I went to the grocery store the other day. Something that is nearly a daily ritual here given the size of our cabinets and of course the fact that it takes 6 times longer to pick things up off the shelves. Mostly this is because I stand there trying to determine what the pictures on the packages are or sometimes as I get more desperate I stare at things thinking perhaps the characters will suddenly make sense and I’ll know what I’m ready. Anyway… I was at the store.
More specifically I was walking down the veggie asile with one ipod headphone in and one out. I could hear people talking, a woman behind me actually, who was of course speaking Japanese. She kept going though with no one responding to her and so finally I realized it was ME she was trying to speak to. I turned around and as it turned out she was giving samples of something in a little white cup.
I smiled when I turned and she took this as an opportunity to launch into her sales pitch… in Japanese. Pouring me a cup of what turned out to be green-tea hot chocolate I took the cup looking, no doubt, like a deer in headlights. But she kept going so I decided rather than have her pitch be in vain I should at least seem like I was getting some of what she was saying. So I started nodding… and saying ‘hai’ (yes) whenever there was a bit of a pause.
This was not a good idea. The hot chocolate was good and I was quickly realizing that soon she was probably going to ask me something that I couldn’t just say yes to. So wrapping things up I tapped the box, gave her a thumbs up and pointed in the direction of the drinks section, said thank you and moved on while she looked at me quite confused.
I’m pretty sure that wasn’t quite what I was going for. In the end I couldn’t find it on the shelves and left 40 minutes later with 3 items in my basket, noodles, a jar of pasta sauce and some little dumpling type things. And that’s a day at the grocery store. Tonight I’m Googling ‘sample etiquette.’