There are lots of things that I know I’m good at. But today I gained appreciation for something that it turns out I was good at, but didn’t realize. I used to be really good at grocery shopping. I could go in, take an efficient route through the store, shop for the best deal, manage the self-checkout line and get out quickly — with Benjamin or Liam, and usually without a meltdown from any of us. I never really realized that this was something to be proud of until I learned something else today: I am NOT as good at grocery shopping in Austria.
It wasn’t a complete disaster. We did come away with groceries. We even purchased about 75% of what was on our list. It wasn’t efficient. It wasn’t elegant. It wasn’t fast. There was a lot of confusion and even some tears (fortunately, the latter were from Benjamin and Liam only). We took the stroller, which didn’t fit down most of the aisles. I ended up purchasing some kind of baby cereal (which is NOT oatmeal) that is labelled with a word that doesn’t exist anywhere other than the box I purchased. We struggled to find any kind of mustard, and I purchased powdered sugar instead of regular sugar. But I braved the deli counter rather than settling for pre-packaged ham. (This caused a great deal of confusion, because I wasn’t prepared to say anything other than the weight and name of what I wanted, and when presented with a more detailed question by the woman behind the counter, I could only repeat my request.) I asked for ham, and I could swear she was telling me I wanted bacon (turns out she was asking if I wanted baked ham, which I think is what she gave me after several repetitions of the only phrase I had memorized) and I ended up getting about twice what we really needed, because we’re still not great at the kg/pound mental conversions. I also think I accidentally cut in line in front of someone else who had been waiting.
But none of that is really the point. So far, this is the thing that we’ve done that is the most “living here” vs. “visiting here”. When you visit, you don’t brave the market for staples (at least, not with the sense of resolute determination that we did today). We did it. We bought food and ate lunch. We got our 1/2 kg of schinken, and we even managed to pay and bag our own groceries — all in a store where I don’t think a single person spoke English. It’s quite an accomplishment. So, although I’m definitely better at grocery shopping back home, it turns out we’re not so bad at doing it here, either.