Long Walks to "Pay" with PET Bottles – 2021 Edition – II
To continue from where I left off, on October 23 I left a bit after 4:45 PM, finally with just 20 bottles again, only adding 15 to the five extra ones that were untouched since I first put them in that smaller pocket of the backpack, since I meant to pick up five more on the way if I’d find clean ones in places where I wouldn’t feel watched. And that wasn’t an issue, so after first picking up a larger one I realized I had plenty of choice, the next four being small, clean and easy to flatten, in fact one already being rather flattened and another flattened really well by cars and yet still clean, plus that one was one of those made from recycled plastic that granted an additional product. And I had all five by the time I reached Unirii, so I went into that shopping center to pee and wash my hands.
Got to Orhideea at 6:40 PM and there was a line, so I waited in it, and when my turn came it was with the guy who had dealt with me before the previous two days. However, he had apparently “learned” from the other one, since he didn’t mention the raffle either, and again I also didn’t, though he also counted correctly that time, just giving me an extra cucumber for that bottle. Admittedly, he did ask for one more type of item after he had given me five, and when I told him that he went through them again and realized that I was right, so I’m not sure whether he had really lost count or pretended to, wanting to give me more again. But there wasn’t really anything else I’d have wanted to pick, and there had been no Kapia peppers or fibbers at all, so I got four Bianca peppers, weighing 334 grams, four carrots, weighing 437 grams, four onions, weighing 361 grams, four potatoes, weighing 625 grams, and five cucumbers, weighing 434 grams. And he also didn’t bother to staple the bag or ask whether I’ll go in, but I went in with it anyway, just to have a quick look, since I was in a hurry. Then I peed again and left just before 7:10 PM.
The reason for being in a hurry was that I also wanted to go to Kaufland that evening, so I used the route taking me to the Carrefour and Kaufland that are next to each other in this area… Only to realize on the way that I might have accidentally taken my certificate out of that notebook before leaving, that fear being confirmed when I checked, so I was worried that, even though nobody had stopped me to check until then, it’ll happen just that evening. But it didn’t happen until I got there, so I reached the mall Carrefour’s in a bit before 8:40 PM, just had another quick look, then went to Kaufland, being there at 9 PM and seeing evening discounts for bakery products, so I got a few buns, not being interested in anything else that was left, then grabbed the other things I wanted and was back out a bit after 9:50 PM. Not having the certificate made me worry even more on the way back, when a few police cars passed by, one stopping a car on the other side of the road, but none stopped for me.
I was back at 10:20 PM and dad showed me that he had been given a lot of nuts and grapes and wanted me to select them, and while I told him I had no time for that, he then talked to mother and said he’ll be going there to take some to her the next day, though the plan had been for October 26 until then. So, after showering, I had lunch, between 12:55 AM and 1:15 AM, and then took care of the grapes, having some while slicing bread, from 3:20 AM. Then I also mixed some cheese, taking care to not spill any only to stick the fork in it once I was done and having it tip over and throw out enough for a few bites, which on top of the waste meant that I had more to clean up. So it was 3:55 AM when I finally started eating dinner, and 5:35 AM when I got in bed. And I was also making a note of the fact that, though it hadn’t otherwise happened during that week, my feet were noticeably swollen again that night, albeit not terribly so. But at least they weren’t burning again. On the other hand, I’ll also add here that we still have a handful of nuts out of the part that we kept.
On October 24, I left a bit after 5:30 PM, also taking the change, which I had tried to make as easy to count as possible, separating the coins by value and putting the 0.50 RON ones in a tube and the others sort of in rolls. And I again looked for some more clean bottles on the way, to be able to still keep those five spare ones in the backpack, but it seemed that some areas had been cleaned and I only meant to get small ones, so it wasn’t as easy and I just had three by the time I got to Unirii. Had seen a fourth in a police parking lot, but couldn’t take it over or through the fence and the entrance was on the other side, and while nobody was there at first, by the time I went around that fence a police car was driving in, so I gave up on that idea. Then I peed in that shopping center and just grabbed one more bottle on the way to Orhideea, changing my mind about another which I had meant to grab despite being larger, since it was a Pepsi bottle and when I had a closer look I realized it was too obvious that it hadn’t been washed, dark drops being visible inside. And it was getting late, so I even jogged for a while, on the last part of the route, which hurt my right ankle, since I was wearing the new shoes. But at least I found that fifth bottle in Orhideea’s parking lot.
