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Long Walks to "Pay" with PET Bottles – 2021 Edition – I

Since I at least caught up to the end of December, I’ll now go back and finally get around to writing about last year’s long walks to “pay” with PET bottles, splitting it in two and covering the first five days now. That will leave the weekend, so the last two days from that first “round”, and the two days of November when I went to the location the program had moved to then, but whether I’ll get to those next week or not remains to be seen, since I’ll probably want to at least go through January’s runs then, unless I’ll have some more urgent things to write about… Which may well be possible, considering the current health concerns.

The first day when the program was going to run in Bucharest was October 18, and the location for that first week, since that time around there were going to be two locations in Bucharest, was Orhideea, actually remaining so, unlike the previous year, when it was changed to Baneasa at the last moment. So, after that day’s run, I had watermelon and cake, changed and left again at 5:40 PM, with the first 20 bottles in dad’s large backpack, the limit still being 20 bottles per person per day. And the other limits also remained the same, four pieces of any one kind of fruit or vegetable and 20 total bottles, regardless of whether they were brought at once or on different days, in order to get an entry in the raffle.
Well, that watermelon took its toll, so I went into the shopping center at Unirii to pee, then reached my destination a bit after 7:20 PM. After spotting the place where I had to take the bottles, I noticed that things were a bit messy, a few other people queuing and the few who worked there not seeming that organized, and there was also the fact that the caps had to be taken off, which added to the time if they had to do that then and there, so I tried to help when my turn came, and obviously took them off before putting the bottles in the backpack from then on. Then I was asked for my name and phone number, for the raffle, so I said my full name… Which resulted in the girl writing Lucian as my last name and Robert as my first name, which I noticed when she handed me the ticket in order to put it in the box, and after I pointed it out to her she just crossed out Lucian and wrote Negut there instead. Either way, I then got four Kapia peppers, weighing 596 grams, four Bianca peppers, weighing 293 grams, four potatoes, weighing 926 grams, four carrots, weighing 461 grams, and four apples, I believe Idared, weighing 766 grams.
Then I went in and explored the place, but didn’t buy anything, since on top of not finding anything else to add, I only found exactly two LED tubes left and none of the large chocolates I wanted to get for dad, though there had been boxes and boxes of them when I had gone to the location from the park two days earlier, and I was relying on those to get to 50 RON and also take advantage of their campaign offering a 5 RON voucher, obviously on top of bills in exchange for the coins, if you make purchases of at least 50 RON and then give 50 RON in coins at the information desk. Then again, I’d have been wary to try it that day anyway, because I couldn’t spot any notification about that campaign there, so after getting back I sent them a message to ask whether it was still running and, if so, whether that location was also included.
Either way, after peeing again, I was leaving at 8:10 PM and reached the Carrefour from Unirii at 9:05 PM, having a look but not buying anything from there either, so I was out at 9:30 PM and back a bit before 10:20 PM. Then I took a bath, after which I made mamaliga, adding quite a number of things in it. Obviously hadn’t had lunch that day, and started eating dinner at 3:20 AM, then got in bed at 5:30 AM.

On October 19 I again left at 5:40 PM, but took 25 bottles, since I had five wine bottles I wasn’t sure they’ll accept, so I added five more, in a separate pocket of the backpack, in case I’ll need them. I didn’t, however, since I got there just after 7:15 PM, first went to pee, then gave the bottles, and while the guy had a look when I gave him the first of those five, he said those were also fine, so I kept the other five in that other pocket. And I got four Kapia peppers, weighing 291 grams, and four Bianca peppers, weighing 340 grams, but when I asked for tomatoes I was given five, weighing 623 grams, then the guy suggested carrots and I accepted it, getting five of those as well, and large ones, weighing 741 grams, while for the last product I selected apples, but at least three kinds were available that day, so I was asked to pick one and I believe I picked Gala, and ended up with five of those too, weighing 700 grams. Then, for the raffle ticket, I made sure to leave Lucian out and specify which was my first name and which was my last one, so there won’t be any more confusion, not that I could really see how they could be mixed up in the first place.
Had a look through the store that day as well, but again left without buying anything, walking out just before 8 PM… And only noticing after that, when I stopped to have a better look at what I had received and put the tomatoes on top, that I had been given a fifth tomato, carrot and apple. And then I again also checked the Carrefour from Unirii, getting there just before 9 PM and finding and buying an expiring apple tart that seemed nice and was actually discounted by 50%, the discount for expiring products that aren’t fruits or vegetables or from the bakery area otherwise being 30% in that location, strangely.
