Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Cashier Nazi Strikes Again

The neverending saga of the Billa grocery store continues. Today we had a 'great' interaction.

The woman in front of me decided that she didnt want any cardboard boxes in her sack so she proceeded to take out the Swiffer pads and put them in a fruit plastic bag...she did the same with her pre-packaged fake croissants, etc. Then she asked the cashier to throw away all the cardboard. As she was standing there taking her time to pack, the cashier asked her neighbor cashier for two 5 euro bills in exchange for a 10. Then she started checking my groceries.

Now keep in mind, the total conveyor belt for each line is about 3 feet long...there is barely enough room for your own groceries, let alone when the person before you is still sacking theres and the cashier is shoving yours in with the bunch. The cardboard lady drops her bag of oranges and starts pushing me and my cart around so that she can get them. I am trying to keep my groceries separated from hers so she doesnt accidently pack them. Basically, it was chaos.

My bill comes to 15.78 euro. I give her a 50 (which is just asking for trouble, I know) and with one hand on my wallet, I turn it over into the other hand and pour out the change in hopes of getting her some coins. I hold out my hand for her take the 80 cents and she tells me my hand is too high up and she refuses to reach for it. Trust me, my hand was well below her eye level. With a heavy sigh, I put the coins on the counter for her to take them and then use my free hand to start packing my groceries. (By the way, this is the cashier that has repeatedly tried to overcharge me, so we already have a history together--no love lost here).

I am thinking we are great. She needs to give me 35 euro and 2 cents in change and I am outta there. Except that she saw I also had a 5 euro bill (I hate how they are always looking in your wallet). She wanted me to give her the 5 euro bill so she would give me 2 twenty bills back (and the 2 cents). I told her no. I knew she had 2 5 euro bills that I just saw her change and I could see she had a drawer full of 1 euro and 2 euro coins. There was plenty for her to make change for me. And how long does she expect to go without getting more change from the office anyway....this is the part that boggles the mind. If you are low on change, you ask your boss and you change for a 100, right?

Well, needless to say she was less than pleased with my response. She starts telling me she cant make change for the 50 and she has seen my 5, blah blah blah. I tell her I have seen her 5 also and she can give it to me. (Now, why I did this is beyond me....I wasnt looking to pick a fight but when she did the whole bit about not being able to see the coins in my hand, I lost all decorum--who knew I was so close to the edge!). She starts talking to the fellow cashier to tell her to tell me in English that she needs my 5. I tell her I dont need her to tell me in English. Then she starts talking to the lady behind me in line about dumb Americans who come here and cant speak the language and dont know how to do anything, blah blah , blah....I look at her with my most evil look, and tell her that I understand her completely. She was a bit surprised, I will have to say but it wasnt enough for her to give in.

In the end, I threw the 5 euro at her and she commented about how rude I was. They already think Americans are loud and rude in general, so be it far from me to disappoint her. I got my change, walked away biting my tongue and then watched her lean over to the next cashier again and get more change from her!!!!!!!!!!! She did it for spite!

Well, God bless her....I hope she sleeps better tonight knowing that she got the upper hand with another foreigner. I will deal with my guilt for my behavior and do my best to not stir the pot again, but somehow or other, I am pretty sure this isnt the last of these experiences for me and Billa.


Imani said...

Hey, Spike...I just don't get what's up with the making change deal in Italy. Your post is hilarious. I can so picture the scene having had similar experiences there myself.

In the end, you proved to be the better person though I,not being a better person, wouldn't have given in. Probably would have torn my 5 euro bill in half right in front of her face. :-)

Anonymous said...

oooo..that sounds frustrating!

Monica said...

hey susan!!! why do u keep on going to billa? isn't coop at fondamenta nove closer and cheaper?? i know venetians are sooooooooooooo rude!!! but there are not only rude venetians!!! ;)
about the change: no you don't ask your boss to change your money if you don't have it anymore. He gives you coins in the morning or sometimes once a week!!! this is not a reason to be rude with people anyway!!! so go to the coop supermarket, ok??

Gil said...

This change thing seems to happen all over Italy. The banks and the ATMs give you big bills and the merchants never want to change them. My wife used to shop at some store that never had pennies and the cashier always nailed her for one or two cents.

We have friends that run a bar and are always looking for the exact change. God forbid that you let them see or hear (jingle) that you have coins the wife insists that I give her all of the small change. For the last two summers I asked her if she wanted me to get her change as I was going to the bank in town and cash in some US dollars and she outright said no. If we go back this July I am going to ask her husband or daughter to explain this change thing.