On Sunday night we went out to eat at our local dive bar. BECAUSE WHERE ELSE WOULD WE EAT OUR SUNDAY DINNER? I had a Jack and Coke and when Max suggested Yogurtland after dinner - something I usually would say no to because we have ice cream at home - I said "Sounds good."
Besides, I was tired from saying "No" all day long.......and who doesn't like frozen yogurt?
No one, that's who.
So we troop into our local self-serve frozen yogurt place, and go through the line:
Grab a cup
Choose your flavor
Dispense your yogurt
Put ice cream on scale
Give them the money
It's easy. Really. Lucy - who is five and can't even reach the levers of the yogurt machine - knows the routine. She chooses her flavor and then holds her cup up and waits for someone to fill it with yogurt-y goodness. Then she tried to get us to pour 3 pounds of toppings on it.
Nice try Lucy. Ask your father. I'm sure HE won't say no.
So we're all sitting there enjoying our yogurt, and this threesome comes in.
Oh good lord you over there - are you snickering? THAT'S MATURE. I seriously doubt they would be into anything like tha.....hm. Well, maybe. ANYWAY they weren't dong THAT in Yogurtland.
In fact, they didn't seem to know WHAT they were doing in Yogurtland.
They walked in, in their sensible shoes and their sensible haircuts and their sensible cardigans and their ergonomic shoulder bags and I immediately thought to myself "Euros".
And apparently, they do not have self-serve yogurt shops in Europe.
These people stood there - for several minutes - looking at the topping bar. Seemingly unaware of the entire wall of yogurt machines about a foot to their left. They looked and pointed and whispered over the various fruits and nuts and cookies and candies, and then looked up. They needed some assistance.
Only, seriously, it is so self-explainatory - and not to mention SELF SERVE - that the cashier was a bit confused about what, exactly, they needed her to tell them.
And then there was the language barrier.
"May we have cup for ice cream?"
"Oh, you want to try it? Sure." And she gave them small paper sample cups, that held about a tablespoon of yogurt.
"May we have more cups?"
"Um, okaaaay." she gave them a few more cups.
"Beeger.....OH BIGGER cups! Yes, they are right over there -" she pointed to the end of the bar where neat stacks of cups were lined up for, you know, the taking. Because it's self serve.
"And do we-?" they inquired, making a milking gesture towards the machines, as though the handles were perhaps cow udders.
Now the cashier was in the swing of things. These people didn't want help - they needed HELP.
She showed them how to use the machines, then stepped back.
They each - carefully - filled a small sample cup of yogurt - unwilling to commit until they had tasted this curious WHATEVER IT WAS. We were all staring at them, giggling discreetly, trying not to stare but MY GOD it was like they just landed from another planet, so bewildered were they by the machines and the cups and the flavors and the toppings and the complexity of it all. In fact, they were so blown away by this incredible yogurt experience, they began videotaping each other serving the yogurt, posing next to their chosen flavor, holding the sample cup aloft, smiling for the camera proudly.
"Oh. My. God." muttered Lucy. "What are they doing?"
After all manner of licking and nibbling and slurping their samples - which we all watched with facination - they returned to the machines - WITH THE SAME SAMPLE CUPS - and refilled them.
"You know," I said, after realizing that my mouth was hanging open "I don't think I can actually watch this."
"Mmmm." agreed Sami "Glad we already got OUR frozen yogurt, know what I'm saying?"
After watching the guy slurping away at his sample cup for the second time as he headed back toward a machine for more "sampling" I stood up. "That is just gross."
The cashier was running towards him with a stack full of the sample cups, but the guy demurred. No need to waste perfectly good paper sample cups, he'll just use the same one, thanks.
Now the manager was involved. She stood, behind the register, watching. At first with fascination and then, increasingly, with displeasure. What the HELL were these people doing? Were they gong to just sample their way through the store? We exchanged looks as I left, shaking our heads in disgust over the NERVE of some people. "Can I have the keys?" I asked Sami. He dug them out of the pocket and explained, in an overly-solicitous voice that the manager and cashier both found hysterical "THIS right here - you press THIS BUTTON RIGHT HERE to unlock the doors of the car."
"Which button?" I asked innocently.
"This button. This one RIGHT HERE." he repeated, pointing and showing me how to press the button correctly.
"Okay, I think I've got it now." I replied, and I headed out the door.
Settled in my car, I looked up 5 minutes later to see the threesome huddled around the door, one of them gripping the handle and wildly pulling on it as visible signs of panic set in. MY GOOD GOD (you could see them saying to each other) they were locked in YOGURTLAND. Oh, the indignity of it all. The NERVE of these frozen yogurt people to have complicated machines, and all of those fancy toppings, and trying to make you waste extra cups because these Americans are just so wasteful. And indulgent. And then to keep the doors locked so that you couldn't exit. WHAT IF THERE WAS AN EMERGENCY? They would be trapped in there, and would surely DIE if-
Max couldn't stand it anymore.
He stepped past them, put a hand on the door, and gently pushed it open, then stepped outside to hold the door for them as they tumbled out, relieved to be free of that terrible yogurt place.
As they hurried off, all a-flutter over this crazy experience they had all just shared, my son stood there watching them, shaking his head sadly.
"Sheesh" he said as he got in the car. "We should have taken pictures of THEM."
8 hours ago