Coming from America
Randy Legersky


When Ema was traveling with me on our honeymoon, the authorities never questioned her about why she was traveling, where she was going or how long she planned to stay. They didn?t ask us about our hotel reservations or other travel plans, they just let us pass. I always showed my U.S. passport first, then she showed her passport. Since we had the same last names in our passports they assumed we were married and treated us both like Americans. In the E.U. countries, Romanians are required to have proof of 100 Euros a day, proof of where they are staying, return transportation tickets.

After the honeymoon?daily life

Soon, I started to settle into everyday married life, grocery shopping, meals, buying our apartment, and finding out that we were going to have a baby!!

Grocery shopping

When he first visited Bucharest, the supermarket frightened Laurentio, Ema?s 16-year-old brother. I found this amusing and I was curious to find out why he didn?t like to go to Mega Image, but was happy to shop in the open market or at a small store. I asked why he was uncomfortable at the supermarket. Because you take the goods yourself, directly from the shelves, rather than asking a person behind a counter for things, he thought that the store employees would think he was stealing.

After a few months in Romania, I adjusted to the ?casa? system of many alimentary stores.  I had only ever known to ask for an item and pay for it or to take the item from the shelf in a store (big or small) and then pay the cashier. Each type of food has its own department ? one for meats, one for dry goods, one for dairy, and another for fish. It really confused me at first to tell the worker at a food department what I wanted. Then you get a ticket with the name and price of the item written on it. Then, you go to a cashier to pay the amount and get a receipt, and finally, you go back to the counter of the department and get the item you purchase and have the worker tear your receipt.

This system?s greatest flaw was revealed to me one day when the receipt tore when the cashier took it from the register. The person at the department would think I was trying to steal the item with an old receipt. Luckily, the seller and the cashier were in shouting distance of each other and so the cashier was able to tell the seller that the receipt ripped. From my point of view, I think this system is very inefficient. It takes a lot longer to shop, so it is not serving the consumer very well, and it takes more employees, more salaries and therefore higher food prices for the consumer. At first, I thought the system was meant to stop theft, but they have uniformed employees and plain-clothes security in the super-market, plus electronic alarms to stop shoplifting in the super markets. Now I think it is just another shadow of the communist system which was set up to ration goods equally and wasn?t concerned at all about workplace efficiency and customer service.

More and more stores seem to be replacing this ?casa? system for a direct check out system that I know from the West.

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