Red carpet grocery shopping

A few weeks ago in one of the mommy groups I’m part of online, a lady posted about her desire to move to Lebanon.  She’s Lebanese but has only lived in Canada, but dreams of bringing her family back to her homeland.  I’ve seen this conversation happen many times before, but this was the first time the majority of the responses were negative…. I think the trash crisis has really taken it’s toll on people’s perceptions of their future here.  The final conclusion of many of the moms was that if you have money, you can be comfortable here, but if not, don’t even consider it.  The idea is, if you can afford it, you can have a maid, a nanny, and a driver.   You can live in luxury apartments with a generator so that you don’t notice the power cuts and pay for your kids to attend the best schools and be busy with all sorts of (expensive) activities.

We clearly don’t live like this.  But I got a taste of that side of Lebanon when I went grocery shopping – of all things – last week.  I was in Spinneys Hazmieh (quickly overtaking TSC as my supermarket of choice) all by myself… a rare and exciting thing!  My cart was full with our weekly groceries and extras for Isla’s birthday party and I was waiting in line to check out.  The bagger asked me if I had a gold card, a special card given to those who spend a certain amount of money at Spinneys, which allows you to skip the line and go to a special checkout.  I don’t have this card.

A few seconds later, another employee showed up, took my cart and asked me to follow him.  I figured he was just opening another lane since it was busy, but then we started heading down a hallway.  A private, fancy hallway.  With a sign saying it was for platinum members only.  “I don’t have the card!” I protested, but he assured me that he knew and it was okay.  We walked down the hallway to a lounge.  Couches, chairs, two flat screen TVs.

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He took my cart to another room to ring up my groceries, which I could watch happening on one of the TVs.  Another employee came in and offered me a coffee, an espresso, a water to enjoy while I waited.

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I felt like such an imposter in my Target tshirt and old cutoff jean shorts.  I do often get special attention when my three blondies are with me… maybe he noticed the dark circles under my eyes courtesy of a teething baby.

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When my groceries were scanned and bagged, I paid and was told I could drive my car up to a special door under a platinum awning to be loaded.  I had a moment of panic trying to figure out if and how much to tip everyone and then was happily on my way, my groceries all packed in special platinum colored plastic bags.  Our grocery bags generally become our trash bags, but I’m too embarrassed to use these.

I’ll likely never grace the hallowed halls of Spinney’s platinum checkout again, which is fine with me, because no matter how much I protest, I just can’t get anyone to understand that I WANT to bag my own groceries.  It’s the only way I can guarantee the pears won’t be squashed under a can of black beans.

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3 thoughts on “Red carpet grocery shopping

  1. That sounds like a really painful experience to me! Maybe I’m strange but I always hated standing by while they packed my bags. I felt really useless. Though it was much appreciated once I had a baby in my arms.

    Still it does shed light on the belief that Lebanon is great but only if you can live like a colonial. I feel the middle classes put themselves under great pressure to climb an extra rung and Lebanese society pushes toward a maximum of differentiation among the middle classes, down to the colour of your shopping bags, the only purpose being to show others how much you spend.

    Somehow those who can’t even afford to shop at Spinneys seem to enjoy life more than the climbers, even though no-one packs their bags.

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