A short story Lanzarote
Do you remember the scene in the classic Christmas movie, Love Actually, where the character played by Liam Neeson is shopping secretly for his secretary, who is seducing him? He bumps into his wife in the store and is keen to finish the transaction as quickly as possible, but Rowan Atkinson’s character insists on gift wrapping it to the extreme, layer upon layer of crap goes into the bag. Yes, I am sure that you remember.
Well today in a beautiful market in Haria, Lanzarote we had a similar experience.
My better half (though not by much) was buying cheese from a stall which sold only cheese. There was one customer ahead of her and the conversation went something like this. (I have translated it as best I can from Spanish).
Stall owner: Good morning, how can I help you?
Customer: What do you have?
Stall owner: Cheese.
Customer: What kinds do you have?
Stall owner: All of our cheeses are hand made in our own family dairy.
Customer: But what types?
Stall owner: Well this one is cured (I didn’t understand what was wrong with it) and then wrapped in fennel and paprika.
Customer: I don’t like the sound of that.
Stall owner: Well this one is semi-cured (so partially sick?) and is covered in cilantro, pepper and rosemary.
Customer: Do you have any ordinary cheese?
Stall owner: What do you mean?
Customer: No spices or wrapping, just cheese.
Stall owner: Well, I have some Emmental that I bought from the cooperative last week, but it’s not hand made by our family dairy.
Customer: Does it have spices and cures?
Stall owner: No, it’s just normal Emmental.
At this point I am torn between continuing listening to this fascinating, if slightly annoying conversation, and ripping out my spleen. But hey, I felt a blog coming on!
Customer: Well how much is it?
Stall owner: I’ll weigh it.
She takes out a small scale from under the table, carefully places the cheese on one side and some small pieces of metal on the other end. The cheese won! She added a couple more pieces of metal, until the two sides were perfectly balanced.
Stall owner: OK, that’s 328 grams.
Customer: How much will that cost then?
The stall owner reaches under the table and extracts a small calculator.
Stall owner: That will be €3.86
Customer: OK thank you.
Then the stall owner takes another machine from under the table and does something with a plastic bag. She then puts the cheese into the bag and extracts all of the air. Then she carefully, oh so very carefully, places the bag into a long brown paper bag which she folds. Then she places a sticky label on the brown bag and I heave a sigh of relief that she has finally finished. But no, she cuts a length of string and ties it in a bow around the package.This transaction took 3 hours and 17 minutes.
No wonder Spanish business are failing at a record rate. My better half’s turn had come, she pointed, said, “That one please, no plastic vacuum bag, no labels, no string, we’re hungry.” Done and dusted in 1 minute 24 seconds, efficient!