After leaving that store a bit before 9:25 PM, I was back a bit before 10:15 PM, just having an apple before showering and some chocolate after that. And then I had a lot to clean after dad, who had cooked that day, on top of putting away what I had brought, and I also cooked at night, making rice, so I again mixed lunch with dinner, as I used to do in the past, and only started eating at 4:40 AM, clearly the latest time yet. As such, it was past 6 AM when I finished… And that was after I picked up the salad bowl and it slipped. Nothing broke, fortunately, but it also knocked the cream cheese off my desk, which also fortunately just bounced away to and on the floor, didn’t land upside down, somehow didn’t splatter at all and no dirt seemed to have ended up in it either, but I still had to stop and pick things up and clean a little, to be sure. Either way, I was finally in bed at 6:25 AM.

On October 20, I got up when the alarm rang, at 12:30 PM, since the plan was to also walk the rest of the route that was displayed at the time for the marathon. Then, seeing as there had been no reply to the first message, I again asked Carrefour whether they could answer my question about that campaign, but they told me they were still looking into it. They eventually did reply, confirming that it was still running and also in that location, but that was at 4 PM, so I only saw that after getting back, since that day I left at 3:05 PM, again with 25 bottles, taking five more wine bottles and also keeping those five spare ones, just in case.
I got there a bit before 4:40 PM and, since one of the guys was dealing with another person and the other was on the phone and just telling someone what he was doing and that the person in question could also bring bottles and get vegetables and apples, as long as they’re not vinegar or oil bottles, when I gave him mine I asked about the vinegar and he said that vinegar, oil and milk bottles are not accepted. Then, seeing that they had no Kapia peppers at that moment, I asked for fibbers, again not noticing that I was given five, weighing 717 grams, but I did notice that I was given more Bianca peppers, actually counting seven after I got back, weighing 605 grams, and I pointed out that he gave me too many, but he said I was the first person to point that out to him and it didn’t matter, then gave me eight, weighing 558 grams, when I asked for cucumbers, and while I just got three Golden apples, weighing 436 grams, he gave me five Granny Smith apples, weighing 688 grams, and those were more expensive. And he also offered to help while I was struggling to fit everything in the backpack, which made me feel awkward, and he couldn’t really help at that point anyway because the bag couldn’t fit without first moving some things around inside it… But then he offered again after I did that, so it was a relief that I managed to get it done just as he was reaching over.
Then I went in and bought the LED tubes and the extension cord dad wanted, and also lemons… Which led to a problem, because for some reason at that location customers still can’t weigh the products themselves, though they changed that policy quite a long time ago in all other locations that I know of. There are a couple of scales that can be accessed, but they’re only meant to be used by those who make deliveries, and I was warned about that when I used one to check the weight, but I was just checking the weight, so I did what I had to do in order to get as much as I wanted and then went to one of the scales operated by an employee in order to get the label with the price.
After peeing and leaving a bit before 5:50 PM, I got to the spot where that section of the route would start a bit before 6:20 PM, though it could be said that I had started walking it on the way to the store, having paid attention while I was in the area that was to also be a part of the marathon’s route. Then again, most of that entire section was known, also being part of the route of the half marathon, and the part that wasn’t was also used the first time, but I nevertheless wanted to walk it carefully, making mental notes of how bad the pavement was in Cismigiu Park, of the long climb on the way back on Elisabeta, and of the spot where the road narrowed because some work was being done in an area that we were to pass through twice, at a point that the fastest runners were certain to reach the second time before the slowest will pass the first time.
Unrelated to the marathon, I’ll add that my back was complaining almost that entire time, and the backpack didn’t really allow me to snap it without forcing it or have a good posture, so I just had to deal with it. Otherwise, since I passed by it again, I finally had a quick look in that Zero Waste store, seeing a fair price for soy, but that was about it when it came to the products, what caught my attention more being that I also saw some books and wondered why they were there, whether they could be loaned or what, but couldn’t get myself to ask. And one last thing to add is that a girl who was riding a scooter fell right in front of me in Cismigiu, so I asked whether she was all right a few times and a woman who was also passing by did the same, but she seemed more worried about us than about the fall, so we walked away, and when I turned to look again I saw that another woman came to her and they stayed together, so maybe that was her mother.
