Supermarket shopping – those two little words will either have you rolling your eyes or rubbing your hands with glee.
Depending on whether or not I'm with the kids, I have mixed emotions when it comes to the weekly shop. I used to do mine at 11pm at night at the 24-hour Tesco when the kids were little and tucked up fast asleep in bed – that's how much I hated going shopping with them. And there are plenty more things I loathe about supermarket shopping.
You might be wondering why I'm bothering to put this post together, especially when, with a few clicks of a mouse, I could avoid the hassle of supermarket shopping by opting for online shopping in my PJs, cuppa in hand.
But considering the highlight of my week is getting out of the house to do a food shop (anyone else have a sad social life?), I've resigned myself to putting up with these minor irritations.
But that doesn't stop me from wanting to write about them (and I just know this will be soooo cathartic), so here goes…
1. The purse fumbler
You've unloaded your shopping on the conveyer belt and you're waiting for your turn to be served. And while you stand there in your own little world, what do you do?
If you're thinking ‘Nothing – I just stand there and wait to be served', then shame on you!
You purse fumblers should surely know what's coming next: The cashier will scan your items, you'll pack them into your bags and then…guess what? THEY ASK YOU FOR MONEY! Yes, you have to pay for your shopping these days – who knew?!
So….given that most of us pay with a debit or credit card, here's an idea for you:
WHY NOT GET YOUR PAYMENT CARD OUT SO IT'S READY TO GIVE THE CASHIER WHEN HE/SHE ASKS FOR IT?
That's right people; you really don't have to wait for the cashier to state how much you owe before you fumble around in your bag for your purse/wallet, followed by more fumbling in purses/wallets for cards or money. You can do this WHILE STANDING THERE DOING NOTHING IN THE FIRST PLACE! And breathe.
2. Is anybody there?
I've been tasked with finding some ingredient that I can't even pronounce, let alone know what it's used for. It's for my son's home economics work and he needs it tomorrow.
Yes, the little blighter has decided to give me this news at 6pm on a Tuesday night. And so, already feeling annoyed that I've been landed with another task on my ‘to-do' list, I begrudgingly head to the supermarket.
And I search the aisles – and I search them again. And then I give up and decide to ask someone, which is probably what I should have done in the first place.
But….WHY ARE NO STAFF TO BE FOUND WHEN YOU NEED THEM THE MOST?
It's like they've all decided to play a cruel joke on me and are stood hiding behind one of the supermarket pillars, laughing at me whilst I look for them.
With not one uniform in sight, I decide to start looking for some intelligent-looking person to see if (a) they've heard of the ingredient and know what it is and (b) Where I'm likely to find it.
And when I finally think I've found someone to ask, they tell me they haven't the foggiest either. And then I start wishing that I had chosen a posh supermarket like Marks & Sparks or Waitrose as I'm pretty sure the people who shop in those places would be buying what I'm looking for on a regular basis.
I silently curse my son for putting me in this predicament and I return home empty-handed and more wound up than ever.
3. Is that all you've got?
I can occasionally be found frequenting the aisles of Lidl at the weekend. If you've ever shopped in Lidl you can probably hazard a guess as to what I'll say about it.
Yes, they do great products and yes, the prices are very attractive, but be warned: you have a really long wait at the checkouts to get served.
The supermarket always seems busy – and unfortunately no one thinks to tell the manager that it might be a good idea to put a third cashier on the tills when there are ten people waiting in each of the queues already.
But I've learnt my lesson on this. You either go to Lidl as soon as the doors open so that you're first in, first out, or you simply shop when you've got more time on your hands.
But what I really loathe about supermarket shopping is when you've bought just a couple of items and the person in front of you (who is still unloading their trolley) clearly sees you and the TWO items you want to buy AND THEN TURNS AROUND TO CARRY ON UNLOADING THEIR SHOPPING. I mean, REALLY?
I'm a nice person. But I sometimes think that's my downfall, as I expect everyone else to be nice too. If I have a lot of shopping and the person behind me only has a couple of items I'll ALWAYS let them go ahead of me.
By the time they've paid and left, I'll probably still be unloading my trolley anyway, so it makes sense right?
I have been known (on more than one occasion) to ask the person in front if I can skip the queue when clearly it makes sense time-wise. To date, no one has ever said no, but I'm half dreading when they do as I'll probably get embroiled in some argument that will annoy me even more!
4. Oh my god, is that you?
This next situation has probably happened to most of us, but it's something I totally loathe about supermarket shopping as it's all about the preparation and thinking ahead – something that I'm usually good at doing.
Picture the scene: you woke up late, grab the first clothes you can find off the floor to put on, scrape your hair back, run downstairs, start sorting the kids out with breakfast, uniform, book bags etc – and then…when you finally put the kettle on to make yourself a cuppa, you discover there's no milk in the fridge.
And before you've even had the chance to have your morning wee, it's time for the school run. So you decide to go straight to the supermarket after the school run.
Bad, bad idea. You look like crap remember – and you know exactly what will happen….you'll BUMP INTO YOUR NEIGHBOUR/FRIEND FROM SCHOOL/COLLEAGUE/YOUR HUSBAND'S EX – OR WORST OF ALL – YOUR EX.
