At the grocery stores in Shenyang, you can buy produce in two ways. You can select produce from bulk: you select what you want, then have it weighed and a price tag stuck on it (see my cow turd papaya story for a similar experience). The other way is to select pre-packaged produce. A bar code on the package tells the price.
Last week at the grocery store, I attempted to buy some green peppers. I selected some pre-packaged peppers. At the check-out counter, when she was ringing up my purchases, the clerk said that the package didn’t have a bar code, so she couldn’t ring it up. I asked if she could check the price, and she said no. Apparently, price checks are not part of the grocery store culture in China. She set aside my green peppers and rang up the rest of my purchases.
No green peppers for me that day!
Today, I went grocery shopping, and again wanted green peppers (I don’t have a fetish about green peppers, I just happen to like them). I selected my pre-packaged peppers, and this time, I remembered to check for a bar code. Yes, I will get green peppers today! I thought to myself triumphantly. I have learned the system, and it will not defeat me! Green peppers for me today!
Then I noticed that one of the peppers in my package had some flaws. So I switched to another package that had flawless peppers. Nothing was wrong with that package of green peppers! Onward to green pepper triumph!
Except that the package was missing a bar code. A small detail that I didn’t notice at the time.
Again at checkout, the clerk told me that my green peppers were tagless, so she couldn’t ring them up.
Green peppers: denied. Again.