01 December 2006

Invasion Guide: Grocery Shopping

So a lot of foreigners are surprised by the grumpy and ultimately fiendish attitudes of Russian service system. The personnel (especially the ones in groceries) are not selling the stuff; but as if giving them ex gracia (as if you are in a soup kitchen). Some even act as if they are angry that they came into their shop...but before swearing at those people, let's look at the underlying historical facts:

The basics of trade haven't changed a lot from the time of the Lydians. Customers go to a shop and buy the goods from the seller. Very simple and basic indeed.

And then some ordinary farmer may have realised that the trading is a nicer way to live off and started selling his own goods nearby a similar seller.Then there came a concept of "competition". Ranging from pricing to service, this concept has not only increased customer satisfaction but also made life easier for all.

Until 1917...

Then started an era of universal equality, suffrage and freedom for all (which meant that a lot of people died in Siberian Gulags, artificial famines in Ukraine and bloody purges all around the country). Competition was denounced as an evil capitalist theme and abolished from the country. Anyway, the state supplied everyone with food, shelter and medical services...why would one need a "better" service? get it while it is available...or die.

There were no (or few) universal shops and each shop was discreet and unique to what it had to offer for sale. From shops of Milk, Meat, Bread..etc to even Fishing Products, the soviet citizens enjoyed the variety (!) of products that were available in subsidized prices. Nobody envied his neighbor since everyone got the same flat, car, sweater and ate the same chocolate.

Everything was fine until the government decided to prioritized the arms race to face the ultimate evil in the Cold War. So goods slowly and dramatically disappeared from the shelves as the production lines of canned fish were altered for more AK-47 bullets...and the hungry citizens used ever black market effort to find food for their children..even to bribe the shopkeepers (who are ordinary civil servants with state salaries) and an era of absolute darkness over consumerism in Soviet Union began.

Produkti or the Devil's Lair...enter at your own risk


There were long queues for everything from toilet paper (actually it is a soft sandpaper but that is what they produced as a toilet paper) to apples. People would wait in queues of what they didn't know or care; since the concept of getting a good shadowed the practice. The shopkeepers have almost completed their metamorphosis into creatures of underworld and they ruled their shop with absolute grip of the reality that they controlled who could get the product. No mercy was cared for the fellow comrades and they tasted the same patterns of social hegemony just like comrade Stalin did before.


The shopkeeper or the Dominatrix..Why the hell did you came to my shop!!!?!!


This is the soviet customer rewards program


And then something miraculously happened when a guy called Gorbachev came into power. He ordered the now infamous politics of openness and semi-market economy for a better world...and everything became worse. The worst happened when the comrades woke up to a morning to learn that they weren't comrades anymore...everyone watched the dirty minority get rich in miliseconds and their lifetime savings vaporizing. You know the rest...

Everything changed but the shopkeepers, they resist the winds of change and you can even pinpoint some of them in shops around Moscow and Russia....another souvenir of communism


...and here is our salute to our beloved shopkeepers: WE LOVE YOU!

6 comments:

Alev said...

Bloguma ugradigin icin tesekkur ederim :) Rusya ve diger eski dogu blok ulkeleri sosyologlarin ve marketingcilerin de yakindan ilgilendigi ortamlar... Sebebi bariz tabi :) Rusya-Moskova hakkindaki yazilarin cok ilgi cekici, okumaya devam edecegim. Gorusmek uzere...

Anonymous said...

Hocam merhaba...
Sayfanızı sıkı takip ediyorum..
İngilizce yanında Türkçe olarak da yayınlayabilir misiniz acaba? Belki de türkçe versiyonu vardır varsa adresi nedir...

Hussoloji

Field Commander Dinc Arslan said...

Hussoloji merhaba,

Malesef su an sadece ingilizce yazmaya vakit bulabiliyorum (biliyorum kulaga biraz garip geliyor ama yayinladiklarimin bir kismi yazili olarak da birkac gazeteye veriyorum- daha dogrusu onlar begenirse basiyorlar)

Ilgin icin cok tesekkur ederim; zaman buldukca turkce versiyon icin de oneri ve elestirilerini beklerim..

Saha Komutani Dinc :)

Anonymous said...

Tekrar merhaba ...
ben de http://hussoloji.blogcu.com adlı sayfamda bir şeyler karalıyorum... Sizin sayfanızı russiablog'dan buldum...Yabancı bir çok blogu takip ediyorum, ingilizcem elverdiğince yazılarınızı okuyorum anlamakta sorun yok ama işte yazarken bazan zorlanıyorum şu anda olduğu gibi:-)Yorumu türkçe yazıyorum o nedenle... En çok ilgimi çeken son yazılarınızdan biri Shut up or be poisoned oldu... Hatta çıktısını aldım... Rusya'ya bol selamlar...Sağlıcakla Kalın...

Anonymous said...

why all in Turkish??? interesting topic but nothing can be understood :)

Field Commander Dinc Arslan said...

Hmm..sorry but these are just feedbacks from friends. (Not about the topic)