I think the term ?necessary evil? was coined especially for supermarkets, because unless you?re one of those 4×4 smuggies who frequent farm shops or are content to live off Pot Noodles from the corner shop, it?s the place most of us get our food supplies from.
On your arrival at one of these emporiums, don?t make the mistake of thinking that just because you?ve successfully negotiated the labyrinthine car park and competed at Olympic standard for a parking space, that your troubles are over. Oh no, the next hurdle will be choosing a shopping trolley that actually works. I usually manage to pick the Buckaroo of the bunch and spend the next hour inflicting more injuries than a traffic pile-up. Even if I try and keep it simple by using a basket, I?ll always get the one with the razor sharp wire handle that leaves my arm looking like it?s survived a shark attack.
One of the most annoying things is that just when you?ve got a mind-map of where everything is they change the layout of the store and you have a breakdown just trying to locate a bag of sugar. Don?t bother asking any of the staff where anything is. You?ll be lucky if they can recall their own name. I always manage to engage the winner of ?Most Useless Employee of the Month?. After repeating my question a minimum of three times, all I get is a glassy-eyed stare and a pathetic shrug, before they shuffle off to look moronic elsewhere. Obviously, the fact that they work there is no guarantee that they?ll actually know anything, so never get your hopes up. Even worse are the aggressive types who take it as a personal insult that you should interrupt their dawdling for any reason. It?s not worth the risk. Within 10 seconds you?ll realise they want to haul you off to the back of the car park and impress you with their knife skills.
What really makes me seethe with volcanic anger are the people who insist on dragging their incredibly spoilt children shopping with them. Everyone else in the store will then be subjected to their head-splitting screams because their parent won?t give them whatever it is they want. So, here?s my tip to those parents. Your little brat has the lung capacity of a pearl diver and a screech that could bring on an aneurysm. So just stuff a fistful of Percy Pigs in their over-indulged little mouths and give the rest of us a break. I often think that Gimp Masks for toddlers is an area ripe for exploitation (one attached to every trolley perhaps?) How I long for those halcyon days when parents could cheerfully slap their screamer without fear of retribution or censure from social services.
I?ve also noticed that men tend to treat the fruit and veg section as some kind of erogenous zone. Take a look around the next time you?re there and you will see a variety of men stealthily groping their way around mounds of soft fruits. Anyone who has witnessed the glazed eyes and intense concentration of a man as he gingerly prods a luscious melon or sniffs and nuzzles a ripe tomato will know what I mean.
Of course the one time there?s a BOGOF offer that I?m actually interested in, there will only be one of said item left forlornly on the shelf. You?d think that whoever stocks the bloody shelves would do it in even numbers, but no. Why miss this golden opportunity to aggravate the customers? Ask one of the ?Here to Help? staff to check if they have any more and they will scurry off towards the storeroom. You will never see that person again. And if there is a food item that you love, you better stock up on it now because the next time you visit they?ll have stopped selling it.
I also hate it when they insist on a member of staff packing your foodstuffs for you, and you have to stand there dumbstruck while they cheerfully chuck a 5kg bag of potatoes on top of a dozen eggs. Unfortunately, I always seem to be next in line to someone who moves so slowly they seem to be in suspended animation. This is always the type of annoying idiot who then takes a phone call while the rest of us are wondering if we have anything lethal enough in our trolley to start clubbing them with.
As usual only 3 of the 10 tills will be operating, because the other till operators are gathered around the baked beans earnestly discussing the most aesthetically pleasing way to display the cans. It?s no coincidence that supermarkets tend to employ people suffering from OCD as shelf-stackers. Don?t mess with them. It can only end badly – for you.
Just when I?m congratulating myself for having picked a till with a conveyor belt that works, and have offloaded all my goods onto it, there will be a change of till operator. I now have a 12 year old boy who can?t sell me alcohol without his social worker being present. There then ensues another lengthy wait while we try and find a so-called adult to supervise this event… aaargh! Thank God for wine bottles with screw caps….