On a recent visit to the same large supermarket that brought us the intriguing practice of “bag wrapping” – yet another rather over the top security feature has been added to the store.
A security system has been installed on the small cosmetics aisle of the shop – and only on this aisle. It seems rather odd and I have personally not come across this type of ‘aisle specific’ security measure before. The main entrance to the shop is fitted with a security system just as most shops are around the world – so you would think that this main system alone would be enough to catch thieves. Obviously this aisle is a hot spot for theft and extra measures have had to be taken!
I mentioned in a very early blog post about having to store your shopping bags in lockers when you enter a different shop. This is very common in most grocery stores and some supermarkets. It is a way to deter thieves from being able to slip an item into their shopping bag which they might have from another store. This concept is rarely seen in the UK and you can take your shopping bags in all kinds of shops without it being a problem.
Recently, in Romania, I have experienced this idea on a much larger scale at a very large supermarket. On entering the shop, if you have shopping from another shop, you are asked by a member of security staff to join a queue to have your bags, and even larger personal bags (rucksacks/large bags), wrapped in plastic. Your bag is put onto a machine that encases your items in a brightly coloured plastic wrap and is then heat-sealed. You are allowed to carry small to medium sized handbags without having to wrap them up – but anything bigger must be wrapped. Once your items/bags have been wrapped, you can then go about your normal shopping routine. It seems strange that such large measures must be taken to prevent stealing. With CCTV and security tags/alarm systems, you would think that such an extreme measure of wrapping peoples’ bags wouldn’t be necessary.
Coming from a relatively small town in England, I am very used to smiling at strangers and other people in the street. Here, however, it seems to be an entirely different matter.
I found out in my first few weeks here that, generally, your smile is met with a blank look of indifference or surprise. As a frequent smiler, I found this very hard to accept and was determined I would smile at everyone in an attempt to start some kind of trend. It hasn’t really worked, although I have found that since getting a dog, I receive more smiles.
I brought this topic up with a Romanian couple that I know here in Oradea, and they agreed with my findings and imparted this little pearl of local wisdom to me:
“If you’re smiling in the street…people assume you stole something”
I found it a very surprising but sad statement; smiling should be seen primarily as a good thing, not an indication of something bad! It goes to show how different perspectives can be in different countries, even regarding something as small as a facial gesture.
It is just not custom here to smile at people that you do not know. I still find it a little bit strange but have learnt not to take blank reactions to heart – and I do continue to relentlessly smile at strangers.