Thursday, February 10, 2011

Day 18, All apples are not created equal!


The subtleties are around, scattered around much of Ukrainian life. The lingering effects of communism and Soviet-thinking are there if one looks for them. Sometimes they are blindingly evident...such as the need to deregister and reregister addresses when you move. This was a way for the Soviets to keep track of where everyone was and to keep tabs on them. If one moved to a new location back in the cold war, this was done, along with a long approval process to move in the first place. To this day, when we have adopted, we have had to accomplish this task. Another such occurrence is the inability for anyone to make a decision or sign-off on something. Their reasoning is that "it is not allowed" or "my supervisor must do that" when indeed, it is their job to accomplish said task. Heaven forbid if the supervisor is out on a one or two week vacation. That kind of news can stall an adoption quicker than a jackrabbit on a date!

But that's not what I'm writing about today. We haven't experienced any of that on this adoption. All is going smoothly. So what has my dander up you may ask. Nothing really, I'm so thankful to God for helping us and to you for praying for us! I just have an observation to note during this, day 7 of our 10 day wait.

We're talking apples and oranges here! No, not the quip about differences. Really...apples and oranges. Perhaps this discussion will bring forth your observations of how Soviet-thinking still permeates Ukrainian culture. Perhaps we will get some funny comments as well. Sorry, I digress...here's my story.

Two days ago, I was in a well known supermarket here in Kherson. In the produce section of all grocery stores stands a lady next to a scale. You select the fruits or vegetables you want, then you put them in a bag and take them to the lady where she weighs them, puts a bar code with the price on them, and hands them back to you. To us, it seems a ridiculous task to have a person do this when in the US we all have it weighed and priced at the register. But OK, when in Rome! But what if you change your mind, what if you want more or less. What if! Enter my dilemna.

My first selection was Navel oranges. Not knowing why there was two prices on everything, I proceeded to the scale-lady (which she will be known as from this point) to get my selection priced. Once it was done, my young translator friend proceeded to explain to me that the lower price was if I bought 2 or more kilos of fruit. So, I opened the bag, ripped off the bar code and reached for another orange to put me over 2kg. Well, you would have thought I committed treason. Oh, the drama that ensued! Further ranting in Russian occurred when I used an unmanned scale to see if I was over 2kg! Thankfully, I wasn't arrested! But, I did catch the attention of everyone in the produce section. I was the "Stupid Americanski" who wasn't following the fruit rules!

My second selection, which brings me to the main focus of my story, involved some of the most beautiful apples I have ever seen in Ukraine. Now I admit, I'm an apple snob! My apples have to be "just so" for me to eat them. My favorite apples are the small Gala apples that taste like sugar and are so crisp that they snap when you bite into them! I prefer them chilled and fresh off the tree. I'm passionate about Gala apples! I won't eat any other apple! Also, I can't stand a mushy apple, you might as well have shoveled dirt in my mouth, yuck! So, when I saw these apples at the supermarket...in all their perfect "Felix-required" awesomeness, I had to have them! There they were, in the biggest pile right in the center of the produce section in all their splendor! Right next to this pile of beautiful apples was about 3kg of older bruised apples of the same type. I put my best of the best selections in the supermarket approved fruit bag and proceeded to scale-lady. What happened next was bewildering to me!

The produce crowd had dissipated due to the fact that they all wanted to get away from the "Stupid Americanski" without the knowledge of produce protocol. So it was just me and scale-lady. She said something, which of course, I didn't understand and I just stood there. Then she walked away! "Huh, what? Where are you going?" For five minutes I stood there, I think I scratched my head several times, checked out my apples due to the fact they must be full of worms or something, and waited for her to return. When she did, I received another scolding. Let me tell you, people were now avoiding me and the produce section like we were a nuclear reactor at Chernobyl. Just about that time, my translator friend showed back up and he proceeded to tell me the reason for all the angst.

They wouldn't sell the apples to me because they had not been priced by the person who set them out on the previous shift and they wanted the old apples sold first! "Huh, WHAT!!" Here, in the middle of the produce section, was the biggest pile of the most perfect apples ever seen and no one was buying them, because THEY WERE NOT PRICED and you want to SELL the 3kg of old apples first!! YOU'RE KIDDING ME RIGHT? Also, unless the market fluctuates drastically, aren't they the same price as the old apples? I stood there for another five minutes trying to reason with the thinking of scale-lady. I tried another five minutes to buy those apples to no avail. Visions of the soup Nazi from Seinfeld came to mind, "NO APPLES FOR YOU"!

