One of the most frustrating things about living in Switzerland is the lack of store hours. All stores, including grocery stores, close by 7pm on weekdays and 6pm on Saturdays. Everything is completely closed on Sundays. If you need something unexpectedly outside of opening hours, your only option is to trek across town to the airport where there is a small grocery store with extended hours. So, as you can imagine, grocery stores are completely packed on Saturday afternoons.
Since I have a bit of flexibility in my schedule, I have adapted to these hours and usually do not find them inconvient. This weekend, however, I found myself wishing (for the frist time) there was a Kroger or Super Target around the corner.
While out on a kayaking trip with Ski Club on Saturday, I discovered that Monday is a Swiss holiday and that all stores and businesses would be closed. My thoughts immediately drifted to a visual of my refrigerator and pantry and I realized that unless I could make it to the store before closing, I would be forced to survive on old green onions, a half jar of peanut butter, and a few stale granola bars for two and a half days.
Arriving in Geneva at 5:35 still in my swimsuit and wet clothes, I bee-lined for the grocery store while making a mental grocery list. All my thoughts went out the window when I was confronted with complete chaos. What I found resembled Toys R' Us on the day they release the hottest Christmas item. There was a line to just get into the store and people were practically fighting for the few remaining carts and/or baskets. It was impossible to navigate the crowded, narrow aisles while dodging carts, strollers, and running children. I did not think things could get any worse until an employee started to discount the very last of the fruits and veggies. Shoppers started to surround this poor guy as if he was Brad Pitt stripped down naked. Even though I really wanted some fresh fruits and vegetables, I skipped the produce area seeking out any area that would not leave me with scratches and bruises. Juggling the most random items (What can I make with prosciutto, yogurt, oatmeal, and cashews?) in my arms, I just wanted to get the heck out of there! I soon discovered that would not be so easy when I encounted what seemed to be a mile long wall of people waiting to check out. If I had had enough cereal and milk and at home to last until Tuesday, I would have jumped shipped but I knew that I had absolutely nothing at home. So, I braved the line and waited impatiently. Of course, the 15 people in front of me all seemed to have one problem or another. One could forgot to weigh her veggies. Another could not get his credit card to work while another one dropped a can of pasta sauce. Finally, I reached the front of the line, checked out and payed as if I was being chased by a shark. It is a good thing that I one of those random items I bought was a bottle of wine!