My local supermarket, whether as a response to Wal-Mart or an object lesson in globalization, has started stocking Herbal Essences shampoo and Clean&Clear face wash. I’m not really into brand names, but it was great to see a logo I recognized. Also, a lot of Chinese lotions, face washes and sunscreens have a weird whitening agent in them, which is another reason to enjoy the American products.
In a Chinese supermarket, though, you can’t just pick what you want and walk over to the counter. You need to choose your toothpaste, then get walk over to the receipt counter, interrupt the employees conversation, hand in your toothpaste, get a receipt, then select your razor blades, walk over to the receipt counter, interrupt the employees conversation, hand in your razor blades, get a receipt, then select your shampoo, etc. etc.
It looks like the employees are standing around talking, but I learned yesterday that they have lightning-fast relexes. If you’re holding a bottle of shampoo and you pick up a tube of facewash, they will spring into action and snatch them from your hands. Even if you’re walking towards the register. Even if you can’t possibly be shoplifting because the entire staff of the Health&Beauty section, and most of Clothing, plus a couple of guys from Hardware, are watching you choose between Regular and Oily Skin facial wash.
But even that couldn’t take away my delight in my soon-to-be-clean pores and hair!
When my hippie mother was teaching me not to be brand-conscious, not to drink soda and not to watch television, she also taught me that money and products can’t bring happiness. But like her well-meant “It just feels like they’re all staring at you, Meg” in middle school, this is simply not true in China.
Excuse me, I have to go wash my hair.