Gin-gin flex on them.

I'm standing in line waiting for the deli clerk to assist me so that I can order fifty leis worth of olives.1 Olives that are on special order from Master and that I took a return trip2 to the "grocery store" for. The woman next to me is crowding me by walking to my right side then my left side then back to my right. I take a deep breath to stop myself from being annoyed by her presence. Hey, you know possibly she also doesn't speak Romanian and was ordered to go to the store. Maybe we'll have to battle it out for the remaining olives - plenty of large cheese wheels to hit her in the head with if it comes to it. These olives haven't been in stock since before Christmas, so I'm ready to go toe-to-toe with anyone in my way. Actually, this is the premiere grocery store and nothing has been in stock since before New Years. Have you ever seen the egg section completely empty? No, how about bare vegetable crates? Yeah me either until I got to the carrefour on January 3rd.

Now that I'm thinking of it, I only see a small amount of olives in the bowl. Oh, I can order we go. Luckily for me, the cashier speaks English and I explain to her that please give me fifty lei worth of olives. She shakes her head to signal no. I look at her with pleading eyes and I know we both know she can't do that. Right, because instead of being able to spend the fifty lei that I have in my pocket I can now only spend five. I ask her to give me all of the remaining olives. The clerk rummages around looking for more olives and finds none... just my luck. I wonder if anyone else in the store is having a similarly devastating moment. Life on the wire, right? I take the tiny package which contains a small amount of olives 3 and head to the check out line. Does stocking items actually mean that the store just orders one item from all of the vendors in a category? Pretty sure you can just use an electronic order management system instead of people for this, but I'm also sure they can use traffic lights instead of roundabouts.4

As per tradition, all of the lines are long so I step into the first one I see.5 I am behind a big guy in line whom is slowly loading his goods onto the belt. He begins to speak Romanian to me and I understand from his gesturing that I can go ahead of him. He then makes a follow up gesture to the self checkout line and mumbles something to which I show my sweet ten lei. You see, this store only has self checkout lines that accept card as payment. As I'm checking out I have the distinct feeling that I've been here before. Oh right, this afternoon.....

While having coffee in town we were reminiscing about the time that I came downstairs to a surprise naked ice cream party. The ice cream was from a shop in town close by. So, I trade my passport to Master for 200 lei to spend on ice cream. I leave the coffee shop in somewhat of a panic for a few reasons. I have not been to the ice cream place in a while, I get nervous easily, and I must get back to the car before anyone else arrived.6 Well, what do you think? Did I find it in time?!

The ice cream shop, Leonidas, was open but no ice cream was in site. Apparently some weirdos don't stock ice cream in winter. Fuck me I thought while running back to the car... All I need now is for them to have gotten to the car before me. I make it to the parking lot7 and the car is still sitting there. I'm now waiting outside of the car feeling the cold wind hitting my face and looking around at the dull brown colors of the buildings surrounding me. This city is especially ugly in the winter without any vegetation to provide some color contrast to the dull and decrepit man made surroundings. It's especially charming with the construction that never seems to have any progress besides spawning new construction in surrounding areas. I'm sad and disappointed at not being able to do something which I was sent off to do. I would have liked to deliver something good but this country tries its best to prevent you from doing so. Didn't this exact thing happen recently? Ohh right the search for zacusca.....

One of the few good things about Romania is the zacusca. After many taste tests of different brands and flavors we finally found the perfect zacusca.8 It's true that this exact zacusca is perfect for tuna, eggs, pork, polenta...etc. but its also almost nowhere to be found. To be more specific - it took us a trip to three stores before we found a jar. The first store we tried is the Costco of Romania EXCEPT without keeping a regular stock of products.9 I would have never imagined that stores could sell pallets of items but not replace them. Unless of course, dogs are actual store managers. They would look really cute with a button up shirt, tie, and a clip board. The second store is a major grocery store which is on almost all major intersections in Timisoara. This store does not carry even one jar of the type we are looking for. The third store we tried out of desperation (since they were the least likely to have it) and bought the last nine jars that were stocked. While loading the jars into the cart I couldn't help but think of my time at Gin-Gin Flex.....

