February 24, 2010
Some Experiences are Not as Nice as Others
I wander around the store looking for a caramelizing mini-blowtorch. After some time, I happily find it. Victory! Now I have something which will tickle David's culinary fancy on our 20-year-meeting-anniversary. He likes making crème brûlée (and other types of custard), and using fire inside the house, to compensate for the fact that we don't currently have a gas stove.
There are lines at all the cash registers, but I shuffle my way to the front of the line in due time, where the cashier asks me with a tired, raised eyebrow whether I realize the blow torch is empty and needs butane gas bought separately. In Swiss-German, of course. Or maybe it's German, because I understand that much. But then she proceeds rapidly to explain where I can find the fuel, and says I could quickly go get it.
At which a lady in line behind me makes an exasperated noise, as I pass her to seek out the needed container. Except I really only understand the word "green" out of the location instructions. I see some green bowls, so I head their direction rather cluelessly, still not so sure the blowtorch actually is empty, and wondering anxiously how mad the people behind me in line will be when I finally return.
I can't find the stuff, and give up in order to finish my original transaction and let the other customers get through the line, thinking I can come back around for a second pass afterwards. But the cashier now informs me that she has suspended my order anyway (the other shoppers have been passing through successfully in the meantime), and it's just over there somewhere (more directions given that I really don't understand, apart from perhaps "down low" and something to do with a lady - of which there are several in the general direction she is pointing). The expression on her face spells out that she doesn't see why I couldn't find it.
I head off again, snag another employee and attempt to communicate what it is I am looking for, but it's her turn to look clueless, until I show her another blowtorch from the shelf and combine this visual aid with more clumsy German words (mixed with the French "crème brûlée" which I feel certain must be an international expression). This woman claims at first that they don't sell the fuel (to which I reply by asking how I'm supposed to use the thing, then?), and then that the gas is already in the device. I ask her if she's sure, and she tries to find confirmation on the packaging. Then she asks ME whether the device is empty - which clearly I don't know and am confused about. Next, she spots the fuel canister on the shelf (down low, yes), and hands it me (so, they DO sell it?). It's only 4 Francs and 30 Rappen, so I take it, just in case.
I get back to the register, excuse myself in front of a fresh crop of strangers, and go back to the front of the line. The cashier now asks me if I was planning to pay by card (or something about a card, anyway). I go into stunned mode, trying to remember where I left the card with which I had been in the middle of paying, way back at the beginning of this débacle. I say yes... and with a critical look, she holds up my card, which I had left in the machine. Her gaze makes me feel like an irresponsible idiot. Or it at least feels like that's what she's trying to convey. Anyway, she hands it back, and we put the payment through.
I leave with my mission accomplished, but a sour aftertaste.
Then there are those other pleasant cashiers who smile.
Post-script a few hours later: the cashier ended up being correct and very helpful in her insistence and information; the other staff person was wrong on both verbal assertions she made, though correct in her choice of canister. There was no fuel pre-loaded in the tool, and the fuel they sold me was the right stuff for the job. I'm thankful for the assistance from both ladies, however belittling and confusing and embarrassing. We ended up with a working blowtorch! David made the ramequins of crème brûlée tonight to chill overnight and torch tomorrow...
February 24, 2010 | Permalink
We just passed the 20th anniversary of beginning to date as well! Happy Anniversary!
Posted by: Mimi | Feb 24, 2010 8:40:54 PM
oh my, does this post ever remind me of many frustrating shopping expeditions in Zurich! I wonder, do I really want to go back to Switzerland? Maybe I still will if David will make me some creme brulee - my favorite dessert ever!
Posted by: Jenny | Feb 25, 2010 4:06:21 AM
Mimi - thanks and congratulations to you as well!
Jenny - Of course he will! Just come on over :-) Anyway, you'll be shopping in French, right? That'll be MUCH easier! :-) I still read all the labels in French - at least I have that option! A blessing.
Posted by: Katherine | Feb 25, 2010 8:26:46 AM