Shop Till I Drop Dead

I’m going to take my time with today’s column. Not that I normally rush it or anything, I generally try and spend a bit of time on it. I know the drastically differing quality of each entry says otherwise but it’s true. I mean, I don’t slave over it or anything; it’s a column about my life, it’s not Moby Dick. I could hardly fill a book with my ramblings (unless you’re from a publisher, in which case I could easily fill a book with my ramblings. And I’d spend time on it. More than I do on this rubbish). All I’m saying is, today I will be spending more time than usual on my column and that’s because once it’s finished I have to go do the food shopping.

I absolutely hate doing the food shop. From the frantic search for a pound in order to obtain a trolley – usually resulting in you having to break into a twenty pound note, spending the rest of the trip with the change jangling around, like a metallic free-form jazz band in your pocket – to the mind-numbing series of obstacles, as you try weave around people that aren’t licensed to operate a body, or the ones who stop suddenly, their feet bolted to the floor. It’s like trying to play chess with zombies.

There is nothing in this world more stressful than having to brave Morrison’s and restock the house. They say members of a bomb-disposal squad have a stressful job, and granted, it is a bit hairy, but I’d much rather have to choose between cutting the red or blue wire, than attempting to stock up on Andrex Ultra and pre-cooked chickens. You see, in a worst case scenario, if you cut the wrong wire, you blow up. OK, that’s pretty bad, I’ll give you that, but at least you’re not around to deal with the cleaning. If you make one wrong move while shopping you could be stood, screaming at the self-service checkouts for forty five minutes. Being blown up is quick and instant – nothing compared to the tedious ritual of having to work out just how forcefully you should place a box of Rice Krispies down, so that the stupid machine knows they’re in the bagging area.

And that’s another thing; why call it a bagging ‘area’? To me, that suggests the process can be broken down into stages, like some sort of production line. If that were the case then I’d bring a team of people with my every time I bought fabric softener. Instead you frantically try to scan one item, while bagging another, hoping that you somehow manage to avoid the ‘unidentified item’ klaxon that sounds out at inopportune moments, like a car alarm of shame. You then have to try and convince the shop assistant you weren’t actually trying to steal that pack of ham. If the shop’s quiet, you can take your time, but if it’s busy and you’ve got a queue forming then suddenly the simplest task becomes as intricate as key hole surgery, and believe me; given the choice I know what I’d chose.* Suddenly there’s increased pressure when you can feel someone else’s eyes burning into the back of your head, while you look for your Club Card. And they’re only carrying a deep-filled sandwich and a bottle of water, making you feel like an idiot for trying to scan in your new 48” TV.

I know I could just shop online and get it delivered but it all feels a bit too grand for me. There’s something very unsettling about ordering someone to bring you food. I’m not comfortable with the chain of hierarchy. I ordered online once, but then I was so struck with guilt, I immediately emailed back and apologised for being so presumptuous and offered to come pick it up. In the end I must have delivered to at least twelve other houses on my street. It took three trips. So, I am stuck in an endless cycle of having to go do the food shopping, myself.

Still, who knows, maybe my book will get picked up by publishers. Then, at least I’ll be able to eat out every night.

*Probably not the surgery, actually.

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