Mission Impossible?

I have a dangerous mission ahead, of 007 proportions…………..fortunately, after a couple of years of trial and error I now believe I have a foolproof plan in place. The mission?…….. I’m heading to Carrefour for a big shop !

I know it’s only a supermarket but safety Precautions need to be taken. I have spent the morning rummaging through my husbands collection of shin pads, knee braces, ankle straps and elbow supports, (no he’s not kinky he plays rugby) I did consider the scrum cap but it wasn’t that flattering and even I think that may be a step too far.

The reason I need this protective armour  kit is to ensure that I return unscathed from the trolly wars battle. This is no ordinary supermarket, oh no, nor are you simply battling against the trolly, there are thousands of other shoppers to contend with, all of whom appear to have decided I am fair game for a bit of elbow digging, ankle crushing, toe stomping and other forms of torture that even Jason Bourne didn’t have to contend with.

The problems start with the trolly selection, obviously this is a common complaint worldwide, four wheels is always a good start point, you may laugh but this is not always an option that’s available. I also tend to go for the larger sized trollys not that I require it’s capacity but rather so it can act as a battering ram, unfortunately none are available with airbags just yet, maybe a patent pending!

Now the first aisle is easy it’s reserved for the special offers and is considerably wider than the rest but what do they do with all that cooking oil? It fascinates me to see buckets of it in everyones trolly, do they fry everything? On reflection I had fried cucumber yesterday and very tasty too, maybe I’ve been here too long.

Mum always taught me never to buy damaged tins, something about the metal rusting and infecting the contents, or something like that. Well I don’t know if there is a chain gang in the back store running a production line to create the dents but a “perfect” tin is pretty hard to find. So I just make do with the dented variety but I do draw the line and avoid the ones without labels.

The” free for all “section is the fruit and veg, and it’s here that the safety gear comes into play. Psyche your self up, bags in hand and head to the weigh in counter. You  see Egyptians don’t do queues, and if you hang back and hope some kindly soul will notice that you were in front of them and let you in well you could be there all day.

There is a knack to getting your produce weighed and it goes like this……….

  • After selecting your produce and placing in individual bags  DO NOT  tie or fold the bags,   leave them all open at the top to facilitate carrying all your bags in one hand
  • With your free hand pull your trolly along BEHIND you as you shuffle and elbow your way to the front of the mob. ( this is where the elbow supports come in) If your trolly is in front you will never get close enough to the scales.
  • DO NOT step back to allow someone out, someone will jump in in front of you, they will manage to squeeze out somehow.
  • On reaching the counter place your first bag on the scale, the assistant now needs to fold the bag to attach the label in case you might be tempted to squeeze in an extra onion.
  •  Crucially this buys you enough time to place your second bag on the scale and remove bag number one which is dumped behind you into the trolly.
  • Continue in this manor until all bags have been weighed. With this method no one can squeeze in with their bags as the scales are never empty….it works every time.

On to the checkout…..you must now be prepared to lose half of what you just spent the last hour looking for, why? Because the bar codes won’t work!  Throughout Cairo there appears to a multitude of people doing very specific tasks. One person to pack your bags another one to carry them etc etc but there appears to be a massive shortage of bar code checkers, it is at this point I usually lose the will to live.

I have witnessed lots of very heated and loud confrontations, hands waving,  kids screaming as mum/dad is shouting at the checkout operator    “NO I really really do need this chilli powder, and it is not OK if you just set it to the side cos you can’t find some one to check the price. I want chilli con carne for dinner so SORT IT OUT.” if a bar code checker does become available I think they head back to the manufacturer directly as there is no way they could possibly navigate those aisles without the full body kit.

Ok…I am suited and booted and raring to go, all pads are in place, and I have my list.  I even have my non-slip shoes on although they only work with limited effect around the fish section, the melted ice on the floor adds to the unique aroma that I now associate with complete and utter desperation ….wish me luck I’m off.


10 thoughts on “Mission Impossible?

  1. yes you are right about all what you said..but u i think you go at not the perfect time coz this time is the big session on the year for carrefour .it is Ramadan time my dear for sure u will face those problems cuz there is tooooooo much ppl visiting carrefour at this time to take the good promotions of goods for Ramadan.
    and if you go in normal days you have to choose the the good time as well.not all days is the same.you can go in the medial of the week like Sunday or Monday .there is not too much ppl visiting carrefour,
    and one important thing for each section one section manager and for the department there is one dept head and also there is GM for the the store and he is french and i think it you complain for any any one of the management i am sure he will take action and he will not except that wrong things .
    i am really really really sorry for what happens with you .cuz i am working in carrefour as section manager but i am not in the Maddi store i am in obor store but i will open the new store in shorten area
    and if you need any support you can connect me by the mail
    i am sorry once again .have great day

  2. maireadhoey says:

    WOW……..you have no need to apologize, and I would never dream of complaining about Carrefour or their staff. The store is excellent value for money and all the staff work extremely hard. The only problem is there needs to be about 10 more Carrefours in Cairo to cope with the amount of customers you get.

    Good luck with opening your new store and I hope you get a promotion to department head as your reply shows excellent customer care skills. ( Maybe you should show this to your boss)

    Once again Good Luck

    • thank you soooooo much my dear.
      yes u are right and that is the plan of the company we will open more stores.carrefour is the best supermarket in Egypt compering to other Company cuz i worked for many supermarket company.and believe me i dont say that cuz i am working in carrefour.
      thank you my dear and i am at ur service any time :):)
      have great time :):)

  3. Sharon says:

    This brought back such memories, I’m still laughing and my colleague (whoops reading at work!) thinks I’ve gone nuts. And there’s no point sharing it with him because he wouldn’t believe it anyway, it has to be experienced to be believed. One of the things I don’t miss about Cairo is food shopping although after a year back in the UK the delights of Tesco are beginning to wane.

  4. jean says:

    Sayed Mohammed is right…go in the middle of the week, not the weekends. I usually aim for when the store is just opening in the morning. Most Egyptians are sleeping or working, so I can navigate the aisles pretty well. Also, with Ramadan coming up, I do not go anywhere near them on this weekend, cuz it will be a zoo ! I wait till Ramadan has already started and then go, cuz again…they are all sleeping. Been here for 6 years now, and this strategy seems to work for me.
    oh…to add to this insanity. Have you ever had someone try to cut in front of you while you are at the cashier? They try to do it with me, which is when the hubby leaves me on my own, cuz he KNOWS that WW3 is about to start. I have taken people’s stuff off, and put it on the floor when they try to cut ahead. I get a lot of strange looks, to which I start yelling, then they back off, and realize that I am not standing there for my health !
    But its a trip, huh?
    My faves are the women in the aisles, with their carts sideways talking to another friend with her cart sideways, totally blocking passage. Thats when I go Kamakaze on them both…they move !

  5. jean says:

    oh…and have fun. Cairo is an adventure all the time !

  6. The old ladies in Portugal are lethal in supermarkets. They are knee high to a grass hopper and have elbows like razors!

  7. I hope I’ve subscribed by email – pls can you check?

  8. Myra 米兰 says:

    Brought back memories for me too, except I lived in China. 🙂

  9. Mike (SA) says:

    You have such a fantastic talent to put this experience into such a funny post. Thanks, it was the best read I’ve had in a long time…and I’ll definitely be checking back on follow up articles.

    Sounds a bit like South Africa supermarkets too.

    Thanks again

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