Englishman in Nyhavn: Caught out at the checkout
Jack Gardner Vaa
My name is Jack and I have what I would consider to be a good amount of social anxiety.
The art of remaining silent
On a hot day, I will say to anyone I talk to for more than three seconds “Hot one today, eh?” to show that I am great at conversation – but also to avoid, for even one single second, the prospect of an awkward silence.
I will say thank you after every single thing that a waiter brings to me at a table, even if it means that I do not engage with the person I hypothetically could be spending my evening with.
And if I go to a check-out at a supermarket, I will happily be charged up to 10,000 kroner more than the value of the items I have selected in my basket, than dare challenge the cashier.
Caught with your pant clown
It’s not like any of these traits are shared by Danes. But when it comes to the supermarkets, the Danes could hardly be more different from the norm (the norm being me).
Every one of my supermarket experiences in this fine land has been capped by walking past a row of Danes studiously and fastidiously unfurling their (optional) receipt and checking to see if the exhausted cashier has made the kind of mistake only an exhausted cashier could make.
The kind of mistake that might see you lose 10 kroner. Or maybe, at a big shop, 15.
It is not that I am opposed to people getting their money’s worth. Former friends have referred to me as one of the tightest people they know when it comes to money. I have maybe even fished pant out of a bin – WHILE ON MY WAY TO A PANT BIN, so it barely counts – but that isn’t the point.
Danger of dairy intolerance
The reason I find abhorrence in the act of checking your receipt at the checkout is twofold.
Firstly, you are in FULL view of the person you are implicitly accusing of being shit at their job. If you are going to make such an accusation – implicit or explicit – have the common decency of doing it in a more guarded way. Such as behind their back like the rest of us, or in a newspaper column.
Secondly, if you do find yourself short of a coin or two, the process to ask for your money back is so excruciatingly complex and toe-curlingly difficult, you create a back-up of huffing Danes that goes all the way back to the yoghurt fridge by the time you are finished.
And I would rather lose 10 kroner than deal with a huffing line of dairy-adjacent Danes any day of the week.
Jack Gardner Vaa
Jack escaped Brexit Britain in October 2019 to forge a new life in Copenhagen. In this column, he outlines the challenges expats face when integrating into Danish life. Jack (email@example.com) co-hosts the comedy podcast ‘Butterflies on the Wheel’, which is available on all major podcasting platforms.