I went to a grocery store in Arizona with my American friend, for the first time about three years ago, and I did fine until we got to the cashier. In Japan, customers normally pick up a shopping basket at the entrance and place it into a cart or hold it with them. When finished shopping, they place the basket on the cashier’s lane with products inside. Then the cashier will scan each items directly from the basket and place the items into another basket on his or her left. After paying, customers take the second basket to a packing station located near the cashier, where the customer packs their products into bags, which they brought or were provided at the stations. If someone needs help, the cashier brings the basket to the station, but the customer still needs to pack the items themselves.
In this new grocery experience, I didn’t know that I had to take items from the basket and put them on the lane myself. Placing my basket on the lane I waited for the cashier to do so. My friend was behind me, and said that I had to remove the items myself. It confused me and made me a bit embarrassed to show other customers what I was buying by placing the items openly on the lane. After paying, I was surprised that I didn’t need to pack the groceries myself. These small differences are everywhere, which makes me a fan to investigate other cultures.