First thing you have to understand is that stores in Sri Lanka, compared to their North American counterpart (as if such a thing really exists) are grossly overstaffed. There are security guards and doormen on top of the usual produce people, guys at the meat counter, checkout girls, baggers, pharmacist, and so on.
Labour is cheap.
So, arriving at the grocery store today, the door man wouldn’t let us in initially. The problem? My grocery bags.
About a half year or so ago, a law was passed that made it illegal fo the grocery stores to provide, for free, single-use plastic shopping bags – or something to that effect. Arpico, where we usually shop, started selling fabric shopping bags. I took a look at them and they were flimsy, to be generous. Matted fibres, not woven, that looked and felt like they would fall apart quickly. Not what I’m looking for in a re-usable shopping bag.
Instead, I took a look around the house and found some fabric – wasn’t sure if it was a sheet or what, although it turned out to be Fahim’ brother’s school blanket (oops!) – that I sewed into sturdy re-useable shopping bags. And those are the shopping bags we’ve been using ever since.
Of course, about a month after the aforementioned law was passed, it was reversed, making single-use plastic shopping bags legal again. Rumour had it that the bill was passed in the first place because the nephew/son of a minister had a plant producing the cloth bags or something – it’s all a bit hazy, and let’s face it, the rumours circulate in Sinhalese and Tamil, not English.
All of which leads to today.
The door man wouldn’t let us in because we were supposed to leave our bags with security, which is outside the store. Uh, no, these are our shopping bags. Leaving them outside defeats the purpose of bringing them with us.
The guy argued with Fahim a bit, then he called over three other guys who knew us and we were quickly let in.
Some old guy walked up to Fahim and started chatting him up about, you know, our house that he worked on while Fahim was abroad. You know, the house he worked on, trying to stress that somehow, he knew us. Never mind that Fahim would not have known him if he were abroad at the time, but logic doesn’t have a place here.
Then he starts in on how he needs money for… surgery? I think.
The thing is, everyone always needs money. Their mother died, the grandfather needs cataract surgery, brother’s in jail, aunt is sick, son has cancer, need money to finish building the house, it’s for the poor…
Yeah, we ain’t buying what this guy is selling. 🙂