Thursday, 12 March 2009

Supermarket Hell (2)

Today I'm going to post a very old post. This is for several reasons. 1) It was written before I knew all you lovely bloggers and therefore I thought I'd hand it to you now. 2) I've seen a number of re-posts over the last few days, all of which I've loved and I have appreciated them being re-posted. 3) The reference to the lift ties in wonderfully with Vodka Mom's recent posts.

If you are a purist who sees re-posting as a sinister evil, an affront to common decency and a painful reminded of how lazy and self-indulgent other bloggers are then why don't you just go and have a cold shower...


Going to the supermarket is always a mistake. This time I was forced into it. I had to pick up some medicine, and Tesco's pharmacy was the only one open on a Sunday. I never expected it to be a pleasant experience, but my mistake was to expect it to be a manageable trip. I made other mistakes too, like thinking that I would remain calm, rather than stomping around like a furious Larry David.

I make that mistake every single time, somehow convincing myself that it won't be THAT bad. That I will "manage" the trip by drawing on my limitless patience with the human race. I do have limitless patience with the human race - you do know that, right? If I know in advance that the supermarket will be most peoples' idea of Hell on a bad hair day, then I can prepare myself. Right?

That little voice at the back of my consciousness was whispering its usual lies. No-one will be there midday on a Sunday, it said. They'll be home preparing for lunch, it said. It'll be easy to find a parking space, it said. There'll be no queue at the pharmacy, it said. There'll be no kids running round screaming, racing trolleys and knocking old ladies over while their parents do nothing, it said. The "basket only" queue will be under five people long and moving quickly, it said. You'll even enjoy the outing, it said.

I'm going to have to kick that little voice right where it hurts.

If I had known it was Incompetents' Day Out in the car park I would would not have gone. I would have spent hours driving around to find another pharmacy, or even resorted to brewing the drugs myself on our balcony.

There were the usual klutzes driving the wrong way round the car park in order to nab spaces. There were entire extended families capering about on the through ways. There were small yappy dogs scrapping, biting and molesting shoppers. All that was missing from the chaos was a troop of pre-schoolers playing Frère Jacques on tin whistles.

I had been presented with no choice, so I just went to Tesco. But the rest of the universe (and beyond) had chosen to go to Tesco right then. Why? mean seriously, why oh why head down Tesco at lunchtime on a Sunday?

The place was packed with the usual suspects. Grannies spilling change, small children running riot, and (I kid you not) elephantine families wheeling round fleets of overloaded shopping trolleys full of Fanta and biscuits. Not that that is wrong, I hasten to add before a brigade of Guardian readers and Liberal Democrats come beating down my door, lambasting me for thought crimes and for being inconsiderate. But it is funny.

Seriously, those Fanta kids must be so WIRED. You can imagine them coming down the stairs at night, a 2-litre bottle of Fanta in one hand, a packet of biscuits in the other, eyes as wide as Texas, half-crazed on a sugar high. "Mummy, Daddy, I can't sleep and I've got a splitting headache."

Of the one million under-fives present at Tesco, fifty percent were wearing Heelys. In case you've been blessed with blissful ignorance (in which case I envy you), Heelys are those trainers that are equipped with wheels in the heel. Heelys are the worst thing man has ever created. Just when we thought our race had run out of dumb, dangerous and despicable things to event some idiot created the Heely.

To be fair on him or her, it was a genius money-making move. I should have bought shares. However they have a lot to answer for. They deserve to be strapped to a giant Heely and rolled slowly down Oxford Street on Christmas Eve, pelted with tomatoes by the angry masses, to the joyful sound of Frère Jacques played on tin whistles by a troop of pre-schoolers. This the same fate deserved by the 70s city planners. And no, this isn't my soapbox. I've lost my soapbox.

There is nothing worse than a busy supermarket seething with little kids screaming round on Heelys. Actually, an episode of chronic diarrhea in a crowded, broken-down lift would be worse, but I won't dwell on that...

...for long, but there was that time when I was watching daytime TV with my good friend Ray. An advert came on from an anti-constipation drug. A sexy smiling blond was sitting on the arm of a leather sofa, short skirt, high heels and grinning inanely. "The last thing you want on a busy day is to be constipated," she said, smiling ecstatically, crossing and re-crossing her legs (why the advertisers thought that anti-constipation drugs should be sexed-up beats me).

Ray turned to me. "No Jon," he said. "The last thing YOU want on a busy day is to be hit by a sudden bout of explosive chronic diarrhea, while stuck in a crowded lift and surrounded by small yapping dogs and small children blowing tin whistles."

Pause for thought. Did the parents simply say, "What a great idea, why don't you wear your Heelys to the supermarket", or did they get the idea from "How To Turn a Supermarket into a Hellhole in Five Easy Steps"?

Entering the supermarket my expression of weary anticipation was transformed into the sorrowful expression of a child that was expecting socks for Christmas and received a lump of earwax instead. The noise was terrifying. The aural equivalent of having your ear drum cleaned with an electric toothbrush to Slip Knot played backwards through a tinny mobile phone speaker. It was Hell.

As I narrowly avoided death-by-healy for the seventh time I decided the safest route to the pharmacy was through the clothes section. Biggest mistake I ever made. The clothes section was filled with a desultory group of shoppers with trolleys piled high, crashing into each other like a fleet of supertankers stuck in a duck pond. Displaying my limitless patience, and demonstrating our race's incredible capacity for survival, I stumbled my way through to the pharmacy. I heard one supertanker collide with another one behind me.

