A מכולת/makolet, for the uninitiated, is like a convenience store only better. Mine is right around the corner from my house, just like a makolet should be. It opens up on Saturday night after shabbat goes out and I went over to buy a carton of milk (Milk comes in cartons now! Last time I was in Israel it only came in bags. Now you can buy it in bags or cartons) and a sugar-free chocolate bar (sugar-free sweets are much more prevalent here; this is lovely but given the unpleasant side effects of the most commonly used sweetener, malitol, it is a loveliness best enjoyed in small amounts).
In this dairy-rich country, there are many choices to be made at the dairy case, even in a small makolet. I bought something that I thought was 3% milk, but when I got home I realized that it was actually vanilla-milk and too sugary for me. I went right back to the makolet and the makoletnik was standing on the side walk with three buddies listening to music. I finally got his attention and asked if I could switch the milk because I just wanted regular milk.
He escorted me to the dairy case and proceeded to help me. He picked out a different milk and showed it to me, a 2% option that had some other words on it that I didn't immediately understand (מעושר סידן/m'ushar sidan). He said (in Hebrew) that it was healthy for my bones and then he tapped on my hand to emphasize his point. After figuring out that the words in question meant "enriched with calcium" I agreed that this was a good swap. He compared prices; the old milk was 8.50 and the new milk was 9. "No problem" he said and handed me my new, calcium-enriched, instantly-discounted, and hand-picked carton.
I walked home (again) pleased to be building a good relationship with this vital person in the neighborhood.
Alan flies tomorrow and, God willing, lands in Tel Aviv on Monday...we get to spend two whole months together!