Sunday, October 18, 2015

Trolley Driving

TROLLEY=shopping cart

So, this seems like a major change, which can't be unintentional. In the U.S. the shopping carts have two stationary wheels in the back and two pivoting wheels in the front. So when you turn the cart the back stays with you, and the front steers in the direction you want to move. It seems so peaceful and calm now that I think of it. The trolleys here have all four wheels pivoting. When you get to the end of an aisle the cart/trolley tends to keep moving in the straight direction, even when you point it differently. You have to get your body behind the momentum before it runs into the candy bar display in front of the checkouts. It's particularly comical when the cart is heavily loaded. It really takes a good deal of core strength. I usually wonder how an small elderly woman would handle it. But she's probably not pushing a cart full of food for a huge family like I am. We have one smaller sized fridge here, instead of the TWO I had in Utah, so I have to shop more frequently. I am buying smaller amounts so I usually avoid the larger trolleys and use a pull-basket on wheels, similar to a piece of carry-on luggage with wheels. Henry can also pull one so we can work together. Also, lugging all the bags out to the car when you have to back-track through a huge mall is motivation to keep your haul to a minimum.

So I'm going to try to give you a picture of what shopping is like here.

First, everything is in a mall. The anchor stores in the malls are the grocery stores. There is a bigger mall in the next suburb over with two grocery stores, a K-Mart, Target and Big W (similar to Wal-Mart). So if you want to run to the store to get some eggs, you have to park your car, get your kid into a stroller, and walk through the mall (they make sure you have to walk past lots of smaller stores) and then you can enter the store. At first this was very annoying. Especially when you have a toddler with you and every 20 meters in the mall there is another ride-on toy that he just HAS to ride, and there is an indoor playground that he just HAS to visit.

But it generates sales for all those smaller businesses in the mall. It cuts down on their advertising. They don't have to beg you to come see their store, you HAVE to walk right past it. And there is SO MUCH LESS SIGNAGE CLUTTER on the roads because it's all inside the mall. It's also really convenient to get things done all at once without having to get in and out of the car lots of time, which is especially convenient when you have a toddler with you! The other day I walked to the mall because it was henry's nap time and I knew he'd fall asleep in the stroller. I was able to run several small errands in a relatively small walking area while he slept–print shop, passport photo place, post office, grocery shopping, vegetable store, and even the library.

"Walkable Community"
We hear that phrase a lot like it's the ideal place to live and everyone wants to live in one. We talk like we would abandon our cars and go green, carrying reusable shopping bags to buy everything. In reality, we need cars to transport the huge amounts of stuff we are always buying, and we don't make time for the walking. But here things are really "walkable." Not in the sense that everyone walks to their store everyday, but because they put everything you need in one place, so you can go there, park, and walk to everything you need. Saves gas, saves multiple trips, boosts the likelihood of purchases at other stores you are walking past, and best of all, it creates a gathering place for people to connect. There are about 5 different coffee shops at this mall and they are full of people coming to sit and read the paper and meet up with friends. The moms who get coerced to stop at the playground strike up conversations about the common things in their lives and they make friends. And the small business owners are so much more likely to survive with the steady flow of people walking by their shop.

AND the city in general is more accessible to pedestrians than cars. There are places where a street may stop access just before a major road, but there will always be a gate or sidewalk so pedestrians can get through. There are bike paths SEPARATE from the major traffic arteries so the cyclists can really ride in safety, not just at the mercy of the driver actually paying attention and not buzzing them with only inches to spare. THIS kind of place is walkable and bike-able. That other kind of "walkable community" we always idealize in the States is not realistically thought out so we don't really have them.

In Utah, I live about 1 mile from University Mall. They are currently building a new apartment complex and changing their focus from large anchor stores to office buildings. I hope, hope, HOPE a grocery store will make it into the campus soon. Costco is AWESOME and I love having it right there, but it doesn't count when you need a posterboard, some lima beans, and a candy bar. Okay, yeah, who needs lima beans, but I'm trying to make a point here.

There are separate markets for vegetables and fruit and other markets for meat. You can buy both in the grocery stores, but they are usually a bit more expensive. The meat can be almost twice as expensive in the grocery stores. In general, there are many fewer options for items you might have on your list. If you want mustard, there is just one kind. If you want cottage cheese, there is one option (not a good option, I might add). If you want cake mix, or corn chips, or light bulbs, there is just one choice.

But if you want eggs. Oh my, you have about 30 kinds to choose from. I'm so not EGGSaggerating.

The majority of the egg selection is free-range eggs. You have to look hard to find the cheaper, "cage" eggs. They are about half the price of all the others. I think there may be more reason to buy the free-range eggs than just supporting the humane treatment of the chickens because I don't have enough faith that 95% of the population is willing to pay $6/dozen just for that. I think they must taste better. Or maybe the cage eggs I am buying are as bad for you as cigarettes and I just don't know it. I don't want to find out because I just CAN'T find it within me to pay $6-7/dozen for eggs.

I took a lot of video of the kids wandering the grocery store one night but I still haven't gotten my video editing software to work so they remain just short isolated clips. But here are a few fun things I've found at the store. Believe me, there is so much more to share. I try not to be a constant gawker when I'm in public. I don't want them to think I'm laughing at everything. But seriously, have I shown you a picture of the chocolate bars? They are huge and they are good.

The Pillsbury Dough boy can be found in the Indian Cooking section. This is the only place I'm able to find whole wheat flour, which I use a lot. The flour in the regular aisle is called "plain flour" or "self-raising" flour. 

Mango Tango. The vegetable store at the mall I go to most also has some hard to find items like okra, black beans, popcorn, and molasses. The peaches are $15/kg, which is about $7/pound. The apples are $1-2/pound, zucchini is $1.50/pound, spinach $5/pound! There are a lot of other vegetables I don't recognize or have no idea what to do with. I've discovered lebanese cucumbers are the best I've ever had and have planted several plants here. I hope I can bring seeds back. 

This just makes me smile. And reminds me of King Julian for some reason. Which also makes me smile.

This was a very important find! Almost every kids toothpaste I found was mint flavored. Henry is not used to that "spicy" flavor when he brushes so I was worried. We were out of his travel-sized bubble gum flavor. I searched online and the only ones I could find were $30-40 a tube! But at the nearby pharmacy (called a "chemist") Karly found this on the VERY bottom shelf in the back. For only $4. I was thrilled.

Most "bacon" is just what we would call ham slices. The kind of bacon we are used to is...ha ha ha.

These rat traps are huge. They'll break your finger. And they had a HUGE box of them at the hardware store. Which means, there must be a lot of rats around here. I was searching for spider spray at the moment. 

And this. 
Candy here is called "lollies." But suckers are just "sucks." So if Starburst were to make some of those, it would mean: 

Have a nice day. 

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