Wednesday, May 20, 2009

How To Show You ARE an Ex-Pat Idiot

Stress is my middle name, but can I place the blame on poor stress for making me a complete idiot? Getting up early to get Ron down to the shuttle to say our last good-bye for a month, I returned to my computer to work on a travel writing project. Later in the day, when it occurred to me that dinner was not going to cook and serve itself, I had to drag my butt out again to forage for food. Fried onions are my weakness and Ron never cooks enough of them to satiate my desires. When he is gone, my opportunity to get a whole bad to fry up is top priority. Off to Plus Grocery store I go thinking I will pick a roasted chicken, a bag of onions and be set for two meals at least. There were still lovely crispy succulent chickens in the display, teasing my taste buds in anticipation. It has been some time since I came here for one, so was surprised the price had gone up yet again, now a staggering 1,100 Huf. Plucking down my money in exact change, I take my bird and go into the grocery area. Inspecting the onions like an FDA inspector, there is finally one bag that passes my quality assurance tests. On the way out, I grab a bag of some potato rolls or something that once had a potato substance and is now hashed and formed into anemic logs. When I reach the cashier, it dawns of me that I don't have a shopping bag to bring the things home in, phase into mental planning strategy mode. The cashier says something, while I robotically hand over 5,000 Huf. As I come out of my altered state, I hear her say '3' in Hungarian, but missed what followed. She hands me my change, but my subconscious takes notice that there is never a smile or nicety on her face or voice. As I juggle my goods, I look at the change: 4,520 Huf. She gave me too much change by 1,000 Huf, causing my evil side to argue she deserves the loss due to her attitude, but my upbringing kicked in and I turned back to return the money. It was a struggle getting her to understand and she at first thought I wanted more, having been shortchanged. Finally, she took the 1,000 Huf Feeling the rush of good deeds done from Boy Scout days, I walked out of the store, thinking one giant step for ex-pats in the mind of at least one Hungarian.These thoughts lasted for at least twenty-five steps down the street when they all faded away. As my good Samaritan deeds were rolling around my brain, I looked again at what was in my hand. Then my stupidity kicked in. My change was indeed 4,520 Huf. The reason is that I had paid for the chicken before getting in line for the groceries. Now what will haunt me is whether or not the cashier was smiling from gratitude that I saved her from being short on the register or if she was thinking there is another idiot ex-pat making me 1,000 Huf richer. Gotta love them. bill I was waving in her face, gave me a big smile with a bonus thank you tacked on.

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