Lesson Learned: He DID it!!!

Dec 7, 2007, 8:16 AM |

Lesson Learned: He DID it!!!

His English isn’t good enough for me to find out what questions were actually asked of him or how he managed to use some of my techniques for stalling if stumped, but he said excitedly, “I couldn’t have done it without you, you helped me a lot!”  You know, this sort of thing could go to your head if you let it.  I told him to stay in touch, he has my e-mail and maybe a year from now, I’ll find out what actually transpired during his second interview that helped him get his longed for visa to the U.S. 

I guess I have a lot of empathy for my English language learners because my Russian is so abysmal.  Today I went to our posh neighborhood grocery store which has almost everything.  Except Ken and I keep buying paper towel rolls that are either too short or too long, they just don’t fit our kitchen’s dispenser.   

I also looked for food coloring on my shopping spree but that was not to be found on the shelf where it is supposed to be.  I always like to get a “po-kilo” of farsh (ground beef) just because I like to say “po-kilo.”  Call it weird, but there are certain words in a foreign language that are just fun to pronounce and when you get immediate reactions from the vendor or clerk behind the counter, you know you have struck a deal in their language.  Actually “po” just means half a kilo and that is about one pound.  All you need to make up tacos from a mix or a “po-kilo” fits nicely in our frying pan.

Well, I adventured over to the little kiosk within this big store that has exotic coffee from different countries.  I have bought from them before in small quantities.  However, today I felt like saying “po-kilo” for some Bolivian coffee that had a wonderful, cinnamon aroma.  The girl at the coffee kiosk ground the beans and put it in a fancy green bag (green is my favorite color because there is such a scarcity of it now with freshly fallen, sloppy snow).  Anyway, I thought I understood what the price of the half kilo of ground coffee was until… 

Until I checked out at the register, it came up as 3,500 tenge which is about $32.  That’s a LOT of coffee to be drinking at that price!!!  You can get tired of that much coffee, I was also weary from having to give up that much money.  So I told her in my unsteady Russian that it was too expensive, I wanted my money back.  About 10-15 minutes later I was bereft of my coffee and had my 3,500 tenge back in my pocket.  Whew, that was a close call.  But I had to sign a receipt and give my phone number.  It actually was no different from what you would expect back in the U.S. so I was mighty impressed with the store.  I hope they are able to sell the freshly ground coffee. 

Meanwhile, I went to one of our little, neighboring hole-in-the-wall grocery stores which is called a “producty” store or gastronome and they only had coffee that was of inferior quality.  So, tomorrow morning Ken and I will have to go without our usual coffee and the lesson that I learned was to pay more attention to the prices, even when you THINK you know what you are buying!!!