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Just Like Target, only (way) different……….

August 12, 2009

I went to Spencers this week. The best way to explain it is that it is like shopping at a mini-mart at a large gas station – only with shopping carts and air conditioning and actual cash registers – and a bakery and a kitchen section. Oh yeah, and an electronics station and a book section. (But no digital alarm clocks.) Okay, a very large mini-mart at a very large gas station. But this store is not just around the corner – it’s about 30 minutes away – with the potential for a good bit of traffic. So you have to really “plan” a trip there.

We now have a place large enough to invite friends over – so I am doing just that. However, I don’t really have the dishes and silverware to do that. To move here, I packed a lot of my plastic plates because I knew that they would not break when they were mailed over here – but I want to invite actual adults over – not my imaginary friends from plastic plate land. And we will probably want to use silverware. Adults – remember? Okay, American adults. Indians will often eat with their hands as is their custom – but not many Americans have adopted that method just yet.

So, off to Spencers I go. My experience at Spencers explains what it is often like living in India. “Ask for what you want, be happy with what you get.”

First off, I went with one of my very favorite friends in India. So we laughed pretty much the whole time. Very nice.

However, when shopping in India, you really, truly never know just what you are going to find. You could have been at a lovely market last week where they had 10 varieties of goldfish crackers and hardly enough room to put them on the shelf. You go back this week and they say “goldfish crackers? no ma’am.” You might as well have said you wanted a real goldfish served on a golden cracker. So my motto has become “get it while the gettin’s good”.

My whole purpose in going to Spencers was to get plates and silverware.

Mission One – plates.

I walked down the plate aisle. Walk with me – here is what you will typically find. Several patterns of Correll dishes that would have been absolutely perfect if I was inviting Sanford and his son over 20 years ago (remember the tv sitcom junkyard owner) and a few patterns of pretty  china. That’s right, nothing in between. Rags to riches on aisle 7.

But not this time. This time, I spotted a lovely pottery pattern. The plates and bowls and cups all had the same colors but not the same design.  They coordinated beautifully but were not all the same, same – matchy, matchy. Tres cool.

Normally when shopping in Spencers, there are 4 salespeople on every aisle ready to bug the heck out of you help you find whatever it is you do and do not need. Today? Not so much. So I went on a Spencers safari and hunted down the lone clerk lurking behind the drinking glasses.

Me: Could you help me, please?
Him: Yes ma’am
Me: Over here, by the plates?
Him: Yes ma’am
Me: I would like to get this pattern.
Him: Yes ma’am
Me: Okay?
Him: Yes ma’am
Me: Ummmm, what do we do next?
Him: Oh, yes ma’am
Me: Okay. Seriously, I would like to get this set of dishes. And I would like another set – two sets. Of this pattern. Is there another set in the back?
Him to himself : oh-uh that was too many words – I don’t understand her – maybe if I don’t answer she will just go away
Me: Do you think there is another set in the back? This set is missing a bowl. Are there more sets?
Him: Yes ma’am
Me: Can you get them?
Him: saying Yes ma’am – but still standing right in front of me – not moving
Me: Now?
Him: leaving…….
Him: returning…..empty handed
Him: No more in back ma’am
Me: I would like to get this set.
Him: No ma’am
Me: Why not…. what happened to Yes ma’am?
Him: A bowl is missing
Me: Really, I happen to know that – remember just a minute ago – I told you that. It’s okay. I still want it
Him: No more in the back
Me: I understand that. I want this one
Him: No ma’am
(Are you banging your head against the keyboard yet?)
My Friend: Do you think another store might have it
Me and My Friend: instantly laughing – yeah – that isn’t exactly how it works here
My Friend: Can she get a discount for the missing bowl?
Me: I wish he would just agree to sell me the set – can I pluhlease get this set
Him: Yes ma’am. Then he packed it up in a box from a different set. (Apparently the box was missing too. Some mysteries are probably better left unsolved.)

Okay. In the U.S., I would have n.e.v.e.r. been happy with this set of dishes. As cute as it was, it had a missing bowl and actually a chipped saucer. No, I did not point that out to HIM. Sista please. In the US, I would have asked if they could call around to every other store in driving distance to find TWO complete sets of dishes. Heck I might have even stayed home and ordered online. I would not have wanted it without two complete sets in good condition. In fact, in the U.S., they would have walked over to the computer – entered the sku- and let me know who in Alaska had purchased the same set. I would know if Madonna and I had the same plates. Okay, not really, but you get the point.

But here, I know that if I go back later, it will be gone. I know not to drive all over town looking at other stores.  I know that I liked it well enough to not risk it. It was so cute and unique that I just decided to get it and I will just make sure the 6th person I invite does not care for soup or ice cream. Seriously, conducting a survey of my guests will be easier than finding two complete sets of matching dishes that are not broken or orphaned in anyway – at least two sets that don’t cost a fortune. These were just about the right price. And somehow I managed to get an extra serving tray in the deal for free. I mentioned it might be nice to throw in a serving tray to replace the bowl and he agreed. Wahlah. And the guy even walked up to the check out stand to ‘splain the situation to the check out clerk.

