Monday, September 14, 2009

A Quick Stop

On my home I made a quick stop at the vegetable market, or at least in theory it should have been a quick stop. After all, my purchase was a bag of red peppers off the front display, and I was paying with correct change. However, Rose couldn't be bothered with ringing up my sale since she was much too involved in a discussion with the stock girl. A discussion that I was soon drawn into, and five minutes later I was still standing at the checkout counter--red peppers and money in hand.
I am not complaining. Over the years I have come to expect and accept the social interaction that comes with shopping, and have learned to enjoy these moments. In fact, a few weeks ago in Perth, I was forced to shop at a modern chain store. This is something that I usually try to avoid here in Adelaide, but in Perth it was the only choice in the CBD (central business district). Anyway, at the store they had self-check out, but I kept finding myself drawn to the aisle with a teller. Not because I couldn't figure out the self-check out, gosh even my Father In-law has it down, but because I want that human interaction.
It wasn't always this way. When I first arrived in Spain grocery check out lines used to drive me crazy. For about the first year I would have killed for a self-check out stand. Why did I have to hear about Mari Carmen's Sunday in the campo? Did they really need to know how I planned on preparing the chicken? As time passed I began to feel that my inclusion in these discussions was my informal acceptance into the community. They trusted me enough to share information about themselves, and at the same time were trying to better understand me. Of course they never fully accepted me as a local, and they called me La Americana, but it was nice to feel that I belonged.
Of course things in Adelaide are a bit different, especially since we are in a large city, not a small pueblo. However, I can reflect back over the last year and see how my grocery line interactions have evolved. Jenny has gone from a simple "hello", to a "how was your weekend?" Rose keeps me up on all the local gossip. Even dour Olive, who I have yet to see a smile cross her lips, has gone from the farewell grunt, to an actual "see ya". My quick stop is slowly evolving into a greater sense of community.

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