A Moment of Kindness

23 Dec

Russian cashiers are not known for their amazing customer service skills.  I assume the logic is that if you want to buy milk, you will buy milk; it doesn’t matter if they smile and ask how your day is.  They ask if you need a plastic bag and if you have a store card then they tell you your total and badger you for as close to exact change as possible.  The majority of the time, I get through these interactions with no problem and leave with my groceries.

Tonight, I was at the store and saw something that was on my x-mas list for our family.  The display showed that it was supposedly a great deal, so I went for it.  When the cashier began to ring up my items she asked if I had a card and then broke script, saying something that I couldn’t understand.  I admitted (in Russian) that I didn’t speak Russian and didn’t understand.  She continued speaking and pointing at a card with the discounted prices.  I somehow understood from the gestures and concern that in order to get the discount, I had to have *something.*  Before I could respond, she took a sheet of paper with a barcode, showed it to me and then scanned it.  I said, “спасибо большое,” (“thank you very much”) and she looked at me with a little smile, put her fingers to her lips, and said “shhhhh.”  It was such a conspiratorial moment and such kindness on her part that it shocked me.

I sometimes find it difficult to create meaningful blog posts because so many of the things that affect my daily life here are insignificant by American standards.  Does anyone really want to read about a helpful cashier?  Yet, this made me walk home with a skip in my step and a smile on my face.  I feel like every action here takes more work than I am used to: going outside requires layers-upon-layers of clothing and three doors to unlock and relock; buying groceries means decoding labels, determining which stores carry which items, and figuring out what happened to every single container of milk less than 2.5% (where DID they all go?!); and, buying train tickets means navigating a Russian-language site because the English version does not allow you to purchase tickets and the expat site charges over 40% more.  Given this, the positive experiences, no matter how small, really make a difference.

So, thank you to the nice young woman at the grocery store for helping me out tonight!  Not only did you save me lots of money, but you made me feel like we understood each other without even speaking the same language.

до свидания!

One Response to “A Moment of Kindness”

  1. John Dewey Nakamura Remy December 24, 2012 at 00:23 #

    These events are significant to us because they’re significant to you!

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