Regular readers will know that I despise all forms of shopping. However, there is a certain type of shopping that I hate more than any other. I am talking about the absolute essential pain in the arse that is the weekly grocery shop.
Mrs PM and I take it in turns to traipse around our local supermarket, hunting and gathering for food items, so for me at least this is a fortnightly chore that I have to endure.
Part of me wants to persuade Mrs PM to do all of the shopping but unfortunately there are several reasons that stop me from doing so.
Firstly, Mrs PM, who actually likes shopping generally, also hates dragging a trolley around a supermarket.
More importantly, however, Mrs PM is not very good when it comes to buying the things that I have added to the shopping list. Moreover, she makes unilateral decisions about certain items on the list that are contrary to my wishes.
For example, if I add to the shopping list something like “Mature English Cheddar Cheese”, she will sometimes decide that perhaps we ought to opt for a disgusting smelly French cheese instead. When she returns home from the shop, and I unpack the bag and find this repulsive substance, the conversation will go something like this:
PM: Where’s my Mature English Cheddar Cheese?
Mrs PM: I thought we could try Vieux Fromage Puant instead. It’s French and very potent.
PM: If I had wanted a stinky old runny French cheese that can render humans unconscious at fifteen paces then I would have written that on the shopping list. I wanted Mature English Cheddar Cheese. That’s why I wrote Mature English Cheddar Cheese on the list. I know you speak French but Vieux Fromage Puant does NOT mean Mature English Cheddar Cheese; it means Smelly Old Cheese and I bloody well hate it. As soon as we open that packet the entire house will stink of smelly six months old sweaty socks; the cats will pass out. I WILL PASS OUT! That’s why I put English Mature Cheddar Cheese on the bloody list.
Mrs PM: Well I like it and I’ll eat it.
PM: But I won’t. Why didn’t you buy English Mature Cheddar Cheese AND Vieux Fromage Puant? We would both be happy then.
Mrs PM: Well next time YOU do the shopping.
PM: I will – and perhaps I’ll make a unilateral WRONG decision about what you wrote on the bloody list.
Of course, I won’t do that – because I always buy EXACTLY what Mrs PM adds to the list. But sometimes the things she adds are too vague – and usually it involves women’s things.
I can cope with a vague description of shampoo and conditioner, for example, even though I get some really funny looks when examining lots of female shampoos and conditioners for the gazillion different types of hair that exist in the world.
I have to draw the line at women’s things now, though, ever since I have had to stand in front of the area selling these objects (and believe me there are hundreds of them), examining each packet or pack trying to decipher exactly what they are and whether they match Mrs PM’s vague description of them.
I am sure on one occasion that a shop assistant was considering calling the police because “some pervert was inspecting all the women’s things”.
Thankfully, Mrs PM now only buys such things when it is her turn to shop. I persuaded her by begging her not to add them to the list when it was my turn, lest I be arrested by the pervert squad.
And another thing Mrs PM does is forget things that we buy every week because she"doesn’t like them” or “doesn’t need them”. For example, I drink lots of grapefruit juice and you can bet your bottom dollar that when we are about to run out, she will forget to buy some. The reason? Because she doesn’t drink it.
But I tell you this; woe betide me if I forget to buy cat treats or cat biscuits.
Supermarkets themselves are awful places. I always go to the same supermarket because I have memorised the locations of everything we normally buy, my sole aim being to get around this fifth level of hell as quickly as possible.
Yet every time I think I have it down to a fine art, something will happen that makes the shopping trip to hell an even worse experience.
I hate Valentine’s Day and Hallowe’en and many other ridiculous days that force people to buy things through feelings of guilt. But the thing I hate most about them is that whenever they surface, the supermarket will transmogrify and suddenly I can’t find anything I want. I have to walk through aisles full of crap dedicated to whatever stupid day it is and discover that the little area dedicated, say, to whole foods has now been relocated to a dark and dingy corner of the supermarket where nobody dare go, thus resulting in my wandering around with a trolley full of melting frozen goods searching for a packet of flame raisins and adding about two hours to an already horrendous trip.
And other shoppers irritate me too.
You can guarantee that when I want to examine the contents of the dairy counter, there will be an army of people blocking my way with countless trolleys, thus adding yet more time.
Supermarkets also punish shoppers, I’m convinced of that. They put things on offer, like a breakfast cereal, to tempt you to buy it. You succumb, take it home and over the course of a few weeks, grow to love this tasty breakfast product. And then, without warning, the manager of the store, the dictator in charge of what is sold and not sold, will decide that the cereal will no longer be sold in the shop.
What an arse!
How DARE he tempt me and then take away something I like when he decides I’ve had enough.
There are many other things that irritate me about the weekly shop but I will finish by discussing the checkout. Usually it is a good thing but it signals the end of yet another traumatic experience but this is one final humiliation. The checkout person has the ability to price check every item in your trolley at a speed far faster than your ability to cram them into a bag. Some of them do it on purpose, I’m sure, and you are left crying as objects pile up in front of you as you are trying to make sure that the loaf of bread doesn’t end up at the bottom of a bag full of heavy items that will crush it. The remainder of the queue of shoppers behind stand there impatiently rolling their eyes and shaking their heads in disgust because you are holding them up.
They can’t wait to get out of the place either.
To be honest, I have been tempted to take advantage of online supermarket shopping, which means you can pick all of your food items from the comfort of your own home and wait for a nice man to bring it all to your door from his big lorry.
Except that is irritating too, because they suffer from the same problem as Mrs PM:
PM: Excuse me, Mr Grocery Delivery Man. Where is the English Mature Cheddar Cheese I ordered?
Grocery Delivery Man: We thought you would prefer Vieux Fromage Puant. It’s on offer. We’ll make sure you like it, and then in six weeks, just when you’re addicted to it, we will stop selling it. And all at NO EXTRA COST.
PM: Excuse me while I get my cricket bat …
How about you, dear reader; are you a lover of grocery shopping?
Or are you filled with dread at the thought of spending time traipsing round a supermarket?