Behold, Albert Heijn is Nigh


The Albert Heijn Logo on www.adventuresinexpatland.com

The Albert Heijn Logo

If you’ve noticed a distinct decrease in the stress waves emanating from The Hague, you’ve Albert Heijn to thank.

It’s true. My beloved neighborhood AH store has reopened after fourteen days undergoing major renovations.

Fourteen long, arduous days.

Despite Daughter’s original plaintive question (‘will we starve to death?’), we have survived just fine.

I sucked it up, put my big girl panties on and resorted to weekly grocery shopping by car. Supplemented by a couple of long walks to the next closest AH store to pick up a few items.

That’s a perfectly nice store, but it brought me no peace. No tranquility. (Neither frankincense nor myrrh while we’re doing a full assessment.)

It wasn’t MY Albert Heijn. I was just visiting, and it felt exactly like that. Visiting. Biding my time.

Oh I’m sure that store would have liked for me to switch allegiance and join it in a new domestic partnership of sorts. But we both knew that wasn’t destined to be. 

Never going to happen. I am nothing if not loyal. My heart was back on ‘the Fred’ awaiting the grand reopening.

I am proud to say that despite walking by earlier in the day and seeing the crowd gathering outside its doors, I waited a full three hours before I grabbed my wallet and cloth bags (there’s that environmentally friendly side again), threw my key ring with the mini-AH savings card attached into my coat pocket, and made the trek.

My throat was dry, my heart beating faster as I neared the store. Inside I could see that there was a frenzy of activity. Perhaps I should turn back, returning when I could have a more private reconciliation.

Of course not. I breathed deeply and stepped inside.

It was light and bright, and despite the crowd I could still see that a new floorplan with slightly wider aisles beckoned. I swear I could almost hear a heavenly choir in the background.

Who should appear with his golden halo to guide me through a personalized tutorial on how to use the new, hand-held self-scanner system but none other than Mijn Bediende himself.

As we conversed in Dutch and English (my scrambled English and mediocre Dutch mingling with his flawless command of both languages), he patiently explained the intricacies of how to use the gun-like laser scanner and the new check out arrangements.

And then he uttered the most amazing thing. Those marvelous pearls fell from his lips first in Dutch, followed by the sublime query ‘isn’t that how you pronounce it in English?’

What could he possibly say to make my knees go weak? Murmurs of opening day discounts, better store layout or the free gift of an apple-apricot taartje that awaited me?

Even better. ‘The system is designed to be self-explanatory. It is, how do you say, autodidactic.*’

I nearly swooned in disbelief. Such sophistication, such intellectual insight!

Never mind that I had to rush home and look up the word autodidactic. Lest you think him a snob, be assured that mijn bediende is equally at home joshing with pensioners and children as he is conversing with middle-aged housewives, working mothers, divorced fathers and the homeless man who sells newspapers.

I just knew, then and there, that I wanted to shop forever in a store where the greatest clerk of all uses words like that.

As he bid me farewell in order to respond to a voice page about a spill on the juice aisle, I clutched my hand-held scanner tightly and turned to enter the incoming turnstyle and begin my shopping adventure.

The smile plastered across my face said it all. I was home. 

New glass-faced refrigerated aisle at renovated Albert Heijn grocery store www.adventuresinexpatland.com

New energy efficient glass-fronted refrigerated section









Wide grocery store aisle in Netherlands at Adventures in Expat Land

Lighter, brighter, wider aisles

Roomy aisles in renovated Albert Heijn grocery store www.adventuresinexpatland.com

Look at all that space!

Hand holding grocery store scanner Adventures in Expat Land

Autodidacticim in action on the wine aisle

*self-directed study, self-learning. Behold the only photos I dared take so as not to be accused of industrial espionage.

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