Saturday, February 22, 2014

Some of our language mistakes. (And some other things about Uruguayan Spanish.)

Our Spanish is improving a little bit.  We've had a tutor come teach us at our house 4 or 5 days a week for the past few months, so I think we hoped we would have seen more improvement, but oh well.  It's something.

I thought I would just share a few funny Spanish errors that we've made.

I mentioned the grocery store "Tienda Inglesa" in a previous post.  Jeff almost always calls that store "Tienda Iglesia" and it always makes me laugh.  (Tienda Inglesa means "English Store", and Tienda Iglesia means "Church Store".)

When Jeff is talking about things that are old, he very often calls them "viaje" ("trip") instead of "viejo" or "vieja" ("old").  It makes whatever he is talking about sound a lot more exotic because I picture a vacation version of whatever he is talking about. 

My mistakes are usually not as amusing.  Or if they are, I don't know it.  Occasionally I will feel like I am communicating just GREAT and the person I am talking to will seem confused.  Those times I realize I am interjecting some Italian.  A lot of times Italian works here (even if it wouldn't work in other Spanish-speaking places) because there are a lot of Italian immigrants, and the dialect occasionally reflects that.

The Spanish here is not normal Spanish, it is Rio Platense Spanish, so they use a different accent (j and ll sound like "zhu" instead of "yu"), a different tu form (vos), and a lot of different words.  People here also often don't pronounce the ends of words.  This means my ability to communicate depends a lot on who I am talking to.  Sometimes I feel like I speak Spanish quite well, and other times I feel like I don't speak any "Spanish" at all.  It really ranges.

Sometimes I'll get several compliments on my Spanish, and other times the people around me at the store are like "ohhhh, she doesn't speak Spanish" and occasionally people volunteer to help me by translating.  Usually (I think!) I am decent and can communicate but sometimes don't know specific words.  Other times I feel tongue-tied, I can't think of words I need, and just kind of shrug and smile.

I have made a couple dumb mistakes at the grocery store lately.  (A lot of our Spanish interactions are in grocery stores since we have no friends here.)  This one time, I walked up and set my items on the space by the cashier, but she was counting her change.  She told me she was done, and I nodded and then I realized I didn't know if she was done working for then or if she was almost done doing stuff with change or what.  A cashier a couple lanes down announced that his register was open, and I thought he was telling other people.  Then I started to wonder if I was supposed to go to the other line.  So I picked up my stuff and went to the lane of the cashier who was available.  I was only buying a few things, though, so when I left a few moments later I saw that she was helping someone else.  That must have been really weird to tell me that she was just about ready, and then I picked up my stuff and changed lanes.

Or another time recently a cashier was talking to me about Paisley--everyone loves her--and she asked me how old Paisley was, I thought, but I didn't hear her well, so I said nineteen months...but then by how she responded I realized she had actually asked how long we had been in Uruguay.  But it was too tricky to explain that I thought she had said something else (because that's like...past...subjunctive? or some less regular verb tense), so I just went with it.  But I felt like an idiot, because I would really hope that if we had been here for close to two years, I hope that my Spanish would be better.  How embarrassing!  (I think we need more interaction with local people, to practice.)

When we were in Colonia del Sacramento we were out looking for a place open for breakfast and I asked a waitress if they served "desayuno" (des-eye-oon-oh).  She had no idea what I was saying, so I repeated myself a couple times.  She was lost until she suddenly figured it out.  "Ah!  Desayuno!" (des-ah-zhu-no!)  YES.  THAT.   For the longest time I felt almost as if I were making fun of them when I pronounced things their way, since it is not good/real Spanish, and it feels very unnatural to me...but our Spanish teacher has assured us that it doesn't come across as rude, and we agree that it would be nice to be better understood, so I'm working on it.  

But, if I were talking to someone with a Texan accent or a British accent and I suddenly assumed a bad fake accent matching theirs, wouldn't that come across as rude?  And that reminds me of something else that I thought was funny...

Our Spanish teacher speaks English very well.  She speaks American English, but tries to teach us in Spanish unless we don't understand or need a more precise clarification or when we relax a little bit and just want to be understood for a moment.  I think she's been working with us since November.  Somehow, it must have been in mid-January, something came up and I asked her about learning American English (maybe we were talking about how much American TV they get here?) and she admitted that she learned British English in school.  I asked her so, when she is with her friends that speak English, does she speak American or British English.  British English.  She said she actually prefers British English.  Whaaaaatt.....?  All along I had no idea!  She just uses an American accent for while she teaches us.  I thought that was very funny.  It probably helps.