When we first arrived in Timisoara it was decided that I needed a mattress. At this point in my life, I had almost no interaction with Romanians or what it meant to have to search a town in need of a common item. Some days I miss having wide eyes. The first store we looked for a mattress in was set up in such a way that the store was composed of showcases instead of sections. If you want a mattress you have to visit a dozen show cases and dig through the bedding, pillows, and frame just to look at a single mattress. Pretty dumb. We left the store quickly and haven't been back since. I remember thinking about all of the mattress stores in the states. The small town that I was from had a least six pure mattress stores.10

The next store we were trying is named Gin-Gin Flex, small, and is painted purple. I dodge a mattress that's canopying over the entrance and narrowly avoid walking over one on the floor. The place is filled with wall to wall to floor mattresses. A little old woman appears from seemingly nowhere and explains to us that we can pick out whichever 'Italian' mattress that we would like but they don't deliver. So no, you are not going to get help from the person who works at the mattress store to carry the mattress nor are you going to be able to have it delivered. This place is a true flex. On to the next one.


The next one being the major construction/home goods store of the area. The place had great mattresses and I enjoyed bouncing from mattress to mattress until I found the perfect one; however, the employees refused to help us take it from a standing stack to either our cart or the car. I'm still not really sure how they can claim to sell mattresses or have employees. With this logic our house is a bar since we have a large collection of liquors and no we wont get it for you, you can't take it to your car, and your money is no good here.

The register ding brings me back from my memory and I hand over five lei...

Cheers to whatever things may be missing next.
May we always find you.

  1. I struggled with the phrasing of this sentence because no numbering system exists for ordering from the deli in Romania. No little red machines guys that you pull out numbers from. You may be wondering how you know when its your turn. You don't really, just connect with your mob mentality and mean mug the person next to you until the person behind the counter notices you want something. []
  2. Ya see, we got home with the olives and he liked them so much that he sent me right back to the store to get more. []
  3. The small amount is actually less than the original amount we came home with. []
  4. Roundabouts are a real mess in Timisoara by creating/enabling traffic. People are to afraid to merge and there is a light-less pedestrian lane cutting through the traffic going straight through the roundabout car entrances. Drivers entering the roundabout on the right will turn on their left blinker. It's like a hedgehog running in circles came up with the system. []
  5. The lines may be so long because not everyone uses bags to pack their groceries. What they do is load the items from their cart onto the belt and then reload them from the belt directly into their cart. Only to place them into their vehicle as free standing objects. Perhaps they don't actual have a pantry or cupboards and will just run to their trunk when an item is needed in the kitchen. This is the best reasoning I can offer. []
  6. I was told to meet them at the car but the implication is that I better be there first. []
  7. This is only one of three public parking lots for the entire city centre. I'm actually surprised that they even had the foresight to create one parking lot. []
  8. I'm greedy so therefore not telling you which brand/flavor it is, more for us - haha. []
  9. Well that and the store prevents paying customers from parking in the entire first lane. Nothing says customer service like walk your cart loaded with bulk products to the back. []
  10. At one point, my dad got rid of the mattress that was in my childhood bedroom and wanted to buy me another one. I stayed home when my brother and him went to look for mattresses. Our family almost exclusively bought furniture from one store named Lenards. Apparently, the two of them went to Lenards and asked for the cheapest twin mattress they sold. Well, the store didn't have the cheapest mattress in stock and he didn't want to order it. So, then he asked for the second cheapest mattress and it was also out of stock. This is how I ended up with the third cheapest twin mattress in Lenards. I really do appreciate my dad not making me sleep on the floor....or that cot that we had tried first. Also shout out to Lenards which has since changed its name to Couch Potato. []

2 Responses to “Gin-gin flex on them.”

  1. autoridad says:

    This is brilliant, it captures Timi life so beautifully and concise. Welcome to the "civilised" part of Romania.

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