Since I've been a vagabond for the past six months, I must sadly admit that my cooking skills have gotten a bit rusty. I was certainly spoiled by all of those kind souls who provided meals for us once I became kitchen-less and sold all of my cooking utensils and appliances. It's going to take some time for those culinary cogs in my mind to grind into gear again. Here is a typical conversation preceeding a meal time:
Kevin: I'm hungry. What is there to eat?
Becky: Hmmm...how about...pb&j?
Kevin: (being the sweet, sweet man that he is) Sounds great!
Well, this cannot go on forever. So I take a look around my kitchen to deduce what I need, and two obvious deficiencies stand out to me. One is a water dispenser (like the ones office folk gather around for gossip). Two is a microwave. Great! A plan! So we convince a national friend to accompany us the next day to make these oh-so vital purchases.
Our shopping trip begins around 10 AM. To set the scene: shopping for appliances here is like shopping for running shoes at Fleet Feet or Run Tex & for appliances at Target or Best Buy. Just like when you find a pair of shoes you like, you have to ask the salesman if they have them in your size. So the salesman goes to the back to check for your size. Then they return carrying a box or two (two if they're good at their job and realize that your feet swell when you run so you'll most likely need a size up). What the salesman does not do is simply give you a bothered look and say, "We don't have that." What do you mean you don't have it? It's out here on display. Isn't the very purpose of "display" to show off the products that you have to sell me? Sigh...
Now that you understand what I'm up against here...We head off to store #1 and have a look around. I find a few things I like and am very encouraged. So the conversation goes a little something like this:
Me: "How about this water dispenser?"
My friend translates...
Salesman: "Don't have it"
Me: "Well, what about this one?"
My friend translates again...
Me: "Will you please ask them why they have it on display if they don't have it to sell?!?"
I think she neglected to translate that one for me...
So a bit disgruntled by these deceptive displays, we move onto store #2. Pretty much an identical scenario so we head back to store #1. Only now it's right around lunch time so that makes things interesting...
Me: "Here's a microwave I can live with. Do they have it?"
My friend translates and tells me that they don't have it but are willing to sell me the display. Finally! A break through! (I later find out that it's very rare that they'll sell you the display so this really is good fortune).
I look up and notice an employee is warming up her lunch in one of the display microwaves! How truly odd.
Me: "OK so we'll take the display microwave. But it's got a big scratch on the top. They should give us a discount or something."
My friend haggles with the salesman, who then brings over one of the most rotund Asian people I've yet seen here. He's wearing an official store vest, which obviously makes gives him the authority to offer me a discount of a whopping $1.50!
Another happy employee now has their lunch.
So now I have a microwave with a scratch on it (minus the $1.50 of course). But it doesn't end there! I think the saleslady feels a little sorry for me that my scratch is clearly worth more than a $1.50 so she disappears and comes back with a box. Inside is a plastic bowl with a snap-on lid. A free gift, my friend informs me. Well alright! Now we're talking!
Now the entire display wall of microwaves is being utilized not by one, nor even two but an entire gaggle of salespeople.
But wait...the free gifts don't stop here! She disappears again and appears with another box. It's a microwaveable vegetable tray! It's as if the heavens have opened and living manna has fallen from the sky! If you know me well, then you know how much this gift truly touches my heart. I mean, when my husband can buy me an electric steamer for my birthday back in the States and be lavished with praise and affection, that is certainly a character-discerning moment. As long as I have my steamed veggies, I think I can live just about anywhere.
OK now this place is starting to smell more like a restaraunt than an appliance store!
Again she scampers off and comes back with a box of rice bowls. No, those have a scratch. Off she goes to get another box of rice bowls. No, those are dirty (reason for the dirt forthcoming). So she goes back to get the original box of rice bowls, which are destined to go home with me.
Then she digs through a drawer below her and pulls out two packages. One is an oven mitt. Great. I actually need that. The other is an apron. No thank you, I say. I brought an apron from America that my dear friend Erin made me. Plus I discovered another one in a drawer in my kitchen. And considering that this apron I'm now being offered looks more like a Home Depot apron that anything I'd want to wear while cooking, I find it only appropriate to kindly refuse.
The apron is shoved toward me again.
I nudge it back. Do I really need more junk? I just spend six months purging!
The apron is once again placed in my pile of free goodies.
Another reminder that it's lunch time and I'm getting hungry too. I suppose the apron will be mine. Perhaps one of these employees would like to wear it while they reheat their lunch?
So let's review my spoils: one display microwave with a scratch on the top, $1.50 worth of savings in my pocket due to said scratch, one water dispenser, one plastic bowl with snap lid (which is so happily storing pineapple in my fridge at this very moment), one microwaveable steamer tray (which is already stained from frequent use), one box of rice bowls (still scratched, still in the box), one oven mitt (which has been used as well on non-pb&j days), and one apron (I think that might have made it in the trash...why start collecting junk now?).
One more employee's lunch is finished. I see her open the other box of rice bowls that we refused and sneak one for her own use. I imagine she'll use it and stick it back in the box. So that explains why it's dirty...