As you might imagine, getting out to run errands can be somewhat of a challenge since the BOGOs made their appearance a couple of months ago. Not having a car adds to this difficulty because, as it turns out, car seats aren’t actually that useful without a vehicle. Not only that but I’ve found that my purse and pockets don’t quite cut the mustard when it comes to the trunk space I often require. Last week, a friend of mine asked if I would like to go grocery shopping with her. There are three challenges posed by this task. The first two are named Lily and Lucy. The third is the fact that whatever I purchase must be carried from the grocery store back to my apartment without the aid of a trunk. When my friend offered to strap one of the babies on so that we could walk to the store, we solved our first two obstacles leaving us only with the third. Enter Korean brilliance.
In a city as big as Seoul, many people rely on public transportation and scooters to get around. This leaves many a poor soul without trunk space with which to transport goods from the store back home. To solve this problem, many vendors have made the move to offer a delivery service. “So what?” you may say. “Plenty of people around here deliver.” Here’s the thing. Since delivery service is so commonplace, this amenity is offered free of charge. But wait, there’s more! Not only is bringing your purchase to your door free, the delivery guy doesn’t stand in your doorway with his palm out waiting to receive a tip. No delivery fee, no tipping the deliverer, just items showing up at your doorstep. It is magical.
So, the grocery store that my friend and I visited was one of the many locations offering this delightful service. Sometimes, however, there is one speed bump in this perfect process. As foreigners, we often have difficulty communicating exactly where our newly purchased items are to be taken. The vendor often has an equally difficult time communicating exactly when we are to be home to receive our goods. Enter brilliance of this particular grocery store. Upon arrival, we went directly over to the customer service desk, handed them my ID card, and waited a couple of minutes. They filled out the necessary paperwork for me and handed me a card that the checkout person would scan when I purchased my food. This card evidently contains all of my information thereby circumventing any miscommunication about where my groceries are to be taken. Once purchased, the grocery store has a policy that the food will be delivered in the next 60 minutes thus allowing ample time to walk back home and have a nice stop off at a café on the way.
So my friend and I shopped to our heart’s content without a single thought about how much each item might weigh or how awkward it might be to carry. We went to the checkout, scanned our cards, walked home via an iced caramel macchiato and arrived at our apartments just in time to receive our goods. Magical. My only concern at this point is if they ask to put the information from my card on my wrist or forehead… meh, I guess I will cross that bridge when I come to it.