You know what I’m really looking forward to? The day when I can go to the grocery store without breaking into a nervous sweat.
I ventured to Lidl [LIE-duhl] today, the little grocery store in the next building, all by myself. Yay for the convenience of grocery shopping next door. Boo for the nerve-wracking language barrier.
At our Lidl, there’s a lidl square of counter space where the cashier plops everything as they ring it up. You have to bag yourself, so it’s kind of a game (but not the fun kind) to bag faster than they fill up the space, and not hold up the customer behind you. When we’re together, Dennis and I have a good system: I pay, he bags. But alone this time, I prepped for some well-orchestrated moves of paying and bagging in under 30 seconds.
I unloaded my overloaded basket onto the conveyor belt, and pulled out my credit card. Good thing, because before the clerk started ringing up my toilet paper, yogurt, etc., she saw my card and proceeded to say many sentences to me.
My damp nervousness turned into full-fledged flush.
Luckily, I do know the very useful phrases, “I don’t understand,” and, “I don’t speak Czech.” So I said, “Nerozumím, ale…” pointed to my card, and asked, “Ne?” (“No?”) She shook her head and pointed to the next lane over. I packed everything back into a basket, including my pride, squeezed past the mother and daughter behind me, and unloaded in the next line.
This time, I was ready. Pointing to my card, I said to the cashier, “Nemluvím česky, ale, it’s ok?” He assured me it was fine, rang up a few items, and then, “And I speak English.” Well thank goodness, because in all the eye-darting I did from one line to the next I couldn’t find any signs or clues that distinguished one lane from another. And I’m almost positive the man in black behind me was snickering. Turns out the machine in the previous lane broke last week.
Once I made it back to the safety of my apartment, I decided two things. One, I will look for that cashier every time I go to Lidl. And two, I need to relax. What’s the worst that can happen? Figuring anything out in a cold sweat is worse than figuring it out with confidence.