“You have to go back and have that weighed” she says with a look as though I’ve lost my brain somewhere between where I stand and the back of the line which stretches to rear of the giant supermarket where I stood an hour ago.
I’m lost, I hear the words and though I know Spanish and what these words mean, I’ve no idea the significance. Why would I need to weight my produce before I come to pay for them? That’s what the cashier does, no?
“Not all of them, just these ones,” she states as she arbitrarily splits my pile of fruit and vegetables in half. Lost again, why only those one, do the others weigh themselves? The woman takes pity on me as she realizes I’m foreign and not just clueless (or perhaps both) and it’s explained to me that I must return to where I got all of these items.
I walk back past the line of a thousand Chileans with each one wondering if I’d somehow upset the checkout lady and been sent to the back as punishment. Upon returning to the produce section I see it immediately, the line up to have things weighed. I wait my turn and thankfully the team is efficient as they quickly weigh and label each bag that is set in front of them.
I return to the back of the line which now wishes to snake around the store as if the new iphone just arrived and I contemplate what just took place. I can’t decide if this system is more or less efficient, I suppose the glacial speed checkout line is increased to a snail’s pace which is an improvement. The store now employs several additional people for the sole purpose of putting stickers on little plastic baggies, good for the economy, the street cleaners, and landfill companies. Oh, and I’m now standing next to a rather cute Chilean girl who’s garnered my attention.
We spend the next while chatting in English and Spanish as we close the half marathon distance between us and the checkout counter and suddenly I’m grateful for all that has taken place. That is until simultaneously her family arrives to make things slightly awkward and the cashier manages to spot me with her telescope and signals to me with her light in Morse code that I can come straight to the front.
I’m torn and slightly confused as to what to do, but in true Canadian style I wish not to hold up the line further and concede to the nice lady’s waves for me to return to the front. The line of people become momentarily confused as I strut up to the counter, have I been punished enough? Should he wear a helmet for walking around? No, they realize, I’m just a dumb gringo who’s finally weighed his produce.
Triumphant that I’ve once again managed to shop in a Latin American supermarket, I pack my bag and head for my hostel to fashion myself a meal. I should get a medal for this one.