The Angry Woman and The Corner Store

The French saying “je ne c’est quoi” has come to the aid of many travelers as they try to convey an experience or location to listeners in their home culture. Similes start flying and the phrase “it’s like this, but different” is leaned on in crutch like fashion. This hits another level when you move away from your home culture because in time those indescribable settings and scenarios become everyday events. Then someone visits from your home culture and their fresh eyes remind you of what you once saw.

Sklep spożywczy is one of these special places that we’d like to share with you.

Translated as “grocery store”, sklep spożywczy is not the image that came to your mind when you read the translation. You don’t have to look far to find one. They’ve spread through most Polish towns like mushrooms. Popping up in all kinds of places. Imagine a small store where everything is behind glass. Occasionally items may be within reach, but don’t dare touch them. Rookie mistake. Instead you must ask the perpetually perturbed lady behind the counter for what you want. This should be done in a somewhat apologetic tone as your order is obviously disturbing her (though we’re never sure what other task we’re taking her from). Often the goods lining the shelves are for display purposes only and your item of choice may or may not be in stock. The lady will tell you if you are in luck or let you know that she only has the show item left and that is most certainly not for sale.

the Polish response to the corner storeThe method to stocking the store seems to be a “what might I realize I’m missing while in my kitchen” type approach. So if you’re looking to do a full grocery shop – look elsewhere. Bread, milk, eggs, onions, beer, chocolate and soda are the staples. When it comes to paying, you better have a 5 zloty coin or there’s going to be trouble. Any higher denomination will be treated as a personal affront or an attempt to drain the register of smaller change. When we have larger money we catch ourselves mentally preparing for the “don’t you have anything smaller” tango.

This is sklep spożywczy. If you’ve been in one, you’re laughing at this article because you understand.


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