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’s 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 ten 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 conveyor 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 the 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.