Clutching the list provided by my mother, I leapt in the car and navigated my way to Safeway, about 10 minutes or so away. This was difficult enough in itself, what with idiots being unable to indicate correctly and others who decide to slam on their brakes at the last minute, deciding in the last second that yes they do want to turn, and further idiots who decide that the speed limits don’t apply to them and so insist on driving in my boot (Don’t they know that if I get six points on my licence I have to appear before the GMC? Neither did I until recently, but that’s by-the-by. Why do these numbskulls insist on complaining to the Daily Mail when a speed camera catches them breaking the law and they get fined? The equation is simple: You EXCEED the LIMIT – yes, it’s a LIMIT – and you get a FINE. Don’t complain about the speed cameras, if you want less of them about STOP SPEEDING and they’ll soon stop erecting them because they’ll have no fines to fund them. Anyway, back to the point…)
I eventually arrive just about in one piece at Safeway, and decide to choose a parking space. I select one, and drive into it. I can’t drive into it fully, thanks to Safeway’s idea of putting trees inside rhomboidal paving areas in the middle of four adjoining spaces (I’m sure they do this just to laugh when you forget it’s there and hence think you can drive through the space in front to get out – and inevitably, you hit the kerb). Some fool then decides to pull into the space next to me – ney, he pulls half into MY space, almost preventing me from being able to get OUT of my car. Nevertheless, I soldier on.
I enter the store and select a trolley. I would complain that it had a wonky wheel, but it didn’t. It was however very wet, having been out in the rain. Why the trolley collectors are incapable of putting the dry trolleys in one column, and then placing the wet ones in another column, I’ll never know. I always used to at Homebase. Instead, they trap the only dry trolleys behind a fleet of dripping trolleys, forcing you to push a freezing, soaking metal basket around the shop.
And the first section one finds in the shop? Fruit. Why, oh why do supermarkets always have fruit near the door? It inevitably ends up at the bottom of the trolley bashed in. And it doesn’t make me want to buy more, or anything like that. It’s just another daily annoyance.
Then you try and navigate the aisles. This is made difficult by the very idea of shopping. People park their trolleys (why isn’t it trollies?) at the edges of the aisles. Once you’ve got two trolleys parked opposite each other, the aisles are simply not wide enough to get another through the middle. This fills me with trolley rage.
The first item on the list is “Benecol Yoghurt”. So I proceed with earnest to the Dairy Aisle. Yoghurt being a dairy product, this doesn’t seem an unreasonable assumption. And I was right. I was presented with a myriad of yoghurts. These were not shelved logically, for example “Plain Yoghurts” and “Fruit Yoghurts”, instead I’m forced to decide whether Benecol is an “Everyday Yoghurt”, an “Adult Yoghurt”, a “Children’s Yoghurt”, or a “Dessert Yoghurt”. I walk down this aisle five times, scanning all of the products looking for the mystical “Benecol”. I then admit defeat and ask for assistance. I am directed to “Yoghurt Drinks. When I question this logic, I’m told “It’s there because Benecol also do a Yoghurt Drink, and the Yoghurts are next to that”. I sigh, and proceed as directed, to discover that they’ve sold out of the yoghurt in question.
Item two: “One loaf of Hovis Best of Both”. I walk to the bread section, singing this to myself (I really have started talking to myself an awful lot recently, is this a sign of insanity?). I discover that there is a whole aisle dedicated to loaves of bread. Why? What can possibly be the difference between all these different types of sliced bread? Can anybody actually tell the difference between Safeway Long Life Sliced White and Warburtons White Sliced Toaster Bread? I mean, for ****’s sake, what is the difference between bread and toaster bread? It surely can’t be long before I find that spreads come with a list of “compatible breads”, or something similar. I eventually locate the Best of Both, a ridiculously overpriced product that probably has no health benefits compared to Value Sliced White, under a large sign shouting “NO BITS!”.
Even buying milk is becoming more complex, with the choices of Skimmed, Semi-skimmed, or Full cream now extended to Organic and Breakfast Milk too. WTF is Breakfast Milk? Do they feed the cows Special K or something?
I also discovered that Ainsley Harriot has brought out his own line of teabags. Why? I have no idea. I’m I the only person in the country that doesn’t associate Ainsley Harriot with teabags?
I eventually make my way to the checkout, being careful not to select one marked “Baskets Only” or “9 items or fewer” (at least they get their signs right), and load my shopping onto the conveyer belt. The assistant then decides she’ll have a lengthy conversation with another member of staff about the fact she’s only got five minutes left and she’s going out to get hammered tonight. Eventually, she decides to serve me, if I can call it that, by scanning my products and throwing them at me as I try and pack them into plastic bags. She tries to strike up conversation, saying “Oh, do you like Best of Both? Doesn’t it taste funny?”. It’s all I can do not to respond sarcastically, saying that I hate it. I just smile and say yes. The transaction is completed, and I’m handed a receipt which must have taken half the Brazillian rainforests to produce, what with its Petrol Payback voucher and other extraneous bits and bobs.
I then push my trolley to the car, and load my stuff into the boot. I then walk half way home trying to find a trolley park to dump my trolley, before hopping in the car and trying to go home. Why trying? Because I sensibly follow the arrows to the Exit only to find that they don’t actually lead to the exit. I challenge anyone who lives in Southport to visit Safeway, and follow the exit arrows. You eventually come to one that point that opposite way to that you are driving. They do not make sense. So after a tour of the car park, I give up and just drive in the general direction of the exit.
I leave, kindly allowing someone out in front of me, and make my way home with a newfound hate, deeper than ever, for supermarket shopping. But then I go and check my brand spanking new sjhoward.co.uk Teapot Mail account and order is restored.
Originally posted on The LBSC