Yes, this gringa lost her cool again. While shopping. So I'll tell you again how uncool I was. Why not?
In the last post, I mentioned that most of our glass glasses have broken. Well, our glasses aren't the only thing that we are short on. Our dish supply continues to shrink as well. Saturday while doing dishes I broke the 3rd out of 4 ceramic plates. The kids and I went to the mall for lunch on Sunday and afterwards stopped into a local department store. They have a large kitchen and dish section and they also have a section where they sell single pieces of dishes. This would be from sets that are incomplete probably due to damage , so they sell them separately. I figured a few pieces would be good enough for the time being.
I've never really liked shopping here in Honduras. It's a different kind of experience. A lot less gratifying than the shopping I've done in the US. Now I could get sued for talking bad about this one particular store, but I just have to say that I will probably never go shopping in another Lady Lee department store again. I had had enough and this was the last straw.
I'll tell you what I experience here in San Pedro Sula when I go shopping. It may change a little from store to store. Most stores have security when you walk in. If you have any other bags with you, you must check them at the front. There is usually a sign that says firearms are not allowed in the store. All these things I can deal with. It is when you get past the security you will notice one or a plethora of store personal ready to follow you around the store always a few feet away. They may ask you if you need any help. They at times can be very helpful. But I don't always need undivided attention when I'm shopping. Sometimes I want to just look. But often there will always be someone right there to roam the store with you. I've experienced this hovering the worst in Lady Lee and in that other grocery store where I lost my cool. It makes me wonder what they are thinking. I also know that they work on commission so maybe they hover around me more because I'm white and think I might spend more money? Do they think I might steal something? Whatever the reason, this hovering drives me mad and makes shopping very unpleasant for me. I can usually feel my stress level go up when I walk into a store. And I guess on Sunday I hit a breaking point. (Pun intended)
We were in Lady Lee by all the random dishes display. There are dishes and mugs and bowls all precariously stacked from the ground up to about chest height on a glass shelf display. I stop to inspect some dishes (of course being closely watched) and my daughter and son walk away from me to look at something. A moment later I hear a mug break from the other side of the display. Yep, it's my son. Now I don't know if he picked it up and dropped it, bumped it or what, but these mugs were stacked one on top of the other. Not the best way to display mugs in the middle of a high traffic area of the store IMO. Crap. If you go shopping in Honduras and you break something - you buy it. So here I was ready to spend some money in the store, but because as soon as the mug broke I had three store personal surrounding me I felt irritated and decided to see if they would let me slide out without paying for the broken mug. Wrong. I knew better and was stopped. I was questioned and told that I needed to pay. I could feel my irritation rise. I think it was a combination of the fact that I couldn't communicate with them on what happened or what I thought of how irritating it is to shop at their store. After a little bit of trying to communicate and my anger feeling almost unbearable I took out a 20 lempira bill (About US $1) - the cost of the mug - and pretty much threw it at them and walked out. I said something to the effect that I wouldn't be back to shop there and oh...I said a swear word too. Oops.
Why did I get so upset? This is what baffles me. I'm not one to feel so hot headed about something so stupid. I can blame it on the annoying hovering, the lack of communication since I don't speak Spanish, or the break it - you buy it policy, but ultimately I think it's a combination of everything. I was brought to a point where I felt like I couldn't control my anger. To the point that I swore in front of my kids to strangers. We walked out of the store and I had to apologize to my kids. It was horrible. I felt horrible! I lost sleep about it that night agonizing about what horrible behavior I had. Why didn't I just get out the money as soon as it broke? Why did I want to be let off the hook? I don't know, but I drove home from that experience telling myself that I will never get used to living in Honduras and feeling very discouraged.
BTW, the mug my son broke, it was a very nice Care Bear themed mug. Just what every Honduran wants - right? Probably some cast offs from some silly themed gift set.
How do you feel about the "you break it - you buy it" policy? I'm curious.