I was late, walking in just before 7:25 PM, but still went to wash my hands first… Only to be told to put the bottles in myself, that guy who seemed to care more again being the one to deal with me and saying he knew I had 20. Then he asked what I wanted, but there weren’t many options left, so I said Kapia and carrots, then started looking while both guys were there, with my bag, being rather confused when they mentioned Bianca peppers but I didn’t see any. They also asked more than once whether I wanted potatoes too, but they seemed small and I didn’t say anything, so that one who seemed to care more asked the other to get closer, maybe to hide what they were doing, and they poured a crate of Kapia peppers in my bag, then added some carrots and I also asked for what were most likely parsnip roots, though there’s also a small chance they were actually parsley roots, and they added some of those as well before closing the bag. No mention of the raffle again, of course, and the other guy seemed rather surprised that I was going into the store, sounding like he was stating that I won’t, not asking whether I will, and after I told him I had to go in he stapled my bag, but just handed me the sticker, to put it on it myself.
Well, if I had told them that they had given me too many when I saw them pour what was left in that crate of Kapia peppers into the bag, when they didn’t ask me to pick anything else after those roots, which were the third category I had picked, I felt that they had in fact given me too little overall, thinking that I had likely received a double quantity of Kapia peppers but two categories less. So, when I crouched behind the crates of products that weren’t yet on the shelves in order to put that sticker on the bag and stuff it in the backpack and saw that those Bianca peppers they had mentioned were there, I grabbed one and threw it into the backpack. And they probably noticed that, the guy who had given me the bag looking at me oddly when I walked away, and I almost turned around to return that pepper, but eventually kept going, despite feeling awfully embarrassed for stealing it. And when I got back I saw that they hadn’t given me fewer products after all, having eight Kapia peppers, weighing 1.071 kg, two fibbers, which I hadn’t noticed at all at the time, weighing 340 grams, six of those roots, weighing 639 grams, and carrots weighing 655 grams, though the number is harder to list, since there were three whole ones, just a tip, which shouldn’t count, and two that weren’t whole but would probably be large enough to count separately, so at least four and more likely five. As such, the total was at least 20, and more likely 21, and I had received more products from the more expensive categories, making my theft, of one Bianca pepper weighing 110 grams, even worse.
Either way, after going in the store and picking up the other power strip dad had asked me to get, I took the bag with the vegetables back out of the backpack for a moment and managed to squeeze that Bianca pepper in it as well, between the staples. Then I got the other things I wanted, but somehow made a mistake while calculating the total despite even using the calculator on my phone, and more than once, so it ended up at 53.13 RON when I had wanted to just get over 50 RON, in order to be able to also give those coins and get the reward. And I also thought I had the 0.13 RON in coins, on top of the ones I had to hand over, I mean, but at the checkout found that I just had two 0.01 RON ones, searching myself for one more but the cashier eventually saying that it was fine as it was. And then, while at first I was confused about those additional 3 RON, I calculated again after throwing the purchases into bags and realized that it was the correct total.
That still left me needing to hand over those coins, so I went to the information desk and asked how badly will I be cursed out if I asked about that campaign, but the employee didn’t seem amused, just asking if I had a lot of change. And then, after I said I had the required 50 RON and a receipt for purchases of over 50 RON, pulled everything out and mentioned that I had tried to make the coins as easy to count as possible, separating them like that, she just quickly poured them all out and took the entire pile away, coming back a little later with the 50 RON bill, the gift card with 5 RON on it, and a list, asking for my name… And also ending up putting Lucian as last name and just Robert as first. I still can’t quite get how can people mix them up, but at least she corrected when I specified that Negut was my last name, then asked me to sign and sent me on my way.