Sorry I have no pictures to go along with this!  Annnd, Paisley just woke up so I had better post this and go help her.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Residency in Uruguay: Adding our Birth Certificates to the Civil Registry

As we've been working to obtain residency in Uruguay it has been a little bit of a process to figure out what we need and where.  There is information online for expats who want residency in Uruguay, but most of it is outdated, so I thought I would post a more recent explanation of what we've been doing, and what they have expected from us.  That way if anybody else is looking for information there is something a little more recent.

Registro Civil, at calle Uruguay 933!
One of the requirements for residency is that we need to be add our birth certificates and marriage certificate to the Uruguay civil registry (Registro Civil).  This is one of the parts that takes the longest, so it is good to do as early as possible.

First of all, you need copies of your birth certificates, marriage certificate (if you're married) and/or divorce decree (if you're divorced).  I can only speak about the process from the United States, since that is where we are from, so it may be different for people from other countries.  Although we did not originally plan to become residents of Uruguay, I had photocopies of our birth certificates and a real copy of our marriage certificate with us just in case we ever needed them.  These copies were useless.  Uruguay has joined the Hague Convention, so in order for documents to be accepted, they need Apostille.  So, we ordered new documents, and apostilles from the United States.  If you know that you're moving to Uruguay, it would be much, much easier to obtain birth certificates and apostilles before you leave the United States! 

After we had our documents and apostilles, I took them to the Ministry of External Relations to be legalized and they just kind of smiled and me and politely assured me that I didn't need anything from them, I just needed to deposit them at the Civil Registry.

I knew they would need to be translated, though.  So, we did that.

Then, we used the translated birth certificates to get our cedulas (identity cards).

Today I took all of our birth certificates to the civil registry.  They told me they will be ready in a month.

So, for those who are looking for more specific details, here is what we did:

1. Obtain documents from the United States.
- We ordered all of our documents online, using VitalChek.   In order for the orders to be processed, each state requires something different for identification: Arizona wanted a copy of Jeff's driver's license and his signature.  At the time that I placed my order, Utah asked me a few questions to verify my identity (the questions were like when you order a credit report).  California was the worst--they required a notarized statement from me saying that I was authorized to request it.  In Montevideo the only place that I know of that offers a United States Notary Public is the US Embassy.  The US Embassy offers notary services only on Tuesday afternoons, only with an appointment, and it costs $50 per document.  They are able to do an ink stamp along with the seal so that it shows up for the scan.  At first this seemed like a huge rip-off, because I am used to getting things notarized for free at my credit union in Utah, but when I compared the cost of using an escribana and apostille from here, it was going to take a couple weeks and cost a few hundred dollars, so then the US Embassy sounded like a bargain.  When you order copies of your certificates, be sure to state that it is for "Apostille" because it needs to be the long form of the certificate, not a short version.  Some states only want to send copies TO the person on the certificate, but that was okay for us because we were using Jeff's parents' address anyway.
- After my in-laws received our certificates, they put them in the mail to send them with Apostille Request forms for each state.  Each state does their own apostilles.  If I remember right, Arizona's cost $3 per apostille, Utah was $15 per apostille, and California was $20 per apostille.  You have to send the original birth certificates with the form and payment to the Secretary of State for the state where the document is from.  Then we had all of the documents with apostilles sent back to my in-laws and they put them in a UPS mailer and sent them to us.

2. Documents DO NOT need to go the the Uruguayan Consulate in the United States.  They used to need to be "legalized" in the US at the Uruguayan Consulate, but now that Uruguay accepts apostilles, documents DO NOT need to be legalized in the United States, and they DO NOT need to be legalized in Uruguay at the ministry of exterior relations (MREE).

3.  Have the documents translated into Spanish by an official public translator.  It has to be an official translator because they need to be able to stamp it with their special stamp.  I had a lot of trouble knowing how to find a public translator.  I have since heard that it is possible to get a list of public translators at the national identity office, but I don't know whether that is true or not.  I eventually found Nelida Kreer who is a public translator that lives in the Pocitos area.  She even has a website, which is kind of unusual for business people here.  I was very, very happy with her.  After I e-mailed her about translation, she replied quickly, and she was able to have my translations done within 24 hours after she received them.  She prefers to work from originals, but since I don't live near Pocitos, she was willing to work off of scans.  After I met with her to pick them up, I could understand why originals would be much better for her--the translations are VERY detailed, including descriptions of borders and colors of seals, impressions that are not visible on scans, etc.  She charged us $695 (in pesos, which is about $35 USD per document) for the translations, plus $120 pesos each for the official stamp (the official sticker is about $6 USD).  When I came to pick them up, I had to bring the originals, and we went through and she read and explained the whole thing to me.  It was important for them to be totally accurate, since you can have problems if something is translated incorrectly.  Her English was very good, which I guess you would expect from an official translator, but it made me feel very comfortable talking with her about it all.  I had my daughter with me for the whole thing--which ended up being kind of a lengthy meeting, since she had to make a few minor corrections since she had been working with scans and I didn't know to tell her about some things that mattered--and anyway, she was awesome about letting Paisley wander around and check stuff out, and play with marbles, etc.  She also showed me at the end, she just wanted me to know that she was giving me a good price, so she showed me the "official" price list was from 2012, and she was giving a lower price even though they were kind of long translations, etc.  Anyway, I believe her, and once I saw what I huge job it was, I feel like she more than earned what we paid.  I highly recommend her, and we will definitely have her do any other official translations that we need in the future.  She is fantastic. 

Copies nearby!  I paid 40 pesos ($2 USD), 3 big sets and a pen.
4. Make complete photocopies of each document.  So, we had the apostille on top, the certificate next, and a few pages of translation beneath.  All of it gets photocopied, double-sided, and stapled together.  I didn't know to do this ahead of time so I spent a little while searching around the Civil Registry for a place that did photocopies.  I found one.  It is just down the street a block from the Civil Registry, at Uruguay 891.

5. Take your whole packet to the Civil Registry, at calle Uruguay 933 in Montevideo.  They are open from 10:15 am to 3:30 pm, BUT the last time to take a number is 3:00 pm, and it really takes a bit longer than that anyway, so it is probably best to try to arrive by 2:45 pm at the latest.  No appointment necessary.  We arrived at about 3:00 pm but without photocopies, and when we came back with copies several minutes later a guard was standing in front and told me they close at 3:00 pm, and he wasn't going to let me back in.  I told him I thought they closed at 3:30, and he said no, 3:00 pm, and when he saw me standing there unsure what to do next he told me okay, I could go back in, but to hurry up.  I was grateful to him for that, because it saved us a drive back to Montevideo!

The desk for adding foreign certificates to the civil registry.
When you arrive at the Civil Registry, it is kind of hard to know where you're supposed to go.  Walk past the cash registers in front, walk past the staircases on your right side, all the way to the back of the building, where you can turn to the right.  If you turn to the right you will see a long desk, with a bunch of books and maybe film, and then to the right of that there is the desk where foreigners can add their certificates to the registry.  There is a thing for you to take a number on the right wall.  Take a number.

To the right are the numbers to take for a turn.
After they call your number, you hand them your stack of documents, and they will look them over to make sure you have official translations, and to make sure you have a set of photocopies.  Then they will give you a cover sheet (no photocopy of that necessary!) and tell you how to fill it out.  You put your name, local address, cedula number, and phone number at the top.  My phone had died and we recently changed numbers so I left the phone number blank, and she didn't like that, she wanted a phone number ("but, what if we need to reach you to ask you about something during processing???"), but I showed her that my phone was dead and volunteered my e-mail address, and she said to go ahead and put that.  I had just picked up our cedulas so I was able to put cedulas for me and Jeff, but Paisley doesn't have a cedula yet so I left hers blank there, and that didn't bother them. 

This is the cover page you fill out.
On the bottom of the form you write your first name, last name, the country the person was born in, and the date of the birth, and then you sign the form at the bottom.  I did the forms for all three of us, and Jeff didn't come.  I had called ahead to make sure they would be fine with him not coming, and they said that was okay.

So, once your form is filled out, you go to the cashier to pay.  The cost to be added to the registry is $513 pesos (about $25 USD).  When you pay the cashier she uses the cash register to print onto the apostille page (I think it was that page?), so they know you've paid.   

Then you take the whole stack back to the foreign section.  They accepted it, and asked me to take a seat.  Probably about 10 minutes later, the lady gave me my photocopied sets of documents back, with a little receipt type thing stapled to them.  She said we can come back in a month and they'll be added to the civil registry.

This is what you get in the end.
So, that's where we are at this point, waiting for a month.  After that, we will need to get copies of our birth certificates and marriage certificate (Uruguay versions) and take them to immigrations to be added to our file.  Or at least the marriage certificate; that is what they specifically requested, but I have read elsewhere that we needed the birth certificates to be in the registry, and I believe that when we go back to renew our cedulas having our birth certificates in the registry makes it so that we can have cedulas that don't have to be renewed as often (our current cedulas are only good for one year).

An interesting note about birth certificates is that I was kind of confused about one of the stipulations from immigrations, that they wanted a copy of the marriage certificate (the Uruguayan one, after it is in the registry) that was less than 30 days old.  I asked our Spanish teacher about that this morning and she said that here in Uruguay you don't get a permanent birth certificate.  They expire pretty quickly.  So the reason our marriage certificate needs to be less than 30 days old is because they don't want an expired copy.  How about that!

Saturday, February 01, 2014

All About Grocery Stores in Uruguay!

Grocery stores in Uruguay are pretty good.

If you don't have anything specific that you're looking for, they seem quite a bit like grocery stores in the United States.  The big stores are usually air conditioned.  Little stores might not be.

The produce section is pretty good.  They don't have as many items as our stores did in the US, but they do have a lot of stuff, and it is all fresh.  I rarely see fruits that are way too underripe or overripe.  Stuff tends to be seasonal.  So, sometimes there are no strawberries or blueberries.  There are a few items that are organic (like, some of the fresh herbs), but most items don't say.  I had heard before that a lot of stuff is organic and just not labeled but at a cooking class with other "foodies" they said no, most of it is not organic.  It is tough for farms to qualify as organic, so if they meet the requirements, they will usually label it.  They said though that a lot of the meat (beef, particularly) may be close to organic because cows are usually grass-fed.

When you buy produce at grocery stores in Uruguay, you put it in a bag yourself, and then take it to an attendant in the produce department who weighs the item and prints a price and barcode sticker to put on your bag.  If you get up to the front without the sticker they can't weigh it there, so someone has to go back to the produce department for the sticker.

There are a TON of meats and cheeses in the deli section.  Many of the cheeses are not refrigerated.  They seem to love ham here.  There are pre-packed (refrigerated!) sections for meat and cheese, but it is popular to use the deli services where they package stuff fresh for you.  Cheeses seem to be hit-and-miss for us.  Mostly, we just miss good cheddar.  They have some "American" type cheese but we can't really eat that.

Uruguayan grocery stores do not have a large selection of imported products.  Many (most?) products say INDUSTRIO URUGUAYO, or they are from Argentina.  There are a few exceptions, but not a ton.  Whatever you're buying, there are usually only a couple choices for brands.  For example, if you're buying Ziploc type bags in the United States, there are like four brands, plus a store brand, and each kind has a few varieties, and several package sizes.  Here, you usually have three choices: Uruguay gallon zip bags that are pretty thin and have a seal that is tough to close, gallon Ziploc brand bags in a package of 9 bags? I think?, or I usually buy a variety pack by Ziploc that has 3 sandwich bags, 3 quart bags, and 3 gallon bags all with zip tops.  If you want brown sugar, there is one brand (bella union) and it isn't very brown (I may post more about that another time).  If you want molasses, too bad.  Vanilla is made by two brands, and they taste the same, or you can buy one (hard?!) vanilla bean at a time in a spice jar, from the same brand.  

They do have Heinz ketchup, A1 steak sauce, Worcestershire sauce and a few other things like that.  Devoto and Tienda Inglesa carry more import products than some of the other little stores.  Imported products are expensive.  When I buy Toblerones they are usually $80 pesos for 100 gram or $130 for 200 gram packages--that's like $4 for the small one or $6 for the large one.  When Jeff buys Haagen Dazs the tiny individual serving is about $2.50 in US dollars, and the pint size of Haagen Dazs is about $10 US dollars.  Ground beef is usually available in three kinds; I get the best one and it is $180 pesos per kilo (about $9 US dollars per kilo).  I think the cheapest ground beef is usually about $120 or $130 per kilo (about $6 US dollars per kilo).  Blueberries in season were $34 pesos for the tiny containers and now they are usually $49 pesos ($1.50-2.50).  For peanut butter there is only one kind and it has hydrogenated oil so we don't buy it.  Fresh salmon ranges from moderately to very expensive; at Devoto we usually pay $399 pesos per kilo (about $20 per kilo) and sometimes it is a few dollars more.  They do sell Nutella.  They have m&ms some places, and Oreos.  There is usually only one brand of pretzels and it has ingredients that we don't like.

The things we miss the most are our special "short ingredient list" brands in the United States.  Hydrogenated oils are still a big thing here.  Sodium benzoate is popular as a preservative.  A lady we know here desperately misses Karo corn syrup.  There isn't corn syrup here.  You can see a lot of the products that they carry on the stores' websites.

Personal care products are fairly limited.  They have a decent selection, but the products are very similar.  We definitely have not been able to find organic shampoo, aluminum-free deodorant, or fluoride-free toothpaste.  That stuff isn't a thing here yet.

Milk comes in bags, and it is almost always ultra-pasteurized, or UHT long-life treated.  Jeff can't drink it and I choose not to, so we buy fresh milk from a local dairy.  Raw milk is technically illegal here.  At grocery stores we have been able to find good cream that is just pasteurized regularly and doesn't have additives.  Boxed juices usually have sugar added (why, why, why?) but there are some "fresh" brands that don't, and they are yummy.

They do have a "healthy living" type section in many stores.  Our Devoto has a few organic ingredients there (flour and sugar), but it is mostly a sugar free/gluten free/salt free section.  The products are mostly full of other additives that we avoid, so there is little that we like from that section.  They do have rice flour and a bunch of rice products and some gluten free mixes so if someone doesn't care about additives and is just avoiding gluten, there is some stuff for that.  There are a couple stores that carry organic is Ecotiendas, in Montevideo centro, and another is called Mercado Verde (I think?) and it is near Arocena shopping.  They have another location in Punta del Este on the peninsula.

Some stores offer loyalty cards, but I don't think you need to use them to get the sale prices.  I think they are just for earning points towards reward prizes.  If you want a loyalty card, you go to the customer service desk, fill out a form with a lot of personal info, and then come back in about a week to pick it up.

As far as I am aware, there are two main competing grocery store chains in the Montevideo area: Tienda Inglesa, and Devoto/Disco/Geant.  I have also seen Tata and MultiAhorro, although I haven't really shopped at those.

Tienda Inglesas really vary in size--there is a huge one at Montevideo Shopping, which is relatively similar to a Walmart, with more food than other items, and another huge one across from Portones Shopping.  There is a regular "grocery store" size Tienda Inglesa in the Arocena shopping area, and a very very tiny Tienda Inglesa in Pocitos.  Tienda Inglesa has a customer loyalty card, and they frequently do big giveaways (often for cars) that you can earn entries into with your purchases; with your receipt they give you tickets to fill out and put in a box.  Tienda Inglesa does something kind of fun which is that (from what we have seen) they tend to have different around-the-world product themes.  So, during Italian Days (or whatever it is called) they have a broader assortment of Italian foods, and even a few little "souvenirs" from Italy.  They set up a special section of the store devoted to the theme, and sometimes some of the employees are dressed up to match the theme.  I saw them do this for Italy, Spain, and maybe Germany, but I don't remember well, and I haven't paid close attention, because I don't usually shop there.  One thing we do buy at Tienda Inglesa is soap.  They have a laundry soap that is a bar of soap that is just very plain coconut oil soap with no extra ingredients, and Jeff likes to use this.  

The Devoto/Disco/Geant chain is what we use most often.  When we were downtown in the Montevideo centro, we shopped at Disco and really liked it.  They kind of advertised having low prices, I think.  But the stuff there was fine.  Now, we mostly shop at Devoto.  Devoto is very very similar to grocery stores from the United States.  Geant is the biggest store in the area, the most similar to Walmart, in Parque Roosevelt (although I believe they just opened another one on Artigas in a new shopping center).  I should probably write more about Geant separately sometime.  Devoto/Disco/Geant also offers a HiperCard where you can earn points to buy prizes.  We do have one of those.  Unlike stores in the US, they ask you at the beginning of every transaction if you have your store card and if you don't give it to them at the beginning then you can't use it.  Of anywhere, Geant's prices are the best.  Devoto sometimes does giveaways (I remember one for a trip to New York), but they don't do them as often as Tienda Inglesa.

Our Devoto that we usually go to offers five separate shopping cart options:
1) regular shopping carts like in the US;
2) regular shopping carts like in the US, with a simple baby seat attached, for laying down infants (there are usually 2-3 of these per store);
3) large(-ish) plastic baskets that you can pull, and they have wheels;
4) another model of the large(-ish) plastic baskets that can be pulled OR they have a handle so you can carry them, they're a bit smaller than the others;
5) baskets just for carrying, like in the US.

Even when stores are busy, it is usually pretty quick to get through lines.  Stores usually have enough check-out lines open so that you don't have to wait for more than 1-2 people, and often you can just walk right up to check out.  There is often a line for people with 10 items or fewer, and many times there are signs saying that pregnant ladies get priority.  I have never seen a self-check out machine here.  When you pay, they often accept Uruguayan pesos or American dollars.  Sometimes if you want to pay with dollars the total has to be above a certain amount.  

They do give you plastic bags at the grocery store, and they are not the ultra-thin save-the-environment kind, they are good.  They don't charge extra for them.  But, they are also starting to encourage people to use reusable bags, and each store has their own reusable bags that you can buy up by the cash registers.  Some of them at our local store say "Yo no contamino."  ("I don't contaminate") large on the outside.

At Tienda Inglesa they don't offer money changing services but they told me they -kind of- do, because you can pay with dollars and they will accept them and give you change in Uruguayan pesos.  At our Devoto they have a cambio (money changing booth) up at the front of the store.  Stores often have little independent stores attached or in front across from where you check-out; our regular grocery store has that cambio, plus a small dry-cleaners, a locksmith/lock store, a 24 hour pharmacy with separate and shared entrances, and an Abitab (payment place) with a separate entrance but as part of the same building.  This type of layout is very common for grocery stores.  The Devoto itself also has a DVD rental place that is inside the store but I think it has its own check-out spot separate from the main check-out lines.

Most grocery stores have sufficient parking lots, especially when you're not in downtown Montevideo.  Some have underground parking, and some have large parking lots.  Our grocery store that we usually go to seldom has a parking problem, and most of the parking has little roofs to cover the cars.  During evening hours (when people get off work) it is a little more crowded.  Almost always, the parking lots have a worker or guard or two that stay in the parking lot all the time.  They often do friendly things, like help you carry groceries to your car if you're wrangling a squirmy toddler, or come up to you to take your cart so that you don't have to take it back.  They seem genuinely friendly.  At the Tienda Inglesa that is in the Arocena area, there is usually someone managing traffic in the parking lot, and helping people into and out of parking spots.  

Stores seem to be fairly worried about theft.  All of the normal-size grocery stores have self-service lockers (where it has a large number attached to a key) so that you can store any bags at the front, and they're kind of strict about it.  The Portones Devoto is attached to the mall, and if you walk into Devoto and forget to put other mall purchases in a locker, someone will come up and tell you you need to use a locker, and insist that you do so before you go into the store.  

There is also a procedure when you buy more expensive items, like electronics.  (It is the same experience that we had when we bought our GPS in Argentina.)  When I bought a printer at Geant, I pulled it off the shelf myself and took it up to the front with the rest of my stuff like I would have done at a Walmart in the United States.  No, they told me, I couldn't do that.  The process is this:
1. Talk to someone in the electronics department, and have them get you an order ticket with your name and info on it.
2. Take the printed order ticket to the customer service desk (like, the place you would go for returns in the US...I don't know whether they do returns here or not) and pay for it.
3. Take the PAID order ticket and receipt to a "pick up" type desk located at the exit of the store.  For Geant it is outside the store, but still in the shopping center.  
4. Someone at the desk reads your order ticket and looks at the items that are waiting to be picked up, to find your item.
5. They open the box, and pull everything out of the box, to make sure everything that is supposed to be included is included.  They put everything back in, and tape it shut.
6. Maybe they have you sign acknowledging that you picked it up, and they sign confirming that they checked it?  I think this happens on some paper, but I don't remember which.
7. You can take your stuff.
It is very disappointing!  I love the excitement of opening something new that I've just bought and pulling items out of the box to discover it all and enjoy it.  Watching someone else open your fun thing is no fun.  I feel kind of jealous, because I want the experience for myself, and a little irritated, because I don't want them touching my stuff, and because it seems like a waste of time.  It seems like it must be a fun job when new cool things come out...can you imagine being the one to get to handle all the new iPhones before anyone else gets to touch them?  Maybe it gets boring to them.

Anyhow, that is about all I can think of to tell you about our grocery stores here!  If you have questions, feel free to ask.  Sorry this is so long and without pictures.  I will try to add some pictures later, if I remember.  The stores are clean and usually relatively modern looking.