and I tell myself constantly to slow down. Sounds like she needs to take a few deep breaths and do the same :)

  2. Yes, you've hit the nail on the head. A few deep breaths and a slow-it-down pace might just be the ticket. I tell you she was gone in an instant! I really felt like she'd gone down the rabbit hole. :)


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