After peeing again, I was finally leaving at 8:50 PM, so it was too late to be back for the start of the race. I still hurried, however, wanting to be back before dad left and just managing it, being here a bit before 10:20 PM, having carried some 13.5 kg. And there had been a potentially dangerous moment on the way, a guy who seemed really angry suddenly getting up as I was approaching the spot where he had been sitting, shouting and making angry moves and walking away, obviously furious, also kicking two garbage cans he passed by. But he was ahead of me, just kept walking and seemed angry with life, fate, something which had happened, not seeming to really be aware of anything else, so I just kept walking behind him and had no problems. On the other hand, since I had forgotten to bandage it again before leaving, the crack or cut on my right thumb had opened again while in Carrefour, and before getting there I had touched those bottles found on the street as well.
Otherwise, I had noticed that it was again “raining” in the fridge for the past couple of days, and when I had a better look that evening I saw that water had again gathered at the bottom and that drain was clogged, so I unclogged it and then took the water out, using the bowl dad had used for salad… And which I later also used for the salad I made that night, obviously after washing it thoroughly and even spraying with some alcohol. Either way, after removing that water I showered quickly, then microwaved one of the cakes purchased from Carrefour, since I simply didn’t feel safe eating it directly, and despite putting it on a plate it toppled over and the chocolate was spilling out by the time I looked again, so I lost a bit of that chocolate and also the cream at the top. Then I made mamaliga, started eating dinner at 3:40 AM and got in bed at 5:45 AM.
Since I still had some bottles and the campaign moved to the second location from Bucharest, at Vulcan, between October 30 and November 5, on November 3 the alarm woke me at 10 AM and it was a bit after 12:35 PM when I left, also taking the recyclables and dropping them off in a bin on the way. I again left with 20 bottles, but those five were still in that smaller pocket and I again meant to pick up five more on the way, getting four before reaching Unirii and going in to wash one that was rather dirty, and obviously also to wash my hands, and also peeing since I was there. And then, after grabbing the fifth bottle as well, I washed again at a gas station I saw as I was approaching my destination. Then I did get a bit confused, but figured things out quickly enough and managed to follow the planned route. That meant going all around that area, since I only later realized that I didn’t need to do so, but at least I got there well enough, though it was almost 2:50 PM when I went in.
The two girls who were working in that area when I got there seemed quite nice, and while somebody had taken all the remaining Kapia peppers just before the turn of the person who was before me came, others were put in right away. Then, when the girls saw my full backpack, one said that the limit was 20 bottles per person, but I said I knew that and had exactly 20… And then I guess I ended up proving that I knew the campaign really well when a guard just threw some bottles in, one of the girls scolded her and said that they had to check them, the guard said that she had seen even oil and milk bottles being accepted that morning and I joined the girls in telling her that it was impossible, after which I also explained to her why oil bottles couldn’t be accepted.
Either way, then my turn came, I first asked for Kapia peppers and was given six, weighing 811 grams, the girl just continuing when I pointed out that I had been given too many, also giving me six tomatoes, weighing 1.047 kg, and five white onions, weighing 701 grams, the only thing she counted correctly out of those first four I picked being the beets, the four weighing 528 grams. As for the fifth category, four large celery roots were left, weighing what turned out to be 4.313 kg, and when I asked for them she asked whether I wanted them all, but after I said I did if it’s possible she said it certainly was, putting them in a second bag. Then I said I’ll be back on the last day as well and she told me to write my name and number on raffle ticket myself, so I finally got another entry and there were no more problems with it either. And she also asked whether I wanted help to get the bags in the backpack, but I told her to see to the next customer and eventually stuffed the first bag in, after failing to get the one with the celery to fit… Which celery bag had torn open when I picked it up, so I also took the stapler and stapled it closed again, then moved a few steps away, behind some larger products, and struggled a while longer, until I finally managed to get both bags to fit in the backpack.
Then I explored the store, finding that the discount for expiring products in that location was 65%, so I grabbed two things from there, plus a cabbage and a pumpkin… And then I also found that the self-checkouts in that location accept cash as well, which I’m yet to see in any other Carrefour. But the reason why I noticed that was that I was ready to pay by card, some of what I had deposited a week earlier still being in my account, so my mind was set on it and I ended up paying by card anyway, and in full, even though those machines also offer the option of partial payment, so I could have left an amount that I could then withdraw in full, since that needs to be a multiple of 10 RON, but I just didn’t think of it at that moment.
Either way, I then spent some more time struggling to see whether I could fit more in the backpack, but in the end had to settle for just putting those two expiring products there and the cabbage and pumpkin in a bag. But I couldn’t settle for not going to the toilet again before leaving, however, so when I couldn’t go there, the toilets being cleaned at that moment and a cleaner pulling the cart of supplies in order to block the door when she saw me waiting around, I went to use those from that Kaufland. They were rather dirty and there was no light in the stalls, but I had to deal with it, and was finally leaving the area at 4:30 PM.
On the way back, I finally stopped to get some sweets from a place near the Carrefour from Unirii, on the street. Kept meaning to try something from there and had set my mind on finally doing so as soon as possible after running the marathon, since I hadn’t passed through that area after it, so I asked for a mix, two pieces of two of the kinds and one of two others, and when those added up to more than the 15 RON I had meant to spend I decided to go to 20 RON, asking for enough of a fifth kind to be added to get there. I had meant to try two more kinds, and when I saw how much of that one was added I realized I could have done so, but what was done was done, so I left it at that, asking to replace some of that fifth kind with a piece of the sixth not seeming right and the total already being a little more than 20 RON anyway.
I still wanted to get some zacusca for dad, however, so when I didn’t find any when I checked that Mega Image, I decided to change the route in order to also reach that larger one from this area before getting back… And again proved that the shortest route is the one you know, since my attempt to get there a little bit faster likely resulted in walking a slightly longer distance, and in fact losing even more time because I decided to also check another Mega Image I happened to pass by, not finding any there either. But I did find plenty at that larger one, so I got five… And wondered whether to ask whether I could split the amount between card and cash, to clear what was left in my account, but there were many customers and I couldn’t get myself to do so, not wanting to complicate matters and hold up the line.
I was back a couple of minutes after 7 PM, having carried a total of 18 kg. Then I had a large quince and, some time later, some of the purchased sweets, though I had meant to try one of one kind and one of another but accidentally ended up eating both of a single kind. Either way, I then did two loads of laundry… And started feeling a little strange and after hanging them to dry, and since I continued to feel that way after showering and while making the salad, I eventually took a pill before starting to eat what was a mix of lunch and dinner, since it included a serving of pasta, at 3:20 AM. And my feet, which had been somewhat swollen when I woke up that morning, were clearly swollen again at night, though they had looked much better in the evening, after I got back. Either way, I got in bed at 5:30 AM.
Seeing as I’m again doing what I keep doing lately, adding what I have before midnight and then editing multiple times later, in order to add the rest, I’ll mention here that this is how far I got before going to bed in the morning, the part I posted before midnight ending after managing to fit both bags of vegetables in the backpack and the rest, starting with exploring the Carrefour from Vulcan, being added a few hours later. This left November 5 to be added the following night, so in the early hours of Tuesday.
Yes, on November 5 I ran and fell, but it was the last day of the campaign and I still had plastic bottles, so I had to go out again and make one more long walk, and couldn’t even eat something first, needing the time to clean and struggle to bandage the wounds. Bandaging the elbow on my own was hard and I couldn’t quite do it, so when I put on the shoes a part of the cotton fell out, but that was actually a good thing, since it made me bandage the area a little better before actually leaving. And I first went out the door at 5:25 PM, but realized I had forgotten the money, so I turned around, leaving the small bag of trash I had taken on the hallway, which resulted in it spilling and having to gather the contents and only finally leaving the building at 5:30 PM. Then, after throwing that bag in the first bin, I used the better route, leading to the other entrance to that area and being a fair bit shorter at the end.
I got there at 6:55 PM and found that not many things were left, and cabbages were kept behind the panel, so I heard that they existed but couldn’t see them, and those working there were telling those who asked that they couldn’t give more of those, just one per person or so. But they were giving more from the other categories, so I first picked Kapia peppers and when I was asked how many and I said that the maximum was four, I was told that wasn’t the case, because it was the end and they didn’t have many different categories left, so they could give more. As such, and because white potatoes that were somewhat larger had just been brought, I changed my choice, saying that in that case I’d want more of those, agreeing when I was asked whether that’d be 20 potatoes, and actually being given 25, weighing 3.225 kg. And then I was surprised to still be asked about Kapia peppers as well, receiving 17, weighing exactly 2 kg, and when I told the girl that she was putting in too many she said that it was all right. After that, I was again left to write my information on the raffle ticket and put it in the box, and then the girl offered to help me put the bag in the backpack and I said I doubted that it was possible. However, I again went behind some products and tried, and while the injuries and bandages made it harder to move that arm and leg, after a while I managed to somehow stuff it in there, though I couldn’t fully close the zipper.
Then I grabbed a few expiring things and some food for Liza and used the self-checkout, making good use of the available options in order to clear all that was left in my account and then pay the rest in cash, though the system was different from what I was used to, from Kaufland and Auchan, so it took me a while to figure out how to put in the cash. Then I managed to fully close the zipper, peed and was out of that center at 8 PM, but only left that area an hour later, since I also checked out that Kaufland. With bakery products only being discounted by 30% at that time, at first I didn’t mean to get anything, but I waited for 8:30 PM and it was a good thing I did, since at that point I saw an employee scan those prices one by one and when I asked her whether the discounts increased she said they did, to 80%! And there were three of those breads left, so I got all of them, plus two pastries, and then decided to also add four lemons. That meant that I ended up walking past the bakery area again before going to the self-checkout, at which point I saw that the new price labels they were placing listed discounts of 71-72%, not 80%, and 72% was also what I saw at the self-checkout, but I shrugged it off.
I was back a little after 10:40 PM, having carried just 12 kg. My left ankle was bothering me a little, and I again had irregular heartbeats at night, but what made things much worse was the lack of hot water. So I had a very late lunch, finished just after 1 AM, then took care of the other things I had to do in the kitchen, started making the salad at 2:15 AM and started eating dinner at 3:45 AM. And then, since the site stated that the hot water should return at 7 AM and dad was supposed to leave at 7:10 AM, I stayed up and waited… Only to see the listed time change to 2 PM when I looked again before dad left, around 7:20 AM, and when I first checked at that point it was still cold, so I meant to give up and go to bed unwashed… Only to feel warm water when I washed my hands after peeing, at 7:30 AM, so I jumped in the bath and only finally got in bed at 8:55 AM.
Since I also calculated all of that, I’ll add here that, in total, I received 5.781 kg of potatoes, 5.719 kg of Kapia peppers, 4.313 kg of celery roots, 2.823 kg of carrots, 2.309 kg of Bianca peppers, not counting the 110 grams I stole, 1.67 kg of tomatoes, 1.27 kg of Granny Smith apples, 1.092 kg of Golden apples, 1.057 kg of fibbers, 992 grams of cucumbers, 766 grams of Idared apples, 764 grams of yellow onions, 701 grams of white onions, 700 grams of Gala apples, 639 grams of what were probably parsnip roots, and 528 grams of beets. And, while many could have obviously been purchased for lower prices from other stores during that period, at the prices they were being sold at in Carrefour on the days I received them, all of these were worth just about 130 RON, or more exactly 129.84 RON, not counting the 0.49 RON for that Bianca pepper I stole. And, as surprising as it may be, I still have three of those Granny Smith apples. Since apples store well and I have a lot of them, it’s possible that a few of the others are still there as well, mixed with the rest, but I’m mentioning these because I can be sure of it, since they’re so easily identifiable and I haven’t bought or received any more since then.