Mission Two – silverware

Oh, and I bet you forgot I wanted silverware too. And just how do I know that. Because I also forgot I wanted silverware. Damn.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. Michelle permalink
    August 16, 2009 11:26 am

    Thanks for the laugh!

    It is so true of the whole region – it’s the same in the Middle East. At Subway in Abu Dhabi this spring, I ordered a veggie sub no mayo but instead got something with chicken and lots of mayo. As nicely as possible, the cashier said, that’s ok, I will just charge you for the chicken sub (of course – it was more expensive) and she then just stared at me like I would just go away without any further discussion! (P.S. I left eventually with my veggie sub but that’s a story for another day!)

    Glad to hear you are enjoying your “adventure”-


  2. August 14, 2009 8:26 pm

    Good point about not being sure what’s in the clay.

    Most wealthy Indians probably buy their china in London.

  3. August 14, 2009 7:36 pm

    Funny, but sometimes it’s that frustrating in Target for me!

  4. August 13, 2009 10:43 pm

    Ke – when I shop in the markets I see some beautiful dishes, especially the pottery, but I cannot trust that the clay is safe much less the paint. I will get some to put in my china cabinet in the U.S. but we will not be serving food on them.

  5. August 13, 2009 9:34 pm

    Doesn’t India get the same imported goods from China that America gets? It’s not like this stuff is made in America.

    Wouldn’t it be easier to buy handcrafted Indian plates or anything else? they would be unique, interesting, probably cheaper and you could take them back to America as souvenirs.

  6. August 13, 2009 12:32 am

    Bee – the US is not perfect but when you have 5 Targets, 2 Costcos and 3 Walmarts (nevermind Homegoods, TJMaxx, Marshalls, and the malls) within 15 minutes of your house you are bound to find something quick and complete

    Baba – no because then I would have to find a hairdresser. One stress at a time please. hee hee

    Kristie – as you know this is the land of no need to make things up! It keeps us smiling! By the way, how do you feel about soup?

    Tottsmom – the middle class would be very happy probably with the Correll dishes and I would have really been too if they had just been plain – but they were very unplain

    Mamabear – Dishwasher? I know not of what you speak. Do you think I am a royalty? We have a manual dishwasher 😉

    Aunt Juicebox – bacon will look lovely on these plates by the way – America is the land of too much stuff – and I missed it very much the other day

    Jasmeet – it was pretty funny – the irony is that he understood enough to give me the platter and he knew on his own to walk up to the check out and explain it – that is some of my frustration here – honestly, sometimes people understand a lot more than they want to admit they do – when you realize what is happening, it really can kind of tick you off. But such is life and I got a funny blog post out of it – and not for nothin – some cute dishes!

  7. August 12, 2009 5:21 pm

    Hahaha! E, I was just rolling over the floor reading each line of your conversation. Awwww! You poor thang you! Stuck in this miserable land! Hehe! Actually, you should have just walked up to the counter. Here’s the postmortem of the entire scene – the moment you realised that the person was largely unable to understand you, you should have given up on him, moreover he was not responding to you even if he understood or spoke English. It was most likely you could have got a complete set had you approached the counter and asked them to get you a complete set maybe next week or something. These are not like the local market shops who order in ones and twos, they order in bulk and most probably you would have had a fresh set! Never mind, you had a deal in your hands by the end of the dai, dayum gurl!!! Ok, lemme get back to floor and start laughing again nouuu!!!

  8. August 12, 2009 3:27 pm

    You know, it’s funny how spoiled we are over here, and you don’t stop to think when you go into a big store and can choose from anything your heart desires, that not everyone in the world has that luxury. I wanted to ask you, how long you think you will be living there?

  9. mama bear permalink
    August 12, 2009 12:56 pm

    Try the indian brand Hitkari..

    The problem in US is we are always looking for stuff that is
    dishwasher safe..

    In India, the dishwasher needs to be safe-(careful)

  10. Tottsmom permalink
    August 12, 2009 12:46 pm

    ROFL, I find myself wondering where the good dish sets are hiding. I mean, I know there are middle class families in India that entertain. And I’m would think that someone has seen the need, and is willing to supply the demand. The whole distribution system intrigues me. Is there a dishware speakeasy somewhere, that if maybe, just maybe, you say the right password it will open up a whole new dream world of retail? Just a thought, and this may take you way out of your comfort zone, but they do have restaurants, and don’t beat me I KNOW it is not the States, but how about a restaurant supply. (I suggest this as it is where I get my glasses here, and again, I KNOW you are not here, I’m just trying to come up with creative ideas.) Ok, so it is not very creative, but now I’m rambling. I’ll stop now.

  11. Kristie permalink
    August 12, 2009 12:36 pm

    Ab work is complete today…thanks for the laughs. It couldn’t have been funnier if you made it up!

  12. August 12, 2009 11:36 am

    LOL. Shopping there has to be difficult! Are you pulling your hair out yet?

  13. bee permalink
    August 12, 2009 11:30 am

    Remember you are in India and not in the US??

  14. August 12, 2009 8:13 am

    badass – it would be ok if a spoon is missing – remember someone is not getting soup or ice cream 😉

  15. August 12, 2009 7:24 am

    Hopefully there aren’t any missing forks or spoons in the silverware set you purchase.

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