Thursday, 3 March 2011

Are you being served?

0930 In the shower. Squeeze out the last breathe of life from my two-in-one shampoo and conditioner. Determine to venture forth and buy some more as soon as I am dressed.

0940 Scrutinize blotchy red face in the mirror. Curse the dryness of the water. Curse nearby bar of soap. Curse my lack of foresight for not bringing any form of facewash with me. Add facewash to my (growing) mental list of cosmetic necessities.

1000 Ipod and wallet in hand (well, in bag), venture down the main shopping street about 4 blocks from the apartment. Wander indecisively into 2 or 3 pharmacies and wander out again when I realise they don't have any items on the shelves to browse, just people behind counters to consult (about medicines, presumably).

1015 Enter 3 or 4 more customer-friendly pharmacies and proceed to the Skincare section. Think to self that this area of Santiago is by no means lacking in Pharmacies.

1016 I am in need of facewash, facial moisturizer and body cream, the last of which appears to be in amply available. The first two not so much. Leave the 4th pharmacy after searching high and low for some form of facial cleanser to no avail. Mental note to self: pay closer attention to the female Chilean complexion to see how this lack of facewash-readiness is paying off.

1040 Encounter large and amply stocked "Farm├ícia Ahumada" and proceed to the skincare aisle. Do a happy dance and let out what I think is a small squeal but measuring by the altitude of nearby cleaning-lady's jump is probably more of  piercing shriek. Mental note to self: Personal volume seems to increase when listening to music on Ipod. Eye nearby shopper with an intention to rugby tackle should they attempt to reach for the (last and only) tube of St Ives Apricot Facial Scrub with Minerals and Exfoliants sitting on the shelf.

1043 Pick up shampoo, cream and all the rest. Spot Nivea cream with built-in sun block. Add it to bundle and proceed to the counter.

1045 Note that there seems to be no queue. Stand a meter away from the long counter (manned by around 4 people in smart white coats). Wait.

1046 The man to my right finishes serving a lady and flashes me a smile. I step toward him when out of nowhere another middle aged lady with a bar of soap overtakes me and is attended to by this very same man. Stare in confusion. Think "How Rude!"

1048 Stare in even more confusion as the same thing happens again.

1050 And again. (each time with a different person, just to clarify)

1059 Note that these customers seem to be appearing in order, with steady frequency. Note that as soon as an attendant is free, a customer is served. Think "Conspiracy!". Think "Madness!". Think "Discrimination!" on racial, gender or being-foreign grounds.

1107 Approach an attendant who has been without customer for about 30 seconds. Express confusion when am met with a cold "83?". Quickly analyse possible interpretations of this question: number of items? Decidedly not. Date of birth? None of their business. Final price? Far too low. Shake head. Step back in shame.

1110 Watch as same attendant shouts out the same interrogative "83?" and is answered by a gentleman holding a small scrap of paper with the number 83 on it. Visually retrace gentleman's steps. Notice tiny sign on the back wall of the shop. Approach it.

1112 Read "Take ticket in order to be served". Sheepishly take ticket number 86 from the odd black box below. Head back to the counter. Wait to be served.

1113 Repent in my head for having cursed this country and its pharmaceutical ways. Repent for having mentally accused the attendants of discrimination on every level. Repent for having been ready to rugby tackle a innocent passer-by who probably hadn't even the smallest design on my St Ives Apricot Facial Scrub with Minerals and Exfoliants.

1115 Number 86 is called. I am attended, I pay. I leave. With my tail between my legs.

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