Supermarkets: a necessary evil 76



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We all need to go there, at some time or another. Some may try to buy organically at the local farmer’s market, others may grow their own vegies, but eventually, you need to visit a supermarket. Firstly, park in the car park, try to avoid other cars backing into you, and try to avoid backing into others. Then choose a trolley. Best to give it a test push before you find yourself in aisle 13 with your trolley wheels locked into a spasm of rebellious inertia. Take a list, and if you are over 50, take your reading glasses so you can read your list and read the labels.

Most supermarkets are set out to lure you into the sort of mesmerised state where you morph into a being who is willing to part with lots of money. Carefully stacked ‘Specials’ convince you that you will be saving money. The music, or muzak as it is also known, is hell bent on beating your aural receptors into submission. Schmaltzy ballads or Mariah Carey screeching are favourites. You wheel your trolley from isle to isle, carefully selecting the items on your list. Of course you read labels; you need to know how much fat and how many chemicals are lurking in the brightly packaged articles on the shelf. You can generally tell the other shoppers over fifty as they hold their purchases at arm length and peer at them with great intensity.

Shoppers vary in shape, size and age. Mums with kids hanging haphazardly off trolleys laden with packaged junk foods are coerced by scheming and screaming children into filling their trolleys with the tempting rubbish which is at child level. Men often look clueless, and no I am not sexist, they really do. Then there are the retirees. Men who accompany their wives and straggle along behind like ageing, listless dogs out for a walk. They stand in the middle of aisles, blocking the access of those who are busier than they are. They loudly discuss the purchases, as if finally after years of supplying the dosh for the daily bread, they are now experts on what the daily bread will be. Then there are the workers in their synthetic shirts and pants, usually with either a panicked or a bored expression, as if they have realised that this career is just a stop gap, or worse, that there are no other options out there.

I fill my trolley, mostly healthy stuff if I am being sensible (and I am at the moment). I stonily ignore the lure of the shining cherry ripe wrappers and search for a clear checkout. As I lunge at the closest, the checkout person reminds me snarkily that it is for 10 items or less. The others are all full. I choose what looks the shortest, and then flick through the thoughtfully provided rack of magazines to see how Jen is coping without Brad, and how Angelina’s breeding programme is going. Finally, I am through, I load the stuff onto the conveyer belt and remember I forgot the green bags again. My shopping is loaded into those filmy environmentally sound plastic bags which biodegrade before you even trundle them into your house. Now for the money. You watch in quiet panic as your total is totted up on the magic computer screen. You realise that the smoked salmon was wildly expensive, and as for that mango. Never mind. A woman needs to eat.

All over, wheel the trolley to the lift, up to the car park, stash it in the boot and then park your trolley in the trolley bay. Wipe sweat from furrowed brow. Step in a discarded spill from a Wendy’s ice-cream, turn on the ignition, and get the hell out of there.

Do you love or loathe going shopping? Do you get in and out of the supermarket or do you enjoy being there? Tell us about your worst or funniest experience here.

Karen Jones

Born in New Zealand, Karen now happily lives in the mid-north coast of New South Wales. She retired early due to ill health and now focuses on her love of walking, writing, reading and spending time with her grandchildren. With a degree in writing, Karen became a blogger and book reviewer for Starts at 60, which has enabled her passions to become enjoyable pastimes. Her recipe for bliss is a well made flat white, a friendly cat and a sea view.

  1. Worsted thing is you got to always watch their pricing, they trick you with that. Doesn’t pay to be in a hurry. Also watch them at the checkout. I do and pick up many mistakes. I complain, but I noticed, not many people do.

  2. Karen, you have described the supermarket experience so accurately, especially the part about retired husbands. I have suddenly realised that, after years of shopping by myself, I haven’t been doing it correctly. I have not been looking at the kilo price and should be buying different sizes etc. I was even told how to buy the correct lettuce yesterday! I am glad to know I am not alone in suffering this experience. I wish there was a crèche for husbands in these places lol.

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    • Maybe not a crèche for waiting husbands, but at least a comfy chair!

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      • I saw a store on Rodeo Drive Judy that had a men’s lounge; GOM was too scared of what I might do to the credit card to even go inside. Mind you, I think the security person on the door would have sussed out our non-deigner clothes and denied entry. 🙂

    • That is so precious! Actually I did see a place in England, advertising day care for men. It was a bar of course!

    • Thankfully my husband doesn’t want to join me on my shopping trips and I am very encouraging of that particular attitude, but my daughter’s does go sometimes. She buys him a crossword type lottery ticket and leaves him on a convenient seat somewhere and by the time he’s finished it she’s usually finished!

  3. Don’t mind it. Hubby always comes & is a great help. Always have a list & stick to it. I have already checked catalogued on line & I know most of my prices, & always check the price/100gm etc. so when I buy say cheese it will be the best value one, not necessarily the same each time

  4. Enjoyed the supermarket adventure, Karen albeit at your expense! 😀
    Thankfully, we can avoid multi-level shopping centres/car parks. Most of the time we park kerbside, meter-free, and shop independent in the towns of Ulverstone and Latrobe. Sadly, not everyone is so fortunate!

  5. My late husband was a frantically busy regional town Pathologist – he loved supermarket shopping. I would give him a list, which he would re-arrange into where it was in the supermarket, then off he would go for his hours escapism treat. Now i have to do it myself – and i hate it! The Coles Muzak makes me want to leave as soon as i get there and i am no where near as methodical as he was.

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  6. I don’t mind, husband and I do it together sometimes, he just pushes the trolley. Rarely have a list, but have in mind meals for the week, and shop accordingly.

  7. Getting home and having to get all the shopping from the car into the house, then putting it all away, that takes the any fun out of it.

  8. I am the most efficient shopper I can go into the stupidmarket and just buy milk. And out again not tempted at all as for the smoked salmon and mango why not? If you can afford it after all this is the rest of our life we gave been saving for

  9. I don’t mind shopping, always have a list. My husband far more efficient than me. He wheels the trolley, helps him get round the supermarket.

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