OK, so it’s an extremely hot midday (this time last week it was 16°C so I’m having trouble suddenly adapting to a temp that is 12° warmer) and I’ve just come back from the dreaded supermarket. I tossed up whether to do the farm shop – it’s in a tin shed, obviously with no air conditioning, so scratch that. Marks & Spencer? Close, has air con…but no stuff like cheap washing powder, on which we’re literally currently scraping the bottom of the barrel plastic tub. So scratch that. Sadly no choice – the big supermarket it is.
So here’s how it goes and here’s why it’s always listed as my third shopping option:
I get there by about 10.15 but make the mistake of not having a specific list. I know what’s for dinner tonight – Waldorf Salad – so I need more mayo, an apple, celery, walnuts and green salad. All check, so I potter off to get washing powder, toilet paper etc.
Get to the far end and I’m amongst the toiletries, finding that there has been a sudden ‘run’ on eye make-up remover, Pearl Drops tooth polish and hair colourants when I realise that I don’t in fact have an apple, the walnuts, or even the mayo. So back I go, covering, I’m sure, several hundred yards (at least I’m getting in my exercise today) when I come across the Ditzy Mothers Brigade.
There are two today, in quick succession – they have abandoned their trolleys, slewed carelessly across the middle of the aisles, stopping anyone from walking by, whilst they drift off somewhere else to feel up the fruit, or something.
And here’s another who wants everyone in the veggie section to look at her and her adorable offspring. I know this because she’s having an EXTREMELY LOUD conversation with her little boy (who isn’t listening at all because he’s way too busy running all over the place like he’s O.D. on speed). She’s putting on the Mother Earth act with her little Tasmanian Devil until – Woops! He very nearly topples that frail old lady (saved only by another slewed trolley). Mother Earth, with a face as black as thunder, suddenly yells:
‘D’you want to sit in the car?! Cos that’s where you’re headed!’
Apple in trolley.
I head away to the walnuts but what on earth is that sound? Someone’s screaming and yelling at the top of their lungs – a weird guttural sound. It’s persistent and grows louder – seems to be headed my way.
Walnuts in trolley. Time to pack up and go I think.
At the check-out and the shouting becomes louder and louder. I now recognise it from the last time I was here. That time he and his mother were at the till next to me too. Now what are the chances of that happening two times in a row do you think?
I’ve never heard an adult, let alone a child, make such a noise. And so loud. My head starts to throb.
All eyes are turned, staring inappropriately in his direction.
She’s trying to engage him in helping in the business of putting the stuff on the conveyor belt but every time she speaks it seems to elicit another shout. I think she should just get on with it as best she can because her words don’t seem to help matters. [Shout, grunt, shout] …the sounds carry right across the whole store and as I can’t stand loud noises nowadays, and I’m standing less than 10 feet away from him, I flinch every time it happens.
Packing, packing, packing as the groceries are thrown my way…and what the hell is all this liquid all over my packages? I smell my hand – no smell, so it clearly isn’t something ‘wholesome’ like the fabric conditioner. I hope it isn’t blood from those pork medallions – but I’m sure I kept them flat in the trolley all the time. [Scream / grunt / shout].
The mother continues to try to engage his attention. The more she tries, the louder his cries.
Hold on, what’s this woman behind me doing? Yes, I thought so! She’s sidling forward through the check out and now standing in front of the direct debit payment thing. There isn’t the room for two people standing side by side in this checkout ‘funnel’ – how am I going to get to the payment gadget? [Yell / shout / scream].
Oh stuff it, I’m just pushing her. Why be polite? I’m not the one oozing into another person’s personal body space and in front of the payment widget.
Dear God, I’m hot. [Shout / shout / shout – AS LOUD AS YOU CAN – shout].
And now I’m so stressed that my mind is entirely blank. Checkout girl is asking for the money as she idly wipes a small pool of [whatever] liquid from the conveyor belt but I’ve completely forgotten my Pin number. Oh I don’t mean ‘is it a 61 or 16? – I mean I’ve completely forgotten it. Nothing. Nada. Blank.
And good grief if this woman behind me doesn’t stop pushing forward I’m going to scream! And the fractious child is now climbing up onto the checkout and I’m sure he’s going to fall and hurt himself.
[Shout / shout / shout…now with Added! Banging! Sounds]! I can’t think straight. I have to get out of here. What’s the Pin?! Just take a wild guess – maybe it’s in there somewhere. That wasn’t it. Hang on, I think I’ve got it.
…And I’m out.
Except that the woman with the shouting child is now walking beside me to the car park.
Thankfully it’s not so bad now that we’re out in the open air.
‘Shut up!’ she suddenly screams at the boy. ‘Shut up! Stop that shouting!’
And he stops. Just like that.
I continue to walk to my car.
‘You look like you need a nice cool shower’ says the woman in the smart white suit as she passes me by.
Yes. I do actually. That and a long sit down, in the quiet, on my own, with a nice cup of tea.
Image from iStock photo