Perhaps you have fond memories of going up and down the isles of Target with the laser gun adding items to a registry for your baby shower, wedding, or anniversary. Grocery shopping in The Netherlands calls that experience to mind.
For the expat with limited Dutch, using the laser scanner for each food item, bagging it right at that moment in your cart (since you have to bag yourself anyway), and paying at a self-check out is quite fun. My children vie for the power of the scanner which takes tops over pushing the cart any day. This is an Albert Heijn experience.
Not too long ago, I was distracted by my explanation to Lil’ Man for why we were buying the cheaper store brand frozen pizza instead of the expensive one labeled “American Pizza.” Thus, I neglected to scan my last purchase.
As providence would have it, my cart was chosen for the random scan test by a cashier. I was so embarrassed that I had neglected to ring an item up. I chattered with my children about distracting Mommy (totally not their fault which I also told them) while the woman re-scanned every item and found the missing frozen pizza.
Only wishing to get away from the shameful experience, I high-tailed it out the door—having left one large bag of groceries (equivalent to at least 2 US-sized paper bags full) behind. Because the family unloads the car and we all put items away together, the lost bag wasn’t noted till 2 days later.
When I returned to the grocery service desk and explained, the woman behind the counter (a different one, thank goodness) knew exactly what had happened. They had returned every item to the shelves, carefully made a handwritten note of each brand, size, etc. This lady procured my actual bag (an unusual one I purchased in England) from a closet and took it through the store essentially re-doing my shopping for me with the handwritten list.
They were all so kind and understanding about everything from the initial incident to handing over my bulging sack. I knew I had to blog about my golly good Dutch grocery.
Kristin King is an author, speaker and co-founder of the nonprofit Future Hope Africa. For the record, Kristin has never tried to steal something from a store since she was five years old and was caught red-handed with one piece of bubble gum and then forced to return it with an apology to the store keeper who gave her the gum anyway.