While the modern shopping experience ranks low on my list of existential anxieties, it nonetheless merits mention as one of life’s minor annoyances.
A visit to discount supermarket Lidl today reminded me how glad I am to have a wife who appears only too willing (and indeed able) to cope with such an ordeal.
Was it the fact I could not find a one pound coin for the shopping trolley which put me off balance?
Possibly, and the alternative was a sort of rubber bumper car affair which apparently didn’t require renting. It was free it seemed.
But my troubles had begun long before that. I’m on my own in the country and things were getting desperate or I would never have been stupid enough to venture out to the shops. The cupboard was bare and help was far off – the capable part of this marriage doesn’t arrive until Friday.
I might have managed if I had gone “down Deal” and visited a more traditional grocer, baker and dairy. But (equally scary) I had to visit B&Q at an out of town business park in a windswept corner of the county, perching by a motorway somewhere near Dover.
B&Q was scary enough. But it had staff! Yes, real people I could talk to, communicate with, pass the time of day. A jolly little soul kindly pointed me to the bubblewrap counter which had eluded me for half an hour and all was well. So only half an hour wasted so far.
The trouble started when I headed for Tesco and bumped into a road closed sign. With some relief I patted myself on the back and headed into somewhere called Lidl. I was vaguely aware of having been dragged round a Lidl in southern Spain. Anyway, I’m sure I would have found Tescos equally distressing.
All seemed to be going vaguely well until I wanted long life milk. I even managed to weigh out some loose tomatoes, not a task I manage with any degree of fluidity at the best of times.
Anyway, I dragged the rubber bumper car endlessly round the aisles looking for milk. None to be found and no-one to help. Apparently having no staff keeps costs down and food prices low. All well and good for a gladiator like my wife. My god can she wheel a shopping trolley!
The task was beyond me. They may have had the item, perhaps not. I shall never know. I shall never willingly return to the scene of my humiliation.
As usual my distress increased when yet again I failed to manage the automated checkout. Alarm bells rang and from somewhere deep in the bowels of the ship an employee appeared and rescued me. Never have I managed, not once, not in any shop, an automated checkout. Some things in life just elude me.
Having scaled what I took to be the penultimate peek I sheepishly trundled off with the rubber bumper car shopping trolley thingy. I was almost there. The humiliating and deeply perplexing experience was about to end.
Little did I know the rubber bumper car trolley thing wasn’t allowed in the car-park. Wasn’t allowed outside the shop. Well why would I know?
Shamefaced, I waited for a shifty lad to appear from some underground cavern and explain to me my unwitting error.
A shopping trip which would have taken a seasoned pro like my wife half an hour took me over two.
Apparently there are clinics which can help people like me.
Sounds like one of my very infrequent forays into auto parts stores, crossed with the toy department at Zentrum in the walled-Berlin days. My deepest sympathies!