Overlanders: Strollers and Clerks

>> Tuesday, October 04, 2005

We bought a combination stroller/tricycle for Leia?s birthday on the 30th. Not quite sure if they have them in the States, but I wouldn?t be surprised to find one; they?re pretty nifty. Of course, I like most any kind of toy/furniture/etc that has a dual purpose. It?s like a tricycle with safety bars and a parental-control handlebar, so at first the child just rides along as if it were a stroller. Later as she grows up, you can take the footguard/seatbelt/parent control off and it becomes a regular tricycle. Oh, and there?s also a fold-under bar so that you can turn it into a stationary rocker; another cool feature. There seems to be a wide variety of these kind of toys here in Ukraine. Either that, or we?re just under the effects of that ?you just bought something so you see it everywhere? feeling. They make them with many different themes; dogs, cats, teddy bears, and so forth. We bought what we felt was the best-quality one (there were some incredibly shaky-looking ones out there) that happened to have a cow theme. It has a battery-powered cow riding on the handlebars that, when you push it?s hoof, it sings a little ditty to the tune of ?Aloeutte?:

If all the raindrops were lemon drops and gum drops, oh what a rain that would be. Standing outside with my mouth open wide: Ah ah ahah ah ahah ah ahah If all the raindrops were lemon drops and gum drops, oh what a rain that would be.

It?s awesome how much Leilani enjoys this little cow. She does the infant-full-body-shake dance every single time it plays, and she even hums along with it sometimes. On the downside, it?s probably one of the more addicting little tunes you could ever imagine. You remember how it felt when you?d catch yourself singing the ?Barney? theme song (most everyone?s come across that at some point)? A few hours later when you?re still running it through your head, this song feels like that, too!

This little toy gave us another perspective into Ukrainian commerce again. In America we really take for granted just how courteous we are to one another, even though there are many times I?m sure it doesn?t feel that way. We looked through several stores while comparison shopping and decided to buy it at one store where we thought this particular one was cheapest. While looking through all the stores, I got the feeling that the clerks weren?t there to actually help us ? they?re there to make sure you don?t steal anything and/or the kids don?t play with/break/mess up the toys on display.

When it came time to buy, we asked if it came boxed up and with instructions, and the clerks argued with us, telling us that they don?t have room to store boxes (I think that?s what they said) and that we needed neither box nor instruction book. Eventually they found some instructions from another floor model (because, as they explained, there apparently is no storage; all their toys are out for purchase), so we paid for it at the register. They didn?t give us a receipt, and when we asked for one, they argued with us, again telling us that we didn?t need a receipt. The argument went something like, ?Why would you want to return it? You don?t need a receipt.?

Well, we stepped out of the store with it, turned around, and returned it. It just felt bad shopping with them, so they didn?t deserve our money. We found it at another store for about 5 dollars cheaper, where it came with a receipt and 3-month warranty. That felt normal. The clerks were much more friendly and helpful. It?s good to find at least some of that here.

One quick update from a few hours ago: We were riding in a "Marshutka" which is like a taxi except it's cheaper, more like a bus, and usually a lot more crowded (Dear Europe: Deodorant does not cost very much!). We were about to get off when Elena asked if the driver would be stopping also a short distance ahead, to which he said he would. So, Elena called me back on, I got back on and shut the door. For some unfathomable, crazy reason, the driver then decided that he wasn't going anywhere because I shut the door. He just parked the bus and told us we weren't going anywhere because of that. !?!?!?!? Maybe he thought I shut it too hard, or decided that I should have to pay again because I stepped off and back on, but whatever. Way to rack up points for your country's reputation, taximan.


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