A common conversation between Oliver and myself would go something like this,
"Hey, Oliver, where do you find X?"
"At the Netto."
"But I was just there, and they didn't have it."
"Try again. It's there. The Netto has everything."
"Hey Oliver, where do I buy Y?"
"At the Netto."
"Oliver, buddy, I swear to you I looked those isles up and down and I didn't see anything like Y, just Z--lot's of Z."
"Try harder, it's there. The Netto has everything."
This is not a problem you have when visiting other states in the US. In America, there are national brands, and certain algebraic constants of 'style' 'color' and 'formula' that you are trained to that helps you find things. Even though the 'placement logic' of milk-nextto-butter-nextto-yogurt-nextto-cheese-nextto-meat stays constant, I've found it incredibly difficult to see things. This is not me going blind. I'm reminded of a Doctor Who episode where the Doctor rigged it so he and his friends had the same kind of protection field as the TARDIS--making them invisible not by distorting light, but by making them unimportant to the human mind.
I would literally walk by the milk, ignoring it, reach the meat and think I've walked too far, walk back the other way--past the milk again--to the bread and think I've walked too far again, but I know it has to be between here and there! The problem is that the shapes, colors, and names of all the products are completely different. Scanning the shelves doesn't work--period.
I can't imagine why this wasn't a bigger problem last year, but I think it may have to do with how I didn't have to buy many groceries last year (I ate in the cafeteria)--but now I have to buy and prepare everything I intend to eat.
So I developed a technique to combat the illusion--just keep staring. When I've found the place between the bread and meat where I know the milk has to be, I just keep staring at the shelves until I can sort out the barrage of strange shapes and colors. I found the milk, not in plastic bottles like at Publix, but in cartons in crates on the bottom shelves.
I have found butter in the oddest of shapes.
Chocolate is its own timezone.
Ume Pflaume is still the best thing ever made.
There is no mayonnaise in Germany, only Miracle Whip, no matter what they claim.
But, in spite of that, I've come to find The Netto Has Everything.