And while you stand there chatting away to them – and watching as their eyes take in every last inch of your flaky skin and dark circles under your eyes, you silently vow to yourself – NEVER AGAIN WILL I FORGET TO MOISTURISE AND PUT MY MAKEUP ON IN THE MORNING.
And then one day a few weeks later you're running around like a blue-arsed fly and you discover that you've run out of bread, so you make a mental note to grab some on the way back from the school run…
5. I can't reach!
The next problem I've got with supermarket shopping probably won't be shared by 99% of the population. You see, I appeared to have stopped growing around 10 years old and, at just 5'1″, everybody seems like a giant compared to me.
I hate being vertically challenged for three reasons (1) I'm at eye level with most people's armpits. On a crowded train, you can imagine the pleasant sights and smells I have to contend with. (2) I'm often overlooked – whether it's trying to get a bartender's attention or when someone's looking for me in a crowd and (3) I hate not being able to reach for things.
THE SUPERMARKETS DON'T CONSIDER PEOPLE UNDER 5'3″ WHO ARE TRYING TO REACH ITEMS ON THE TOP SHELF!
Just the other day, I fancied a packet of custard. It happened to be on the top shelf and it was quite far back on the shelf. I eyed it up, which is what I do when faced with this frequently occurring situation: do I make a jump for it and run the risk of giving myself a hernia? Or do I balance on the bottom shelf to give me those precious few inches?
Standing on a shelf once backfired when it broke and I ended up on my backside in aisle number 34 in Sainsbury's, praying that no one saw what happened.
I waited for the giggles but, on quickly looking around, discovered that I was alone in the aisle – clearly other people were not in the mood for buying custard that day. But I was so embarrassed that I had been ‘caught on camera', that I hot footed it out of there – minus the god damn custard.
Nowadays, if I can't reach it and I don't fancy climbing or jumping up to get something, I'll usually just succumb to asking another shopper for their help – and then try my best not to look pissed off as they offer me a sympathetic smile and joke about my lack of inches.
6. Over social shoppers
We're back at the checkout and another one of my supermarket loathes is when the little old lady in front of you (sorry, but it is mostly women who are guilty of this) decides to start telling the cashier about her cat who had been sick on her slippers that week.
The conversation morphs into another topic and before you know it, they're discussing their whole medical history – and that of their neighbours. Oh come on!
PLEASE DON'T STRIKE UP A CONVERSATION THAT YOU CAN'T END IN 10 SECONDS. SOME PEOPLE HAVE TO GET TO WORK/PICK THE KIDS UP/GET THE CAR TO THE GARAGE (delete as appropriate)
And yet I somehow always manage to pick the queue where little old Dorothy is looking for her daily verbal exchange.
Don't get me wrong; I'm well aware that a lot of elderly people are lonely and that a few minutes having a chat with the 16-year old cashier is the highlight of their day, but please be aware of other people who have a look on their face that reads ‘hurry the feck up!'
Maybe supermarkets should forget the separate basket/trolley checkouts and instead introduce checkouts for chatterboxes or those who just want to pay for their goods and get the hell out of there.
Yes, I probably won't be feeling this way when I'm retired – and I'll be striking up my own little conversations. But for now I'll just carry on being envious of people who have more time on their hands than I do.
7. Trolley Wars
Sticking with things I loathe about supermarket shopping at the checkouts, my next bugbear is what I've coined ‘the side trolley' – and it really narks me off.
It's when you get two aisles next to each other and two people simultaneously unloading their shopping from their trolley.
How do you unload yours? Do you turn your trolley 180-degrees to unload it from the end of the trolley? Are you tall enough to reach over the top of the trolley to grab your items or do you turn your trolley to the side to unload it?
SOME PEOPLE PUSH THEIR TROLLEYS RIGHT OUT ACROSS BOTH AISLES TO MAKE IT EASIER TO UNLOAD THEIR TROLLEY.
Please don't! Look around you – you're not the only person shopping in the supermarket today, so please don't act like you are.
Even for me, the half pint that I am, I still don't turn my trolley to the side blocking other people's paths just to make it easier to unload it. And if I can do it, albeit with difficulty, then so can you.
I would bet my life savings that the people who ‘side trolley' are the same people who, when turning right into a road, leave the back of their car sticking out, meaning that other cars can't get past. Absolutely oblivious they are.
Again – another invention needs to be happen here. Trolley designers – get your thinking caps on! A self-raising trolley base might solve this problem perhaps?
Well that about sums up the things I loathe about supermarket shopping the most. Of course there are plenty of others…
- Screaming kids with swearing parents
- Parking wars (cars in family/disabled spaces when they shouldn't be)
- People who take ages using the self-service checkouts (just go to the normal one if you can't work it out!)
- The cashier loading her till with more coins just as it's my turn to get served
- People who clearly haven't washed themselves in more than a month doing their shopping and absolutely reek
I could go on, but this blog post would never end!
So, wrapping up – which supermarket situation do you loathe the most? And if it's not on my list – then share the pain – what's the one thing on your list guaranteed to wind you up?
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