The queue at the pharmacy was, of course, monstrous. The pharmacy was, of course, manned by a single Trainee. Writhing like a Chinese New Year procession and full of the usual queue-jumpers, the queue was as bad as the one at the Ukrainian embassy. But that's another story. In case you're wondering, the word "queue" in Ukrainian translates roughly to "fight".

In the grand scheme of things, a busy supermarket on a Sunday lunchtime is as close to Hell on earth as you can possibly get.

But the day wasn't all bad. On the way home I saw a car flashed by a speed camera. That made my day. The sucker. As ol' Clint would say (note the politically correct "people" that I've sensitively substituted here), there are two kinds of people in this world. Those that see speed cameras as yet another tax tool, and those that relish them as vengeance on the wicked. I'm a stickler for rules and fall in the latter camp.

A stickler for rules with the exception for Digital Rights Management (DRM). Are you telling me that I can legally purchase music from amazingtunes or itunes and "can't" play them on my Squeezebox or mp3 player? Jeeze. I can and I will.

Dagnammit, I think I've found my soapbox.


Sass said...

As you know, I'm a fan of the re-post.

I'm also a fan of soap boxes.

I'm not a fan of pharmacies on a Sunday.

Or diarrhea in an elevator.

Call Me Cate said...

I am NOT any kind of purist. I enjoyed this very much so I'm glad you re-posted it.

I always wonder how I can "accidentally" trip up those kids in heelys. They make me angry. And their parents make me even angrier.

Cowguy said...

Fear has a lot of different smells.

Sass said...

Because I am an egomaniac who loves seeing my name on the Most Faithful Peeps list, I'm commenting again.

I forgot to add that most stores in my area have signs on the doors that specifically state, "No Heelys allowed."

And I love the word verification for this comment.

Yamaroni. That may be a new curse word for me.

Soda and Candy said...

Our supermarket is always busy on Sundays because everyone goes after church. On the plus side it's kind of great to see everyone in their fancy Sunday best church clothes. On the negative side, I always feel like I'm going to be in the queue til Jesus comes.

Stacie said...

your writing is fantastic, I applaud you in your repost!

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

I'm a fan of the repost, especially since I only found your blog awhile ago. BTW I love Larry David.

I have something for you at my blog....

Kylie w Warszawie said...

Mwahahahahaha! Ukrainian fight! Mwahahahahaha! Queue means the exact same thing on Polish!

And there were OH SO MANY other things about this post, but I haven't time to comment on all of them - damn kids. Wanting food and all.

Kat said...

How am I just now finding you? I can tell you right now Tesco on a Sunday is my absolute worst nightmare.

Nej said...

I'm not seeing the Heelys as much as I used to. Waiting to see if it's wishful thinking (maybe the trend if over?) or just because old man winter scared them away.

OK, I'll admit it.....I secretly wish I was young enough to wear them and get away with it.

Anonymous said...

Having a bout of explosive diarrhea while standing in the line for the pharmacy might get you moved up to the front of the line. Especially if you say you aren't leaving without your medications!

Snarky A. said...

Loved the re-post!

Don't love the pharmacy on any day at all.

Hate the diarrhea in an elevator nightmare. Hate.

Don't even get me started with the DRM!

chris hale said...

Hi Mo.

You very kindly visited me earlier today, so I thought I'd return the compliment.

Have just read this post...dear heaven, you sound just like me! Don't you just love those trolleys that attempt to describe a left hand circle when you let go of them. It'd be easier to land a Lancaster on one engine with half it's rudder shot away whilst avoiding heavy flak.

Sorry, I'm rambling...

Diane said...

I've never had diarrhea in an elevator, nor had I thought about it... until now. But I can safely say, I want it even less than a Sunday visit to Tesco (or, in my case, WalMart... aka Redneck Heaven).

And now I'm off for a shower. It has nothing to do with your re-post, mind you (I thoroughly enjoyed it)... I just really need a shower.

Anna Russell said...

This really made me laugh, especially the Frere Jaques bit - I can just picture it.
I too hate supermarkets.

Vodka Mom said...

who ever has NEVER reposted, raise your hand. Oh, no hands?

enough said. And WELL worth it!!!!!

Skye said...

Oh, now that is funny! I try to only shop on Monday's if at all humanly possible. They're the only day of the week I've found, where the stores aren't overcrowded with screaming, whining kids on wheelies that are part of some elaphantine sized family.

I do love this post, thank you so much for re-posting it!

My confirm word is "Pickee", do you think it's trying to tell me something?

Minka said...

I have just nominated you to receive the “When Life Gives You Lemons” blog award. Come by and claim it...

Selaen said...

erm.. I've got a great solution for the "people in my way annoying me when I'm shopping"-issue...

I kick them.

Not like a full-on donkey-kong in the face, but a nice sharp jab in the heel will be enough to MOVE THEM OUTTA MY WAY! Especially if they're wearing Heelys... There's a lovely spin to the moving-process.. :)

Luv Luv


Tristan Robin Blakeman said...

I"m so glad this was re-posted because I have only just discovered you, so would probably have missed it forever.

That would have been a terrible shame, as it set me to chuckling and head shaking and general smiles-all-round...which is quite the accomplished feat for a Saturday morning!

Thanks for posting on my blog so I could find you here!

Mama Dawg said...

That would have totally been a great scene in a tv show.

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