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Oh and then there are the checkouts
How I love to stand in line
It gives my life such meaning
Wasting all that time

An old Indonesian joke goes that the only heroes in Indonesia today are its supermarkets. That’s a tad harsh in my opinion as there have been some courageous souls willing to put their heads on the line in recent years. Munir & Marsinah come to mind of course.

Hero supermarkets are bloody well everywhere in Jakarta - weird places where time stands still and you are transported back to the 1980s as classic hits like Duran Duran’s “Hungry like the wolf” blare out over the instore tannoy system.

How the staff survives it in there I don’t know. There are no windows for a start. And then there’s the tedious nature of the work of course: stacking shelves is only slightly less banal than the average Indonesian blog. No wonder then that the staff pace the aisles like pacified zombies, bloodshot eyed, and completely oblivious to what is going on around them. Shout “Fire!” and they wouldn’t even bat a bloodshot eye lid.

And then there’s the guy stuck behind the deposit items desk. He has a mike and lets vent his frustrations every 10 minutes or so with rambled and barely decipherable mutterings about special offers on Hero’s
pornographic vegetables and fruits (stiff cucumbers, testicular rambutans and bulging watermelons).

Arrive at the check-out and time really does slow down. Cos although there are never that many customers in a Hero Supermarket, the check-out girl still takes an eternity to deal with just a few items in a shopper’s basket. In fact, if she dropped something you wouldn’t have to worry about it breaking: just like in one of those slow motion scenes in a film, you’d easily be able to reach out a hand and grab it before it smashed to the floor.

But the item in the basket whose code will not register in the cash register is the real time killer. The girl will have to call over some zombie who embarks on a tortuously slow journey to some far and distant place, from which he will return about 15 minutes later, and then let the girl know its price, by which time, of course, you have already given up the ghost and gotten onto the escalator to leave the store...

Happy hero day one and all!





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