For many years now, what was a very pleasurable way to spend time before 1959 — going shopping — even if just standing outside and looking in the shop windows, has become almost a punishment.

Most of us who go out to buy something for the home, are women. In genera, men detest this type of activity. Undoubtedly they prefer to submit to the Chinese torture of going to the farmer’s markets (perhaps because they have no choice), because they are the ones with the strength to carry the heavy bags full of fruits and vegetables.

My friend Magy told me that yesterday she went shopping at the department store La Epoca (fine, what was left of it), because her daughter had given her some money for her name day to buy a pair of shoes. Something that could have been very pleasant was turned into a real burden.

To enter this shop, as in all of them on my beloved planet, even in the smallest, you have to leave your bag outside. And this annoying, but they say, it’s the established custom. Of course, when you ask who established it, nobody knows the answer. The place where you leave your bags has a sign that says: Objects of value cannot be left in bags. There is no detail about what objects fall into this category. So, if you want to go in, you have no option but to leave your bag with all your personal belongings in it. For me, for example, things if value include the keys to my house, photos of my children, a little notebook, a flash memory, my cosmetics, in short, everything that I always carry.  Then, you have to become a juggler, carrying in your hands your wallet, glasses, cellphone (if you have one) and whatever objects you consider important. This is not only very bad, but it also lends itself to many things, among which is someone hiding something in your bad or removing something from it.

My friend, like everyone else, had to leave her bag in the pigeonhole, after waiting in the usual line, and then hand over her ID, which they demand despite it being a flagrant violation, carry in her hands the above mentioned objects and climb the stairs to the third floor, where the shoe shop is, because the elevators are only for the use of the employees or those with obvious disabilities.

Once there she saw some shoes she like and when she tried them on she told the clerk she would buy them, but she would take them in a bag without the box. She was told she had to take the box because they couldn’t allow her to leave it there because they weren’t allowed to accumulate trash, and if she didn’t want it she could throw it in the first trash can in the street. This bothered my friend, but there was nothing she could do about it.

She took the fifty CUCs her daughter had given her and when she went to pay the clerk asked for her ID card, and she said she didn’t have it as she had left it with her bag as demanded. Then the clerk asked if she knew the number by heart and she said no. Then, I’m sorry — answered the saleswoman — I can’t give them to you. My friend insisted but to no avail. She was indignant without her pair of shoes, tired and exhausted from the heat (the shop wasn’t air-conditioned) and what should have been a nice afternoon of shopping turned into a real punishment.

August 13 2011

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