Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Georgetown, Exumas, Bahamas

0 nm
Wind: E 10-15 knots

We bought $500 worth of provisions today. Gulp. That’s half of our remaining budget, at least at last count. We may dig up a couple of extra hundred dollars here or there, but that’s our money to get us to the Dominican Republic. We may have to just start charging it, as so many cruisers do out here, and try to find a place to earn money later. So I have at least a hundred pounds of produce hanging above my head in hammocks right now: Granny Smith apples, butternut squash, oranges, cabbages, plantains, sweet potatoes, garlic. There’s 25 pounds of onions (the bruised ones) and thirty limes sitting on the settee beside me. We still don’t have any ice, and we’re praying that the lamb chops we bought frozen today will keep on their own recognizance until tomorrow.

We’ve become good at figuring out what keeps and what doesn’t, but we may have gone over the deep end. Lin Pardey can keep this quantity of produce fresh and delicious, but I’m afraid it’s going to be a fulltime job for me. Lin Pardey can also leap tall buildings in a single bound.

It was a devastating experience, too. We have to get better at it than we were. We had talked exhaustively about what and how much to buy, and Karl had gone through the store with a manager last week, who had made a list and told us that we would get a ten-percent discount on our bulk order. Karl even questioned him: “On everything?” “On everything,” the guy assured him.

In retrospect, we took that statement for granted. We should have confirmed it with every authority figure we encountered, like the manager we talked to yesterday about the produce boat, and even the manager on today, before we started loading our three grocery carts full. Shopping is always a conflict-filled event for us, even in the best circumstances--I lobby for luxury food like meats, coffees, and cheeses, so we don’t end up eating cabbage and rice for the next two months straight, and Karl falls on the side of ramen. Always ramen. Argh. So by the time we had our carts lined up to check out, and I kept running around the store grabbing last-minute items that we had agreed on, we were barely on speaking terms.

Then the moment of truth: Karl queried the cashier, “Don’t we get a ten-percent discount?” She giggled and called the tall, obnoxious manager over, the one who had been eyeing us with annoyance all day and had already been pulled to the cash register for voids four times during our checkout. What did he do? He laughed in our faces. Laughed. In our faces. I’m trying very hard not to hate him to the core of my being, not to wish evil things on him and his children, but I’m having a tough time. I was speechless with rage by the time we left the store. Speechless. I wouldn’t look anyone in the eye, not even Dan and Dee, who had been gracious enough to tow our dinghy to the dock. The cashier was extremely gracious--she knew I was upset, and ran out to help me box up my eight dozen eggs and give me the postcards I had forgotten.

Still. I had budgeted for that ten percent. Karl and I had carefully plotted and schemed, gone into the grocery store at least five times to check prices and negotiate what we could afford and what we couldn’t, had even decided to use our credit card, which carried a five-percent penalty, because at least we’d get five percent off. I had even allowed myself to buy coffee, thinking it would only be nine dollars instead of ten, and a small container of mushrooms, and cream cheese--all splurging items that I justified by saying at least I was getting ten percent off. We wouldn’t have bought half that much if we hadn’t been expecting the discount. Worst of all, we would’ve been out of here earlier, because I could have been slowly accumulating staples rather than thinking I needed to buy everything at once.

It’s our fault, I know. We should have confirmed it, we should have pressed the issue, or at least, we should have put half of everything back. Kicked up a fit. It had all already been rung up, so if we had tried to back out, it would have thrown the management into an uproar. I don’t know if the other manager was just lying to us or didn’t know what he was talking about. They did give us ten percent off on the case lots of onions and tomatoes we bought, but not on the tuna and corned beef. They even charged us double for the corned beef, meaning they owe us fifty dollars. We still had to pay the five-percent credit-card fee, which cost us $23.

It was all I could do to keep from dissolving into tears when we got back to the boat. So much of our hard-earned cash gone in one fell swoop, and so much more than we expected. If we hadn’t been overcharged, and we had gotten our ten-percent off, we would have paid $400 for the same amount of food. Every hundred bucks makes a difference these days. If only we had known, we would have sought out Bahamian farmers, different markets, or waited until the Dominican Republic and bought less.

I have to sigh, and thank God for the food we have, how well (and healthy!) we’ll eat in the coming days, and pray blessings on the mean manager from hell. And in so doing pour burning coals on his head. We’ll do better next time. Every time we learn. It would have never happened to Lin Pardey, I know. Then again, she’s had thirty years of practice.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think I know that manager. He's a jerk. You're smart to provision in George Town. Luperon has scarce supplies and you usually need to do the all-day-trip down to the capital to really stock up.

Once you get to Puerto Rico, provisioning is no problem. But still requires a trip across the island to Sam's Club to really replenish your supplies.

Good luck; Fair Winds (or clean fuel)

s/v Galena
Westsail 32