To make matters worse, I went to the same store the next day (yesterday) in hopes of buying those beloved apples. Guess what, all but 5kg of the most ugly, bruised and spotted ones were gone. Seems word got out in the neighborhood that the apples had been priced and the "Stupid Americanski" had left! Last night I dreamt of dancing Gala apples laughing at me, they were singing, "Stupid Amercanski"!

~ Felix ~

11 comments:

Paul and Diana said...

You're exactly right! Experienced your frustration yesterday, but with our adoption process in obtaining necessary "documents". After a lengthy commitee meeting for deciding one step of the adoption approval process, the head of committee was unable to produce the document stating the approval of the committee. Our facilitator spent the entire day camped out in front of her office waiting for the letter. Perhaps today we will get the letter so we can move on to the next step. I hope you get to enjoy those apples.

The Houghtons said...

From one apple snob to the other - I commiserate with you! Some people just don't get it. People like us will go to great lengths to have the perfect apple. What a bummer!

Alan said...

Another old soviet style remnant is the multiple cash registers in some of the shops. For example, at one counter you buy fruit and stand in line there. At another counter, 15 ft. away, you buy meat and pay for it there. Then a different counter you buy personal items, standing in line again. Soviet life must have been a real pleasure. BTW Fujis are my fave.

The McEacherns said...

Grocery store adventures! On our last trip, I'd buy as many bananas as possible in one store visit (despite our being there almost daily) just to avoid the scale lady and the ensuing hassle. At least your paint chip friend was there to console you once you arrived home. And I know you'd rather have apple woes rather than adoption woes!

Conethia and Jim Bob said...

I'm laughing hard!! The whole time you were describing the situation, the soup nazi was in the back of my mind!

Heidi and Felix said...

Sorry Paul & Diana, we've never experienced the "committee" thing in all three of our adoptions. Seems like the SDA and inspector's approval should be all you need! Praying for your quick resolution!

Houghton's, I'm glad someone understands my apple-attitude. Ya know, they just have to be crunchy, sweet and cold, right! :-)

Alan, so true! ANd if one more person cuts in line in front of me, I'm gonna go balistic! So you're a Fuji-man, huh! Intresting! :-)

McEachern's, Heidi would do the same...stock up to avoid confrontation. She will tell ya it is soooo hard to live here when it shouldn't be! And yes, paint chip got an ear, uh something, full that night. By the way, I'm bringing him home this trip!

Conethia, NO GRANNY SMITH FOR YOU!!, lol :-)

Felix

Healy Family said...

Definitely lots of rules! I also got in trouble for trying to weigh my own fruit. I think it was grapefruit I was trying to buy. I also remember learning that you DO NOT hold out your hand to recieve change. You wait until the cashier places it in the plastic tray and THEN you can reach for it. :)

there is a mom and pop grocery near our house and a couple of summers ago they had a big box of gala apples that I am certain were right off the tree as the stem was still attached and the little leaves on the stem were still fresh. they were absolutely THE BEST apples I have ever eaten.

Debora said...

Ohh, we remember our fruit ladies from Odessa. But we never tried putting more in an already-tagged bag. So sorry about the apples--crazy Ukrainskis!!

Stephanie said...

To Paul and Diana - my husband and I also had to have a committee in the town we adopted from. The committee was chaired by the Deputy Mayor of the town, but the paperwork could only be signed by the Mayor. We adopted in December, so the mayor was celebrating some holiday or other and "unavailable". Fortunately, I think someone tracked him down at the party to get the required signature. Hang in there!!!

Felix - I love the story about the grocery store. It brings back so many memories. I never understood the scale ladies (where we were they had a lady to weigh the candy and crackers that are sold in bins as well as the fruit and the cheese/meat). I also didn't understand the little old ladies whose job it was to put crushed coal out to cover the ice and snow on the sidewalks. I am glad they have jobs, though! Just wish Ukraine came with an instruction manual sometimes.

Jefferson Hunt said...

Sorry to laugh at your misery, but I had an experience like that myself. 1. Our translator said she thought life was better under Soviet rule. Really?! I guess when you are guaranteed a life and living and are then thrust into fighting and scrounging for it, maybe.... 2. We often took our son to a place called Kid's Planet. I don't know if that was the real name, but they had video games and lots of playgroundish equipment inside. You were supposed to pay, go to the counter and check you coat and shoes and get socks to put on over your socks, buy tokens, then proceed to the play area. Well, come time to leave, our son did not want to leave yet. We checked in our socks and out our shoes and coat. We called for him, but he wouldn't come. I started to go get him. It was like I had a red laser dot on my forehead. I backed out slowly, but had contaminated the place anyway. So, yea, I know what youare talking about.

Shane said...

Now that's to funny!

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Longmont, Colorado, United States
Heidi loves to play sand volleyball, sail and garden. Felix loves to fly at the local aeroclub, sail and fish.