I had an interesting experience in a grocery store in Berlin a couple of weeks ago. A girl was walking through the aisles and I noticed she had a basket she was wheeling and was tasting a sample of some food in a jar she held. I was a bit puzzled, but figured she must have been hungry and was just sampling some of her pickings before heading home. But I noticed her just a few moments later still in the jar food aisle about to open another jar. I looked at her and she looked at me quickly before darting into another aisle, jar and cart in hand.
This behavior was strange, but I’m the foreigner here so who was I to question it. It wasn’t until I made a quick run back to the veggie aisle that I saw her munching on some apples or something else, her previous cart mysteriously disappeared, and I chose to ignore her and head for the cashier. I debated telling the cashier well I had witnessed, but as she didn’t speak any English, I realized my effort would be futile.
Then as I was about to head out of the store, I looked left and saw the girl in the dairy aisle chugging milk and yogurt products. Okay, this was definitely strange behavior. I tried to size her up, her hair was a bit ratty, but she wasn’t dressed in rags or anything, so I couldn’t quite figure out her situation.
I walked back to another cashier who told me he spoke English and I informed him that a girl was walking around his store eating food and putting it back on the shelves. He looked at me with a dull look in his eyes, in front of other patrons and said, “okay, and?” to which a few people giggled and looked at me with a look of, “what?” I replied, “Okay, just thought you might want to know!” and headed out of the store, wondering if it was even worth telling the staff in the first place.
I think it was complete tattle-tale guilt. The girl was clearly eating and drinking at the store, which is dirty and pretty disgusting, but at the same time, what if she had nowhere else to go to eat. What if she had no money to feed herself? Or no home to go back to with food.
Of course, I have no idea her real life situation, but I will admit that I’m secretly grateful the cashier blew me off like it was a stupid comment, so I didn’t have to feel the guilt of them escorting her out!