In America, you get used to things working. You wouldn’t dream of going to a grocery store and seeing the floor rutted and uneven, and the lights flickering. If something breaks in a public place, it’ll be fixed right away. If you ask for something to be done a certain way, you’ll get it, or you can raise hell, send the dish back to the kitchen, file a complaint, whatever.
Not so here. The mall across the street from me—elegantly named “Fifth Avenue”—has been suffering from two broken sliding doors since November. One of the three treadmills at my gym gave out a week after I signed up for membership and has been sitting there dead, taking up space ever since. This past Tuesday I asked to have a bunch of copies done for my classes—you can’t do it yourself in the library, I was told, the copier will break—and what I got back was a stack of pages, all out of order, with only every other page copied, costing me literally hours of sorting and an embarassing request for my order to be filled out correctly this time.
So this Friday, when I was coming home, I stopped at the grocery store to pick up some stuff for Sveta, my roommate who was stuck in bed with the flu. I noticed that, behold! Mars ice cream bars, my favorite—and rare—ice cream treats, were in stock! Today was my lucky day! Of course, I gathered all the other groceries first so that I could snatch one at the last minute to provide for the least amount of melting. It was a very busy day at the grocery store. In fact, I had just waited in a twenty-cart-long line to get my cucumbers weighed, and the checkout lines looked pretty full too. I chose exactly the wrong one. In front of me was a young couple who were buying six thousand rubles worth of groceries. That’s close to two hundred dollars. After this, they received a whole sheet of little token stickers which enabled them to purchase as a reward a really hideous stuffed cat. The wife was clearly very determined and serious about obtaining this thing. So the helpless cashier, a helplessly ugly woman whose stultifying job had rendered her face completely unexpressionless, had to go get assistance from some manager to get official permission to hand out the stuffed monstrosity. This took forever. I looked down at my Mars bar. It was surely beginning to melt as it lay there on the belt. The couple amassed their groceries and retreated. Now, it appeared that their purchase had been so big, that the cashier’s computers temporarily crashed, and she couldn’t get it to turn back on! Help was again sought. The Mars bar package started to lose its shape as the ice cream melted further. I and the other customers in line behind me looked at each other with expressions of quiet suffering. Finally, finally, the computer blinked back on and I was able to pay for my groceries. Steps away from the checkout area, I stuffed the ice cream in my mouth in a few bites. I would have liked to take my time to enjoy the thing, but it was already falling apart in my hands, and hey, I guess it still tasted pretty good.
Cat pictures for your time: