Today the Embassy sponsored a 5K to raise environmental awareness (a seriously hefty task in this country). I ran it, so I was more than prepared to enjoy our brand new Krispy Kreme for an afternoon snack. That’s right, Krispy Kreme has come to Santo Domingo! Let’s get dressed up and go out and wait in line because there is nothing like a donut! And, a real American style latte…in an 8 oz. cup…not one of those little ones like dentists’ offices use which is how coffee is usually served here.
Our only snag (waiting in line for 30 minutes doesn’t count because there are big windows where you can see the donut machines and anything with gears will keep my boys entertained for hours) was when I attempted to order milk for the boys (because, while I will gladly treat them to a donut I cannot and will not serve it with a soda or a Minute Maid). The conversation went like this (translated from Spanish):
Cashier: Anything else?
Me: Yes, a café latte and two milks.
Cashier: We don’t have milk.
Cashier: We have juice.
Me: Well, no thank you, I don’t really want juice. I would like to order milk for the kids.
Cashier: We don’t serve milk (uneasy smile).
Me: But, you do have milk. It’s right there. Just the same milk you use for the coffee, but in a cup for the kids.
Cashier: Do you want a cappuccino?
Me: Um, no. Can’t you just give me milk and charge me for a soda or plain coffee or something?
Cashier: (Looking helplessly at the cash register). Uh, uh, uh…no.
Me: Well, I mean, a coffee is 30 pesos and a soda is 20, I would happily pay 20 or 30 pesos for a milk. Can’t you just charge me that?
Cashier: Uh, uh, uh…(goes to get manager).
Me: (to manager) I would like to order milk. Can you just charge me for a soda or something?
Manager: (laughing) Hmmm..(turns to coffee guy) asks him to just give me some milk. (coffee guy, manager, cashier look at each other and shrug).
I leave with free milk.
This is a very typical type of conversation here. Everything is very top-down. Cashiers, secretaries, store staff, etc can never, ever make decisions on their own and rarely are things done outside the box. There is not a lot of critical thinking…or even problem solving that goes into these sorts of transactions. If you go to the store and your item doesn’t have the bar code, they cannot just enter the price, they have to send someone back to find one with a bar code. This doesn’t seem too crazy I guess, but if none of the products are bar-coded, you are out of luck! You cannot buy your item because they cannot ring it up. This happens! It doesn’t even matter if the price is clearly displayed in the shelf.
Just more for the files of ever-expanding patience I guess. And, anyway, anything's manageable with a donut...right?