I think it was just after 9:05 PM when I again reached the Carrefour from Unirii… Only to struggle for quite some time to get the backpack to fit in a cabinet, the LED tubes being the problem. They seemed to be just a little bit too big, so it seemed close enough that I kept trying but just couldn’t do it, and after a while the guard came over and told me there was no way to fit them in there and put some stickers on the backpack’s zippers, also saying that at 10 PM he’ll be closing and leaving, so anything still in the cabinets at that hour will be lost. Either way, I got that chocolate that was no longer available at Orhideea and a bag of corn puffs, then saw that the eggs sold by piece were discounted again and even bio (organic) ones were in that pile, so even though an employee came twice to also take some while I was doing so and also commented a little, and it was 20 minutes before closing when she came the first time, I took my time to check them all and select all 11 of those that weren’t cracked and two more with code one. Then, after taking the time to arrange everything in a bag, I was out of there at 9:55 PM and back at 10:45 PM.
Well, when I tried the LED tubes, they didn’t work. And dad tried to help and just got in my way, messed things up, annoyed me and got annoyed by me. But he eventually went to bed and I went to shower when it was 12:30 AM, so I didn’t even go to the toilet first, and it was past 1 AM when I got back to the kitchen and had lunch, with a whole bag of bagels, 250 grams, instead of bread. But at least I figured out that the tubes weren’t working because they had the contacts on a single side while our fixture has them on both… And I also noticed cracks in one tube, which I’m quite sure weren’t there when I bought it, and I had no idea whether it was the one I tried in different places or the one dad removed from the bathroom, and also couldn’t say for sure that those cracks weren’t present when I got back with the tubes, since they could have also been caused by my attempts to make them fit in that cabinet at Carrefour. And those cracks became more of a concern when dad woke up and went to the bathroom while I was making salad, I asked whether he’d try to rewire the fixture or I should try to return the tubes and he told me to try to return them. Either way, after also weighing what I had received and washing what was left in the kitchen, it was past 3 AM when I started making said salad, 4:15 AM when I started eating dinner, 5:15 AM when I finished and 5:55 AM when I got in bed.

Taking the LED tubes I meant to return, but also the light bulbs and small electronic parts we had to throw away and the paper, on October 21 I left a little after 4:50 PM, dropped off the paper in a recycling bin on the way, got to Orhideea a little before 6:30 PM, dropped off the other things in the appropriate bins and then, seeing nobody at that desk, I asked the employee from the room behind it about returns and she told me that the one who should have been at that desk was at the next one, where the cigarettes are. So I went there, told her I wanted to return something and she came to that desk, I gave her the tubes and the receipt and she marked them on it and gave it back to me along with the money, not even seeming to care when I said I was returning them because I realized I needed double sides ones, and definitely not pulling either of them out of the packaging even a little bit.
Then I went to give the bottles, seeing no other person there at the time and the one guy working in the area sitting down. However, a woman with a huge bag came as I was handing him my bottles and it seemed like she was also a regular, which made me wonder why did she bring so many more than she could get rewards for and I ended up telling him that I had gathered enough from my parents to come every day, at which point he told me to come in the morning and I said I couldn’t. Then a guard also came and asked if he could go ahead, since he just had four bottles, likely found around the area. So it was after him that I got to say what I wanted, and that guy counted correctly, so I got four Kapia peppers, weighing 393 grams, four Bianca peppers, weighing 362 grams, four potatoes, weighing 431 grams, four onions, weighing 403 grams, and four Golden apples, weighing 656 grams. But then he asked whether I really wanted to enter the raffle for a cleaning set, and when I said I thought something else was also available, he said reusable bags, saying no when I said I thought it was a scooter or something along those lines. And he really didn’t seem to want to bother with the ticket, so I reluctantly gave up on entering… And he handed my bag to the woman who had that large number of bottles, who then handed it to me. I still rather wanted to enter the raffle, however, regardless of the prizes, thinking that if one of those who had given me more products would have done this it’d have been fair enough, but when I received just what I was supposed to, then I was also supposed to get an entry, so I hovered around for a while, meaning to ask if it’d be so much trouble to get a ticket after all, but a few more people came and the guy was clearly going to be busy, so I eventually gave up.
