Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Human vs. HAL: Weighing produce

You wish it were this simple to buy apples!

This post is part of a series “Human vs. HAL” highlighting a peculiar trend we’ve noticed in Chile. There are many jobs here that are done by people that would be done by machines in the US. We are trying to take photos and notice as many as possible to document here!

Grocery stores in Santiago are very modern, and quite similar to grocery stores in the US. There are even some Chilean grocery stores, such as Jumbo, that are bigger and offer more items than what I'm used to at home. However, as we've seen in many other parts of Chilean life, the grocery store also features some extra jobs that wouldn't exist in the US.
The produce weighing guy
At every Chilean grocery store, buying fresh produce or fresh bread is a complicated multi-step process. If you put a bunch of bananas in your cart and go to check out, you will be redirected back to the produce section, because you missed a step! You have to take all your bags of produce to be weighed and labeled by a person who works a scale in the produce section. Same deal for bread: you make a bag of fresh bread rolls, take it to be weighed and labeled, and only then can you check out

I surmise that this came to exist in days before digital scales at check-out stations. At that time, I suppose you had to weigh your produce before going to checkout and you'd get a little ticket so the cashier knew what to charge you (maybe it used to work with way in the US?).

But these days, in the US, the scanners at the check out line also have built-in scales so all of this can be done in one step. In Chile, you have to visit a few different people before you can go to the checkout line!

Bonus story
If you want to buy bread at a smaller bakery shop, the process is even more complicated! Usually it works like this:

  1. Wait in line to be helped at the bread counter, and then tell the person what bread you'd like. They make a bag and hold onto it for you.
  2. Go wait in another line to pay. At the front of this line, you tell them what you ordered and pay, and then you receive a ticket in return showing what you've paid for.
  3. Go wait in another line with your ticket and hand it over to get your bag of bread.
If this sounds ridiculous, it really is!

1 comment:

  1. The produce-buying process is the same in Spain! Also, I was surprised to find that "fruterías de autoservicio" (produce shops where you could pick out your own produce instead of having a man do it for you) were not the norm.