Grocery shopping. Don’t you just love it? For me, grocery shopping exists on four levels.
1. Online Shopping
Doing one’s shopping on the P.C. or laptop in your own living room (or from the comfort of your heated toilet seat if you’ve downloaded the shopping app.) is by far the most preferred and most convenient method. Scroll through the menus, click on all your desired items, book your delivery slot, and relax. Couldn’t be simpler.
Until, that is, your online shopping arrives and your friendly delivery driver pulls out the list of ‘replacement items’. While the driver is stacking crates of shopping on your doorstep and silently hoping that you’re not going to give him/her any shit, you peruse the list. It is at this moment that you discover that your supermarket of choice has employed a complete idiot to collect your shopping from the aisles.
• Salted Butter – replacement = a petro-chemical by-product which has not been within 100 miles of a cow.
• Jersey New Potatoes – replacement = Tinned New Potatoes. Seriously? TINNED! TINNED!
• Wholemeal Loaf – replacement = Natural Loofah. That’ll take some swallowing!
Of course, there is also the chance that one or two items were not in stock and your ‘personal shopper’ has exhausted his/her extraordinary imagination, leaving you with no option but to go to the supermarket yourself. If you’re lucky, you’ll be…
2. Shopping Alone
For the male, shopping is very much like sex. He’s in, he gets what he wants, and he’s out. Even the cashier, who was hoping, at the very least, for a little small talk, is left completely unsatisfied. Job done!
For the female, to continue the analogy, there is a lot more foreplay involved. She wants to see exactly what she is getting. She reads the labels (every single word) and analyses the salt/fat/sugar/kcal information. She wants a good feel, a good rummage, a good poke. The whole process is altogether more drawn out. However, the end result is likely to be that she still didn’t get what she wanted but still emerged from the store with four carrier bags bursting at the seams. The male is happy that he decided to wait in the car, thus avoiding Option 3…
3. Shopping With The Partner
This is the slowest the male will ever have walked in his life! He finds himself in a hopeless situation in which he knows exactly what they came in for, if only she would let him take control of the trolley. But no. She wants to push the trolley and he is forced to tag along, like a sullen child, kicking his heels and sighing as she picks up items, reads the labels and replaces them on the shelves.
Pensioners are pushing past them! These are the same pensioners who insist on reminiscing in the middle of the aisles, blocking his rapid progress when he is employing Option 1. He has written to the supermarket on several occasions, suggesting that pensioners are assigned their own special shopping day, a day that could also be used for staff training, thus relieving all the frustrations of their more hasty customers! The supermarket is yet to reply.
It has been half an hour and they are still in the first aisle. His will to live is ebbing away. She notices his discomfort and sends him on a special errand: “Go and get sanitary towels. The night-time ones, with wings.” As if they won’t be passing them at some point in the distant future! His day is complete. What could possibly be worse?..
4. Shopping With The Partner AND The Kids
This is the ultimate shopping nightmare. You know very well that everyone in the store will be thinking the same thing: “Why didn’t you get a babysitter and leave the noisy little fuckers at home?” You are thinking it too. Things get worse when your youngest sits on the floor in the biscuit aisle and starts yapping like a dog. Your oldest, taking full advantage of the distraction, wanders off after a younger, better-looking couple whose trolley is loaded with far nicer grub than yours. It is, of course, your fault. You aren’t pushing the trolley so you have no job other than watching the kids. You then have to answer the store announcer’s call to pick up your child from the Customer Services Desk, where you find him with one finger buried to the third knuckle up his left nostril.
Packets of biscuits are opened in the car on the way home in an attempt to keep the kids quiet because your head is likely to explode. You know you’ll be hoovering the back seat the next day but the silence is worth it!
Finally home, the first two bottles of beer do not make it past the fridge door.