First of all, yes, I know it’s a day late! Slap my wrist and call me Sally! Anyway, it’s here now and this time it’s another rant about one of my pet peeves: supermarkets, and food shopping in general!
Writers have to eat, you know and, unless they have a servant/good neighbour/relative /other half/child, or devoted love-slave, they have to occasionally unhook themselves from their computer screen and risk the soul-less, brightly lit aisles of temptation called the supermarket.
I do this unwillingly every week, gearing myself up before with a list that must never be veered from, a good strong coffee, and the promise of biscuits when I get back. But while I am in the clutches of the big, bad, modern food emporium, there are a few things that only serve to make my misery worse:
1) The trolley with a wonky wheel. The trolley that insists on driving itself into displays and other people’s feet and, occasionally, when I turn my back, decides to go off on a little journey of its own down the aisle (wheel now mysteriously going in the right direction).
2) People (usually men) who suddenly strike up a completely tuneless hum or whistle as if they think we somehow need entertaining. (Hint: we don’t).
3) Children screaming because they can’t have something they want. No further elaboration needed here!
4) Couples arguing – usually over the most petty thing – such as margarine. Get real people! There are proper wars going on out there and none of them are over which spread has the best taste!
5) Spare husbands. Often related to point 4. These are the men who are dragged to the supermarket by their partners, maybe because they are the only ones who can drive, and who then spend every minute in there looking miserable, hanging around and generally getting in the way of everyone else.
6) Leaners. The people who insist on leaning their whole top bodies on the trolley handle while their feet shuffle audibly to push them along. This species often travels extremely slowly and is blinking good at taking up more space than their actual (usually considerable) physical mass.
7) Shelf stackers. Well, some of them. The ones that leave their pallets so as to cause maximum disruption in the aisles while they push in front of you to neatly stack up the goods on the shelf. And then make you feel really guilty when you take one and ruin their artistic endeavours.
8) Shop floor workers (again) – standing around in groups of two or more, talking and often slagging off another member of staff.
9) And this one is for certain Sainsbury’s stores: The Fast Track system by which you scan your purchases with a special hand-held scanner and then take said scanner to till, thus cutting out all the loading on belt and packing nonsense. Hence you fly through the checkout smiling smugly while other lesser mortals are still waiting to do it the old fashioned way. Well, that’s how it should be. But then you get the dreaded ‘rescan’ which means that the supermarket has suddenly decided not to trust your scanning abilities and needs to check for itself. Hence, you have to unload your nicely packed bag onto the belt and, yup, do it the old-fashioned way. Which, of course, holds everyone up behind you (because there’s usually only one or two of these Fast Track tills), and then Fast Track turns into Slow Track.
10) Empty shelves. Probably something to do with point 7. Instead of finding what is on your wonderfully efficient list, there is instead a gaping hole where your teabags should be. And they’re the only teabags in the world you like: no others will do. All the other brands are there – just not the one you want, and there is not a shelf stacker in site (because they’re busy blocking one of the other aisles). You go home feeling a small, inexplicable sense of failure, and the impending doom of a tea-less existence.
11) Trolley parking. I usually make sure I am close to a designated trolley park but sometimes you find yourself nowhere near one and you really can’t be bothered to walk across half the car park. So you find a place where it won’t be a danger, or in the way and just leave it. But heck! Don’t you feel just a little guilty doing that? As if you’ve broken some unwritten rule? And then there is my very personal hate: trolleys that are carelessly pushed into a trolley park without thought of slotting them into another trolley, or even lining them up. Strewn Trolleys! Untidy trolleys! It drives me so mad I have been known to go and stack them neatly myself. There again, maybe it’s just a small case of trolley OCD.