Does anybody hate going to the supermarket as much as I do?
There’s nothing that strikes dread into my heart as much as the weekly food shop. First, the agonising process of making up “the shopping list” – while I wrack my brains trying to work out which of the 5 meals I can reliably cook – we haven’t had recently, and their associated ingredients.
And you can guarantee that no matter how carefully I make up that list – “checking it twice” – I will always come home to discover that I have left something absolutely vital off the list that we just cannot live without. Like toilet paper. Or cooking oil. Meanwhile, I’ve been suckered into buying a new brand of crackers, a pair of house socks that were “on special”, some herbal tea that looked interesting, a box of candles “just in case” (and they smell nice) and a bag of frozen ‘curly fries’ because the picture on the packet looked so inviting. All really essential stuff.
And while we’re on the subject of buying unnecessary things, why is it that I always seem to end up going to the supermarket just before lunchtime? Or at other times when I’m HUNGRY?? Because somehow, your idea of “nutritious food groups” and “essential items for the pantry” starts changing a bit when your stomach is growling!
And by the way – I am convinced that all supermarkets are involved in a global consipiracy against short people. Seriously, I have lived in many countries and shopped in many supermarkets – and every one of them seems to delight in placing essential items on the topmost shelf, tantalisingly out of reach for – er – vertically-challenged people like me.
There is nothing as embarrassing as standing by the fridge unit, cursing and stretching on tip-toe, trying unsuccessfully to reach the milk on the top shelf and then debating which is less humiliating: to go up to a perfect (tall) stranger and ask him to get the milk for you – or to climb up into the fridge yourself, standing on shelves of yoghurt and chocolate mousse, to reach your Semi-Skimmed…
Timing your visit to the supermarket is key. I try my best to avoid the 4pm post-school rush hour when the supermarkets are bombarded by poor harassed mothers juggling a screaming baby and their uniformed brats as they try to remember their shopping lists. But it seems that no matter when I time my visit to the supermarket, it always coincides with the outing of some crazy old woman who looks like she stepped straight out of the gingerbread house in Hansel & Gretel and chases me around the aisles with the sole intent of ramming her trolley into mine.
Once you’ve run the gauntlet of list amnesia, discount temptations and mad trolley witch, you then come to that last, greatest obstacle of all. The Checkout. Where you’re plunged into a serious case of Checkout Lane Envy.
My husband and I used to have heated debates by the checkout counters, which nearly ended in divorce – trying to decide which lane moved the fastest.
Of course, whichever lane you chose was guaranteed to have the woman who decides she wants to open a store card, the man who wants a price check on some obscure item or the mother with the baby who bashes all the eggs and needs them replaced…while the woman who was 6 trolleys behind you in the next lane smiles smugly as she sails past and gathers her shopping bags to leave.
I have to say, though, now that I’m doing the food shop alone during the week (one ‘perk’ of working from home and an attempt to give my poor, overworked husband a bit more of a weekend) – I have the pleasure of choosing the lane all by myself. Even better, the advent of all those glorious self-serve checkouts is heaven-sent to OCD, control-freaks like me who used to break out in hives watching the checkout girl pack my eco bags. Let’s just say, I like my shopping bags packed a certain way. ONE certain way. And now at the self-serve counters, I can pack and re-pack to my anal heart’s content
The big negative of shopping on your own, though, is when you finally struggle out with your loot and you find that you’ve picked that trolley. The one with the wonky wheel. The one that only wants to go to the LEFT all the time. And there always seems to be a slope between the supermarket and the carpark (another consipiracy against “small people”!) whereupon you’re fighting gravity the whole way, burning rubber with the soles of your shoes as you frantically hang on, trying to stop your trolley from racing straight down the slope and ploughing into the disabled lady getting out of her car.
And when you finally get home (and taken two paracetamols), you realise the worst thing about shopping at the supermarket: all those absolutely vital things you forgot to write on your list? Looks like you’ll have to go back tomorrow…