Monday, March 09, 2009

2009: A Space Odyssey

Technology-wise, this has never been a nation of early adopters.

Hearing of this intended attack, [Cortés] brought ten of his horses ashore.... Suddenly there was a sound of galloping as the horsemen charged. The apparition of ten unknown animals caused a panic. The Tabascoans not only had never seen horses; they had never seen or heard of beasts of burden of any kind. They thought the horses were supernatural creatures and, at first, that horse and rider were one animal, a monstrous god bent on their destruction. They had stood up to cannon...But the horses were too much. They fled to the woods. It was the end of the battle.

-- Maurice Collis, Cortés & Montezuma

We thought of this today when we were buying juice and bread at the store up the street where we've been shopping every morning for two and a half years. Things generally move pretty slow in there, thanks to the archaic system - common throughout Mexico - whereby baked goods are handled in a separate section of the store, so that, even though we're just buying one single bread roll, we have to stand in line at the bakery counter to have it priced and bagged before preceding to the checkout line.

But this morning, the checkout counter suddenly had a brand new, computerized cash register armed with one of those bar-code reader wands. It took us ten minutes to get to the front of the four-person line, and another three full minutes to complete a three-item transaction. And the look on the poor checkout lady's face was exactly how we imagine the Tabascoans looked when they saw those horses.

5 comments:

Ellen Kimball said...

We still have people in our Portland-area hometown who are working with pencil and paper (hand addition, with no bar codes and no SKUs) in their small shoe store! Granted, most of the Mom-and-Pop stores are gone, but some may be coming back in this down economy.

Our flights to Mexico were smooth, although we had to take everything off the plane when we stopped in LA (apparently the Department of Homeland Security checks everything out in the plane on each "leg" of each trip). So, except for the bogus timeshare people who accosted us quite aggressively at the Puerto Vallarta airport yesterday, everything went smoothly. However, we were warned against this and managed to fend them off. Both myself and my husband are former salespeople, so we usually recognize a sales pitch when we see one!

This morning, we shopped in the Megacommercial supermarket suggested by the personnel at the Grand Mayan Resort in Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit. We were awed by this large, clean and complete supermarket. The store posts their prices juxtaposed with Walmart's prices (theirs are lower!).

Although the price of taxis over and back added to our fees, it is certainly worth it. We do not go to Walmart at home and wanted to avoid them here also.

The 2005 documentary now out on DVD and described at www.walmartmovie.com tells how they treat their Walmart workers in other countries, especially China and Bangladesh. It is a real eyeopener.

EK in Jalisco/Nayarit, Mexico

Burro Hall said...

A quick walk through the seafood section at Queretaro's Mercado de la Cruz could make one feel differently about WalMart. Just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

read about Wal-Mart and the farmed salmon industry in Chile

but most seafood really isn't good for you anymore anyway - too much mercury and other carcinogenic content -- you could skip that aisle and get something else instead...

Burro Hall said...

Jeremy Piven reads Burro Hall? How friggin' cool is that!

Anonymous said...

At first I thought you were describing the effect I have when people see me on my horse, galloping toward them. Little did I think you were really talking about a bread roll!

M