Today, I went to Real (ray-ALL), the huge store that I hate but that is the only place you can get some things (like peanut butter, shampoo in reasonably-sized bottles, and cream of mushroom soup in non-powdered form). Normally, I save my Real purchases for when Nathan’s here and then get him to come with me. Real is not a place to be visited alone. Every time I attempt it, I have a flashback to the first time I took Anna Rose (who lives downtown in one of the small cities that comprise “Atlanta”) to a suburban Kroger. We divided with the intention of conquering, and she had been tasked with getting some cheddar (presumably among other things, although I don’t remember now). I went about my half of the list and came back about ten minutes later to find her frozen, staring helplessly at an entire wall covered with nearly identical bags of cheese. How on earth could anyone ever need such variety, and which bag was the correct one (and there’s always a correct one) for the Hardins? It was just too much, and at Real, it is always far too much.

When I have to bite the  bullet and go, I try to get in and out as quickly as possible. But, since it’s Germany, the number of people in line is directly proportional to your desire to leave and inversely proportional to the number of cashiers on duty. And I wanted very much to be gone. Generally, people in Germany are really nice about letting you go in front of them if you don’t have very much to buy, and they have a lot. But unfortunately it was the person 2 people in front of me that had lots of stuff, and the guy directly in front had just one box. So he got to go forward, but I did not. Then a man with just a few beers slipped past me and asked the person in front of me if he could go to the front. The woman behind me interrupted, “That’s not fair. You can’t just ask him; you have to ask each of us.” She and the man went back and forth for a few exchanges and then finally consented to let the man cut. But the peace was not to last–the guy had barely settled into his new place in line before he started clucking at her. Like a chicken. I didn’t see the look she gave him, but he quickly said “It wasn’t directed at you!” (as if it’s better if he just goes bokbokbocking around the city for its own sake), to which she (rightly) revoked his cutting privileges: “You’re not going in front of me. If the others will let you through, you can get in line behind me!”  And since this is Germany, he sort of obeyed, going to the back for a few seconds before trying (and succeeding) to cut to the front of another line.

Germans: Don’t mess with the Ordnung.

Enrichment reading: