Friday, 18 July 2008

Corner Shop

In the UK, most 'corner shops' are owned by Indians or Pakistanis. There was great resentment when these hard-working and enterprising immigrants arrived in the UK, bought these properties and worked their grollies off in them for at least twelve hours a day, six or seven days a week. 'Corner shop' is a catch-all phrase for a small grocery/general store. The idea that these immigrants were 'taking our jobs' is complete rubbish, of course. Very few Brits were prepared to put in the hours that the Asians did.

In Spain, the corner shop is called an 'alimentacion' - basically, a food shop. But because they are mostly owned and run by Chinese, they are also known as 'chino's'. I'm in no position to judge how the Spanish feel about these places: all I know is that they can usually sell you an onion (or pretty much anything else) at midnight. It will be a pricey onion, mind, because a) they don't have the buying power of big supermarket chains, and b) they understand supply and demand.

The reason I'm wibbling on about this now is that I've just witnessed a fairly unpleasant incident at my local Dia supermarket. Dia is owned by Carrefour, and their prices are similar to Lidl or Aldi. It's a no-frills establishment. Ever since I've been shopping at Dia (I avoid their meat, and they don't do fish), I've noticed that whenever I was in a hurry to get in and get out (which is nearly always: I can't stand the place), there would be one or two Chinese with one or two trolleys stacked to the gunwhales with stuff. Not the kind of shopping you do for a household: more the kind you do for your corner shop - 48 x 2 litre bottles of Coca Cola, 6 cases of Heineken, etc. Basically, they were using the place as a wholesaler. This might be ok, but because it's a budget operation, Dia usually doesn't have the staff to operate more than one checkout at a time, and so everyone gets held up while these vast quantities of stuff are being processed.

So, today I was in the usual quite long queue and I could hear shouting at the front of the store. As I got closer to the checkout, I could see a Chinese woman with a trolley being denied entrance by the quite-well-built manageress. I don't know if this signals a new policy by Dia, or if the manageress was just feeling vindictive against this particular woman. But neither of them was giving any ground, and when my modest pile of shopping was halfway through being checked-out, the cashier suddenly locked up the till and she and half of the queue rushed to surround the manageress and the Chinese woman, because they were on the edge of beating each other to a pulp (that's a lie, actually, the Chinese woman would have been slaughtered). Things calmed down a little, the cashier came back, I paid for my stuff, and then had to walk past the combatants. The Chinese woman had started up her yelling once more, and as I passed her I invited her to 'fuck off', and to 'shut the fuck up'. She had no idea what I was saying, but the manageress did.

I might be up for a free bar of chocolate next time I go there.

6 comments:

Duffy said...

Oddly corner stores are known as bodegas in NYC.

Mars said...

people can be banned from shopping?

alexander... said...

I don't understand. I always associated KB with mild mannered reason...

the real nick said...

clever move, Keefie. Never side with the underdog, who just wanted to do some bulk shopping..Do you feel Spanish now?

Keefieboy said...

Mars: Sure they can - any business has the right to not deal with people they don't want to...

Alexander: I was pissed off.

Nick: I was pissed off. The basic point is that Dia is environmental terrorism - it's fucking horrible in there at the best of times. All I wanna do is get in and get out as quickly as possible. I'm not there for a social experience.

Ynot said...

Free bar of chocolate? From Dia? In what universe?

I go to the one on Infantas, and I hate it. Honestly, my neighborhood is pricey from hell, and no local supermarkets. Dia is it. And they know it. They are rude and unpleasant at the best of times. As for customer care, I rather feel like shooting them in the head most of the time. The prices are low, true, but that does not give them the right to be rude and inefficient. I am not rude to them. The minute an Opencor opens up in Chueca neighborhood that place is going down and taking down their fat underpaid ugly and badly-mannered lacking in make up skills female staff with it.

It will be back to the Extraradio to you ladies!!

Can't wait.

PS: I think the Spanish have a love hate relationship with their local "Chino". Love the convenience, hate the price. If only Wal-mart were to open up in Europe....