My excursion at the end of last week was not exactly a Madame Karitska-like shopping expedition. Instead of walking to an elegant department store to look at silks, I went by car to one of the many enormous concrete structures with open pipes running along the ceiling where the surplus of our consumerist society is sold at rock-bottom prices on the outer edges of our cities. (If anyone is curious 😉 as to why that sentence sounds so disapproving, they can watch “The Story of Stuff” on YouTube.)
I wanted to go to a particular clothing store to get some plain black trousers for work, and since a friend was driving that direction she kindly offered to take me with her. We went and got my pants first and then drove on. I had nothing else on my shopping list and don’t like getting conned into buying things I really don’t need no matter how cheap they are. (I’m an especial sucker for fleece blankets but, really, there are only so many I can use at one time.) I decided to treat the shopping trip as a curiosity exercise. And it helped. Walking through an open-air market on a beautiful day or browsing in a local arts and crafts store might offer a more manageable and pleasant experience, an experience that encourages one to linger, but I was nonetheless interested in the variety, quality, and prices of the goods and appreciated the relative good humor of the shoppers and, above all, the cashiers.