Anna the older checkout lady smiles apologetically: “Good afternoon, I am so sorry to have kept you waiting today. Apologies for any inconvenience caused.”
My husband: “That’s quite ok. We’re not in a hurry.”
And indeed we are not. It’s actually interesting to watch people shopping for ordinary everyday things in a new country. What they buy, how they talk to their children and what happens at checkout. My husband always avoids a cashier called Barbara. Appearantly she talks so much.
Anna: “Will you be needing any bags today?”
Me: “No thank you, we have our own.”
Anna scans each item very carefully and stops: “Thank you for shopping at Sainsbury’s. Hope your shopping experience was good.”
My husband is a bit startled: “Yes, thank you.”
Anna continues her methodical scanning and pauses again: “Will you be using any store coupons or vouchers today?”
My husband: “No, thank you. I left them at home.”
Anna is concerned: “Please make sure you use them by their expiry date. It’s marked at the bottom.”
My husband nods. I can see that he’s annoyed at himself. It was only yesterday that he was cursing the strange system of providing rewards as coupons instead of automatically uploading them onto the store card.
Anna scans the last items of our weekly grocery run: “Oh, this hand towel is half price for you. So, the total is £101.50. Do you have any store coupons or vouchers? Do you need any bags?”
My husband shakes his head no, swipes his store card and pays with a credit card.
Anna flashes us another apologetic smile: “Thank you for shopping at Sainsbury’s. Hope you had a good shopping experience. Sorry about the wait and any inconvenience caused. Here are your receipts and the vouchers you earned today. Please make sure to use them before the expiry date.”
We smile politely, a bit confused about the entire experience and reply in unison: “Thank you.”
Meanwhile in Finland:
Anna the middle-aged cashier finally lifts her gaze to me: “Store card?”
Me: “No, left it at home”