Went into the store that day as well, again wandering around for a while, seeing that the price of lemons had dropped even more, so I shouldn’t have bought any the day before, and I also meant to get some bread for dad, but the lines were long and I gave up on that idea as well, again leaving without purchasing anything, peeing and walking out a bit after 7:10 PM. And I came straight back, just making one unintentional detour, being lost in my thoughts and forgetting to cross in one place, realizing it and going back after a couple hundred meters, and a very small intentional one, quickly checking this nearby store before getting back a little after 8:50 PM. Then I had a late lunch, after midnight, started eating dinner at 3:25 AM and got in bed at 5:25 AM.

And this is how far I got before getting in bed Monday morning, what I managed to post before midnight actually stopping when I got back here on October 20, the last paragraph about that day and the part about October 21 being added a few hours later. So it would be much fairer to end the post here and leave the rest for another, but the plan also included October 22 because there’s a lot to write about that day and a post including all of the remaining five days would be far too long, so stopping here would likely require splitting this into three posts, as I did in 2020, when in fact I just had seven days to write about, while now I’ll have nine, but when I’m barely staying at the very limit when it comes to personal posts, needing to throw something non-personal here as each week’s first post, I just can’t spare the additional slot, so I’m again doing what I’ve been doing lately and editing one more time, adding this final part the following night, so in the early hours of Tuesday.

On October 22 it was close to 4:40 PM when I went out, first going to Tei for some things dad wanted, though I also meant to get a couple for myself. That large backpack full of plastic bottles was a problem and I first tried to stuff it in a cabinet at the Mega Image next to the pharmacy, but it didn’t fit, so there was no chance of it fitting in the smaller ones available at Tei. I did try there too, just in case, but obviously had to give up and ended up leaving it with the guard watching the cameras. And the next problem was that the fact that there had been no line didn’t mean that there weren’t many customers, but that they had just decided to allow everyone to go in right away, so it was really crowded.
After grabbing the teas and what was the third option for something dad wanted, since it was the last on the shelf and I wanted an “insurance” in case I won’t find any of the first two, I looked for the first option, but didn’t ask when I couldn’t find it, the site listing it as unavailable as well. The second option should have been available, however, so when I couldn’t find any after thoroughly searching that shelf I grabbed one of the regular ones, so it’ll be clear what I was referring to when I’ll ask whether they still had any of the “Complex” as well. But the employees were busy, and the first free one I found, after wandering around for a while, said she worked with cosmetics and told me to find one working in that area. And when I stood next to one who was at a computer, helping another customer, she even told a coworker who came to ask something that she didn’t have time, so I walked away to keep looking, eventually approaching two who were talking to each other… Only for one to say that she’ll need to find a coworker from that section and take me right back to the one at the computer. So I waited for her to get to me, and while at first she just told me where that shelf was, when I told her there were none on it she took me to yet another employee, who was just a few steps away, and who just handed me one from the basket she had, so I guess she was just about to place more on the shelf. There was no price label for that product on the shelf, however, so I first used one of the price checkers, being surprised to see that the price was the same as for the regular version, then put what I thought was that regular one back on the shelf and went to grab the other things.
Well, at the checkout, the total was higher than what I had calculated, indicating that the discount hadn’t been applied for two things I got for dad, and when I pointed that out I was told that those things had been discounted a month or two before, which was wrong, since that discount had applied on October 16 and I had also checked on the site before leaving, and in fact once again after I got back that night, and it was still clearly listed. And there was the note on the shelf as well, so when the cashier insisted that the discount no longer applied, I told her I’ll bring her that note and ran to do just that. And when I got back she first told me a different total, one that indicated that one of the two had been discounted, but not both, so I handed her that note… Only for her to point out that it was for a different product, so I had somehow grabbed the wrong one. I still knew I was right about that discount, but nevertheless apologized and said that in that case I don’t want those two anymore, at which point she said she couldn’t just remove them, but had to cancel and then scan everything again, so I held up the line even longer.
After I was finally done, I retrieved my backpack and then went to the seats that are there, at first using the two free ones to arrange the purchases in a bag. Another person came and stood next to me while I was doing that, however, so I squeezed everything on one seat in order to let her sit on the other and rushed, forgetting that I had thrown that thing I had needed to ask for in a pocket and only realizing that it wasn’t in the bag after I walked out and checked it again. So I started searching myself, found it in that pocket… And realized that it was the regular one! So, assuming that it had been accidentally switched at checkout, maybe because the next customer also had one and had placed it there when I ran to grab that note, the cashier perhaps taking the wrong one when she scanned everything again, I turned back… Only to see that a long line had formed. Still, after trying to stand in it at first, I decided to walk up to the guard and tell him there had been a problem, and he told me to go in and talk to the one monitoring the cameras.
