Bucharest city tales: Friendship across the counter

Columnist Eleonore af Schaumburg-Lippe writes in her weekly column about life as an expat in Romania. This week she tells the story about the girl in the supermarket, and how their lives crossed.

We all of course have to shop once in a while to buy some food, and soon patterns develop, so you end up doing your grocery shopping in the same place. Not something you think about.

But what I had never expected was to find a friend in the supermarket. Friendship is maybe too big a word to use. But here is the story of the friendship across the counter between a Danish girl and a Romanian girl working in the supermarket.

I can’t remember her name, she did tell me once, but I must admit I have forgotten. So for the sake of the story I will call here. Mrs. Sunshine. I have a tendency to remember faces well, but not names.

Doing my usual shopping in the supermarket next to me, I would come by the little shop quite often.

It all began one day when I entered the shop, usually Mrs.Sunshine was smiling as she was working behind the counter, but this day she was not smiling and looked worried, and I asked her if she was OK, as she was not smiling. She answered that she was having a bad day with a grumpy face; I answered me too, which made her laugh. This became a habit, next time I went to the shop I would ask good day, bad day, and she would ask me the same.

Often I would come by on my way from or to some event, and she would always ask me where I was going, and I would tell her stories about what I had experienced.

She truly worked a lot, the shop is open from morning until midnight, and she was there every day, except one day off weekly. She said she didn’t experience a lot, just work and then staying home, and because of this she liked my stories about what I was doing, saying that in a way, she could share a little part of it all. She was around the same age as me, so I found it a little sad, so I tried to involve her a bit in my life.

And whenever I had friends or family members visiting I would introduce them to Mrs. Sunshine, so after some months she truly knew a lot about my life, and she would ask me how is this or this person.

One day when I got to the shop, there was a strange atmosphere; you could just cut the air. I saw my friend, and she was not in a good mood at all, actually she was almost in tears, she went out from the service counter, and asked if I had a minute, I was a bit surprised, since mainly it had been a short talk over the counter, we had shared, but I could see that something had happened, and the fact that she felt she could talk me was actually quite a compliment.

She told me that she had sent a colleague of her down to the bank with a significant amount to change into small coins for the weekend. The problem was that after around two hours, he had not returned to the shop, his phone was switched off, and no one was answering his door. She said he had run away with the money. I knew which guy she was talking about and was quite surprised, just as she was, he didn’t seem like the type.

She worried for her job, I told her, that she shouldn’t worry, she did a good job, and if she had sent the guy out to change money before of course she thought she could trust him.

The problem was that this time, she had given him more money than ever before, and apparently he couldn’t handle it.

In the following days I went by the shop to get updates on the story, and after some days in dilemma she could happily tell me that they wanted to keep her, so she was not fired, but the guy had never reappeared.

Then one day she told me, that it was her birthday, and I decided to go out and buy her a birthday present. I made a basket for her with shampoo, perfume and a bracelet, so she could spoil herself.

She almost burst into tears, she came out and gave me a big hug, saying that it was the best birthday present she had gotten in years. Afterwards she would wear the bracelet and tell me how much she liked it.

One day I had to tell her, that I was moving to another place, so I wouldn’t come by so often, she was very sad to hear this, but I promised to come back to say hello. We said goodbye and wished each other well.

Sadly, when I went back a week ago, she wasn’t there. I asked a colleague what had happened to her and she told me that Mrs. Sunshine together with her parents had moved to Focsani to begin a new life there and apparently it was going well.

So unfortunately I couldn’t say hello again and keep my promise. I don’t expect Mrs. Sunshine to read Romania Insider, but if she does, I truly wish her all the best, and thank her for the conversations across the counter we had.

By Eleonore af Schaumburg-Lippe, columnist

Eleonore is Danish, she holds a BA in Organization and Management and specializes in Corporate Communication & Strategic Development. She is also a Market Economist and a Multimedia Designer. She is currently working in Bucharest as the Executive Director of UAPR the Romanian Advertising Association. As a Danish Viking in Romania, with a great passion for ’covrigi’, she has a burning desire to find out more about Romania especially Bucharest, and enlighten the small differences in the culture between Denmark and Romania.. Her weekly columns will give you insights into an expats life in Bucharest written with humor and a big Danish smile.

(photo source: Photoxpress.com)


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