Wednesday, February 5, 2014

"Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!"

Feeling like an expert, my friend "V" and I set off for our second trip to TESCO in the city of BrÄ›clav, Czech Republic.  What is TESCO, you ask?  It is a British owned grocery and merchandise outlet and according to Dr. Google, the 2nd most profitable retailer in the World.  Imagine a Super WalMart plopped behind the lines of a former Iron Curtain country.  Since Austria has yet to invite TESCO across her borders, we jumped in the car this week for the hour drive into the promised land of cheap chicken and kielbasa, as well as other savings on food and household items.

We're Off to See The Wizard!
Follow The Yellow Brick Road
Although the Czech Republic is a European Union member, the currency is still the Czech Koruna, also known as the Czech Crown.  The Euro to Crown exchange favors the Euro so even when you factor in the gas expense, the savings add up.  

.35 Euro Cent Pasta
V and I make a good shopping team.  We wander the aisles with our lists, catching up with each other to compare shopping carts and good bargains.  Eventually, we make our way to the last stop before check-out, the meat section.  The meat haul during our combined two visits is impressive.  Packages of chicken breast, chicken thighs, chicken this and that, several types of kielbasa, frankfurters, salami, beef roast and cooked rotisserie chickens.  We bought 5 rotisserie chickens this week, 3 for V and 2 for me.  Two quick and important points about the cooked chickens (1) They are absolutely delicious (2) You pay for them as soon as they are wrapped and bagged in the back of the store.

With our TESCO Shoppers Club Cards and Bank Austria VISAs firmly in hand, we headed toward our separate check-out lanes.  This is where things head south for yours truly.   You're really not surprised, are you?

As I'm loading my 12,000 items on the conveyer, I accidentally put my 2 ABP (Already Been Paid) chickens in the mix.  However, the receipt is stapled to V's chicken, located 4 check out lanes south of my location.  It might as well have been Belarus.  As my check-out process comes to a standstill, an animated phone call to the back of the store begins and wouldn't you know, a line of people start forming behind the remaining 6,000 items on the conveyor.  This is where I decide to yell across the store, "Hey V, will you bring me the chicken with the receipt?"  The evidence arrives and I start swinging the chicken at the clerk chanting "Already Been Paid! Already Been Paid!"  What this means in Czech, I have no idea, but the phone call ends and the goods start rolling.

Thinking danger has passed, I stand poised with my VISA card and swipe it at the appointed time.   Just imagine my surprise when the clerk points to the card machine and says "Peen."

WTF and a chuckle fly through my mind.

"Uh, no PIN" I reply showing her my VISA, "credit card."

We start to back and forth "Peen"  -  "No Pin" and then a little louder "PEEN"  -  "NO PIN"

I even managed a couple of, "NO PEEN! Kredit Karte!" to see if my attempt at a local Czech accent would bridge the language barrier.  No go.  Peen.

The crowd begins to grumble.  The clerk starts conversing with the woman buying a mere 6 items waiting behind me, about me, no doubt.  I just spent over 4000 Czech Crowns and only a peen stands between me and the promised land.  Finally, I think to pull out an ATM card, enter my peen, and all is well.

In the meantime, V arrived to help me bag items, the line surged forward and the crowd remained watching as we navigated our overloaded carts out of the store.  I enjoyed a Miss America moment, smiling, waving, and thanking our new friends for their patience.

Will we return to TESCO?  Hell YES!  Next time, the only crown I'll be wearing will look like this:

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