Thursday, 26 January 2012

Half-a-kilo capacity (Του μισού κιλού)

Hania has some old stores that have been doing business for many years, selling some quite standard items at both the wholesale and retail level. There's a paper packaging merchant located in the centre of town, where shop keepers can buy all kinds of packaging supplies, including a variety of paper bags for all sorts of purposes, all sold by weight. This store supplies goods that are needed mainly be storekeepers, but retail customers can also shop there too. I personally buy my sandwich bags from this place, as you cannot buy such small long paper bags (only plastic ones) from the supermarket/. They neatly fit a long filled bread roll in them. I recently went there to top up my supplies.

"What can I do for you, madam?" a very friendly man with a cheery face greeted me. He was slightly short with a fair complexion.

sandwich bags
"I'd like to buy some paper sandwich bags, please," I said.

The man looked at me very seriously, but he was still smiling. "You mean 'paper bags with half-a-kilo capacity', madam."

"I suppose so," I answered, not really knowing what he was talking about.

"Oh, it's very important to ask for them this way," he quickly added, "because if I'm not in the shop when you ask for 'sand-wich-bags', that young man over there sitting by the till" - he pointed to an old man who wasn't paying any attention to us - "will start screaming 'Yianni!' - and he cupped his hands round his mouth at this - "until I hear him and I'll have to come racing back to the shop from across the road where I might have been drinking coffee with Babi to find them because he won't know what you're talking about."

"OK," I smiled, "I'll remember that for next time."

"So, madam," the pleasant man continued mild-mannered, as he turned in the direction of the location of the half-kilo capacity bags, "you make sandwiches for the family." He looked at my children who were accompanying me that day. "And what do you put in those delicious sandwiches you make?"

I began to relish the thought of discussing my food with a non-family member (I only do this in writing, hardly ever in spoken language). "Apart from the usual ham-and-cheese, I add sliced tomatoes from our own garden..." The man grinned approvingly. "... and some summer peppers which I've pickled in vinegar."

The man grinned. "Oh, so you use your own garden produce? That's a good thing these days, isn't it?" He placed a large bunch of paper bags into a plastic one and put it on a scale to weigh the contents. He was about to pick up the plastic bag when his smile widened to a broad grin and he looked as though he were thinking of something.

"Well, I don't have a garden myself, but my neighbour does. He lives right across the road from me. My house is here," he said, pointing his hands diagonally towards the ground in front of him, "and his house is right there where you're standing," he added, pointing diagonally again towards me, again at the ground, "and a couple of weeks ago, he bought me three lit-tle cucumbers, about this size," he said, stopping to show me the palm of one hand with the other hand pointing to his wrist, "and they looked so fresh and delicious, I just ate the two of them right there on the spot," he said, making a movement with his one hand rolled up close to his mouth, as though he was pretending to be eating something. "But my hunger was quite satisfied after having those two, and the wife didn't get any cucumber herself so I put the other one in the fridge, and we quite forgot about it. And then, well, just a couple of days later, I reminded the wife about the cucumber waiting in the fridge, and so she took it out, but she couldn't even pick it up, you know, because it was a soggy mess! It felt like, well, just like a limp macaroni, would you believe it, it was full of a squishy gooey mess! And I thought to myself, you just don't know what you're eating these days, do you?"

"No, not at all," I agreed.

"Here you are, madam," the man said, as he passed the plastic bag to me. Then he shouted out to the old man at the till: "That's 1.40, me lad!"

I bought enough sandwich bags to keep me until Easter. Hopefully, the very friendly chap will be there again to tell me another story, maybe this time about oranges or apples, or even watermelons, although it will be a bit early for them. You never know.

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