After I did that, he called someone, who came and said we should look at what the camera had recorded. So we did… Only to see nothing wrong, which left me very confused. At that point I said I hadn’t found that item on the shelf and had been handed one by another employee, so how could that happen, but she said I had received what I had placed there, so it was my fault and shouldn’t say it’s theirs. That’s fair, of course, though I’m not sure she understood what I said, possibly understanding that I had knowingly taken the regular one when I couldn’t find the “Complex”, or that I had seen that I had been handed a regular one before getting to the checkout. Either way, it was fortunately a sealed product, so she said they could make an exchange and I left my other purchases with the guard and followed her to that shelf… At which point I finally realized that I must have accidentally placed the “Complex” one back there instead of the regular one, because she grabbed it right from that spot and handed it to me.
Then we went to the same checkout to make the exchange, but that was a lengthy process, since it first required returning the first product, which involved calling another employee who brought some notebooks and wrote down some information, then giving my name and address and signing some forms. Also, while waiting for that other employee, the one who had taken me back there placed the product and the receipt on the belt and then left for a while, during which time I picked them up, not wanting to take any more chances, but when she came back she scolded me for touching them, saying that I’ll again say that something went wrong, so I just stood there after that, only providing the necessary information when asked. But at least the actual exchange was simple, also because both items had the same price, and when it was done I again apologized for the entire mess, saying I had no idea what was wrong with me that day. And after the cashier said that I was probably tired, I guess I ended up immediately proving her right, because I almost left my notebook there, and my ID card and certificate were also in it, so it’s a good thing she pointed it out to me as I was about to finally walk away. Then again, while obviously also being tired, considering those walks and that I was getting less sleep, and that those walks had also started right after that series of three runs in five days, I’m quite sure that the main reason for all of that was the need to interact, my brain having more or less shut down while I was searching for an employee to ask about that product, leading to being less and less aware of what I was actually doing.
Either way, the whole thing took 25 minutes and it was almost 6 PM when I was finally out again. And my brain really wasn’t working anymore, which led to going the wrong way at the first intersection, realizing it after a bit, going back, again going the wrong way a little later, again going back, and only finally finding my way after that. So I had to hurry, dropping the plan to look for some more bottles that seemed clean enough on the way, just peeing at Unirii and getting to Orhideea a bit before 7:40 PM.
Both guys were there at the time, but I again ended up dealing with the one who had been there the day before, and he just asked how many bottles I had and took me behind the panel, telling me to dump them in a bag, not counting or checking, and also not even mentioning the raffle, and after the previous day’s experience I didn’t either, though it again wasn’t because I was given more than I should have been, because he counted correctly and I got four Kapia peppers, weighing 557 grams, four Bianca peppers, weighing 375 grams, four carrots, weighing 529 grams, four potatoes, weighing 574 grams, and four Granny Smith apples, weighing 582 grams. But at least he backed me up when another employee who came to bring some more carrots while I was there asked if I hadn’t already been there that day and I said I hadn’t, but had been the day before.
After quickly going in and getting some bread for dad and also some expiring food I found, I peed again and left at 8:20 PM, continuing to rush, since I needed to also reach Penny. And I guess it’s a good thing I did hurry more than I absolutely had to, since it was only a few minutes after 9:30 PM when I got there and yet the guard, who at least wasn’t that same one who had apparently considered me very suspicious two weeks earlier, told me to hurry because they were closing. But I got what I wanted and was out in 15 minutes, and at least I wasn’t searched again. Then I took some time to count the coins I had left, twice, and was back just before 10:20 PM.
After first having some watermelon, I showered, then had lunch, starting at 12:50 AM and finishing at 1:25 AM. There was more to do after that, however, and having skin that was cracked and peeling off my right thumb made it harder, but I started eating dinner at 3:40 AM, finished at 5:15 AM and got in bed at 5:35 AM. Something I only realized after waking up was that I had forgotten the staples I had removed from the bag from Carrefour on the kitchen table and only half of them were still there at that point, so I was worried about the cats, but there fortunately didn’t seem to be any problems.


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