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MAJOR ISRAELI SUPERMARKET IN BEERSHEVA
(above) Abraham gathers honey-toasted pecans from many bulk-food choices
From huge cities like Tel Aviv to countryside towns I would say most of the businesses we encountered were small family businesses. But every now and again we found what I would call an "American" sized business. In Pittsburgh our local chain of supermarkets (Giant Eagle) has an upscale version called "Market District". This supermarket in BeerSheva was similar.
This was one of the few times in Israel we felt like we were experiencing anything similar to the U.S. One could almost imagine being in this store in a U.S. suburb.
HOWEVER, once at the checkout there was NO DOUBT we were in Israel.
Now hear me, many of the clerks we encountered in businesses in Israel were very customer-service oriented and very helpful. BUT ... there is a certain attitude that shows up in numerous cash-register workers in Israel. You get the distinct feeling that, without words, you are being told "You are wasting me time, you are keeping me from looking at my phone, and I'd wish you would just go away." The attitude is given to Israelis and tourists alike.
In the picture below, it felt like I nearly started and international crisis!
While the checkout person was working on the order in front of ours, I gathered 4 plastic grocery bags from the checkout line next to ours (I didn't see any in our line.)
When the checkout person was ready to ring our order I put the bags down in the bagging area and waited for her to begin ringing our order. Which she did NOT.
She just stared at me, and then gave a quick glance at the bags. I then saw she had a supply of bags tucked up under her computer screen (which I hadn't been able to see from the "conveyor-belt" part of the line.
My experience in Israel then quickly informed me as to what was happening.
1) There was a charge for each plastic grocery bag. (Mind you these were the "regular" bags found by the millions in grocery stores, not special or "reusable" bags... but I had learned even these, at times, come at a price."
2) In order to control access to the bags (so no one could escape without paying for them!) she kept the bags in her line where only SHE could reach them.
3) She wanted to know how many bags I had so she could charge me.
All this happened in silence as she glared at me.
The situation was resolved when I simply said, "Four" (the number of bags I had obtained from the other checkout lane.)
She gave a final glare, entered the charge on her screen, and proceeded to ring up our order.
Don't be surprised, if in Israel - even if there is NO charge for the plastic bags - if none are used to bag up your order.
We had it happen numerous times where after our order was run up, we asked for bags, and the checkout person basically through a few bags in our direction, rather than bagging the order for us.
It doesn't mean the checkout person doesn't like you ... it is just the way it is, the way it works in many Israeli stores.