I cannot express how much I loathe shopping. Actually, it is not the shopping that I loathe: it is the other Shoppers and, possibly, the Shop Workers as well. Not all of them as that would be an exaggeration because I have never been to all shops to experience the delights of all other shoppers and their Shop Assistants. But it is enough to say that the experience of shopping is loathsome for someone who is as Crabbit as me.
The Supermarket, even worse the Hypermarket, is the common loathsome experience in my life. I sometimes sit in the car for about ten minutes before going in to psyche myself up to the impeding misery and torture that I am about to endure. Listening to the grating noises of shopping trolleys on asphalt really gets you into the spirit of it all and leaves finger imprints in the steering wheel.
Once I have decided that I cannot delay the inevitable any longer and make my move. Usually to find that someone has parked too close and now I cannot get out without moving the car again. More imprints in the steering wheel.
Eventually, I get out of the car. The Eagle has landed. One small step for Crabbit-kind, one giant grimace for anyone who gets in my way. Mind focused to carry out this exercise like a covet operation: in, get, pay, out.
The Opening Gambit: the Entrance. It never changes. A totally, worn out Automatic Door that slides back and forth like flem to a window. It acts like a breakwater to the steady flow of Mums, Dads, Kids, old folk, teenagers and Crabbit folk like me. This narrow portal is not only the focal point of everyone going in but also for those lucky people have done their shopping for them to make their escape back to their normal lives again. It is like swimming in treacle or the mighty Salmon jumping up the rapids to get its sporning grounds but without the sex, obviously.
I have even been known to say to myself, “Where’s Flatulence when you need it?”
After much fighting and pushing through, throwing women and children behind me, I make it into the foyer.
Tired and emotionally drained already, I try and get my bearings to take another step closer to ending this horrendous experience.
“Good morning, sir”
I look up and see the annoyingly smiling Shop-greeter. I really want to punch those teeth through to the bakery or at least, to Chilled Meats. Irritating to the extreme and obviously a “Morning Person”. How anyone can be cheery and bright in a situation where marauding shoppers bearing down on you from all angles is beyond me.
The typical “Greeter” person is a man in his early fifties, an overbite like a hungry hippo, a large nametag with “Malcolm” on it and dressed like a muppet or in the companies colours, which ever is more derogatory. One of those folk that make you wonder why murder rates aren’t higher.
Not wanting to prolong the “Greeting” experience, I usually grunt a faint “Morning” and stomp away. Then grunt again as I stomp back in the direction I should have been going before being accosted by “Mr. Eat-An-Apple-Through-A-Tennis-Racket”.
The Middlegame: getting the items, or, if you really unlucky, items, you want.
It never ceases to amaze how a shop changes in the time for you to use a pint of milk. You think that it would be straightforward to just go and to pick up an item in the same place that you got it the last torturous time (believe me, it is scarred into my brain where things are in a supermarket due to the trauma), but for some insane reason, the shop fairies get the urge to change the place about. It is no wonder why folk are aimlessly wandering about the place like…..well, aimless folk.
Mind you, they’re all aimlessly until the bargain box comes out. It is like watching stampeding cattle or a shiver of sharks getting about their prey after stalking it for a while. I don’t know how they know that the Bargain Box has come out but they know. There is no announcement but it is like the sound of distant thunder as the word sweeps through the place. It is a frenzy of activity and it is not pleasant if you are in the way of the oncoming mob. I don’t know how no one is injured or seriously maimed in the ensuing throng of arms and legs as they devour the box until it is a pitiful excuse for an empty shopping trolley. On one occasion, I saw the trolley still spinning around after the hordes had done with it.
Then the place goes back to Aimless Grove again. Filled with brainless zombies who stop without reason and tack without warning. If you dare to accidentally bump into them, they look at you as if it was all your doing. Then for some unknown, almost primal, instinct, you apologise! Why? Having said that I grew out of that a long time ago and now I simply grunt then shake my head at the stupidity that has graced my stare.
After a while of trying to get the item, or items, of shopping that you had gone into Dante’s Inferno for, you get to the point of giving up the will to live. All this for a pint of milk! It would have been less problem to go to a field to get it directly from a cow or even express it myself (ok, ok! Too far I know but I feel quite strongly about this shopping marlarky!)!
The Endgame: Checkout and getting out the car park.
So you have the item, or items, clutched to yourself with a Kung-fu grip and have managed to make the return arduous journey back through the brainless horde and now you are faced with the Checkout dilemma. Which queue do you get into? They’re all about three miles long and full of, well, people. It is a nightmare scenario: forced to stand and shuffle along with the rest of the place to eventually get the privilege of actually paying for it.
So you stand in line. I usually get into, what is loosely termed as, the “Express Checkout” queue. In huge writing over it, bears the words, “10 items or less” so you would have thought that the movement in this line would be more speedier.
There are filled with people who either cannot count, want to pay for their entire years shopping with the change they had collected over the past millennium, don’t know how to use a credit card machine, have a coupon for every item that they want to buy (even if they need it or not), have picked up the only items that have had the barcode ripped off them or they have died waiting. Me? I just gnaw at my leg to numb the pain of it all.
Eventually, like a glacial event I reach the checkout itself. You would have thought that this happening would be the most effortless part of the torture. Again, you would be wrong. With the dexterity of an acrobat, or like a soldier presenting arms with a rifle, the pint of milk is spun in all directions in the hope that the machine thing would go “beep”. When it doesn’t, the acne-ravaged teenager who is working the Till on the day looks at the barcode suspiciously and then accusingly at me. With life draining out of me fast now, I just give him my death stare. He then repeats the process and I wonder if my milk is now either butter or cheese due to the centrifugal forces being exerted on it. Eventually, a “beep” occurred. Maybe, I should have been elated, sung out with joy or gave a cheer but I couldn’t be arsed by that point. I simply handed over some money and left after answering numerous questions of loyalty cards and “bags for life” requests.
Nearly at the end of the ordeal now as I head for the exit where I still had to negotiate the most annoying Greeter being and the slow automatic door of death again.
“Goodbye, sir. See you again soon.”
“$%& off,” I grunted as I join in the stramash of epic proportions in my effort to get through the tide of bodies to reach the outside world once again. It wasn’t easy but after being nearly mortally wounded by an old woman’s umbrella and run over by an errant shopping trolley, I made it to freedom.
After I managed to squeeze back into my car, I sat the item (pint of milk) on the seat next to me and started the engine.
“Shite!” I shouted to myself, “I forgot Teabags!”
More finger imprints on the steering wheel and more swearage usually follows. Knowing with inevitable doom that the ordeal is not over but merely just an interlude. I sit there for about ten minutes, listening the grating noises of shopping trolleys on asphalt………………..
A typical shopping experience for the Crabbit at the Supermarket