An Irish woman's social, political and domestic commentary
Sunday, November 21, 2004  

Supermarket Shopping

What a depressing experience. On so many levels it's hard to know where to start. But let me begin with some human observation. As the heavily pregnant little lady struggles to manoeuvre her errant trolley through the crowds, the mobile and determined single shopper is morally required to make way. But agile and unburdened, they resent those of us who slow up the pace a little in the frantic chaos of Saturday morning grocery acquisition. They want to burst past the obstacle in their path but good manners and guilt prevents them from doing so. How can they resolve their desire to speed up and their knowledge that to do so would be quite rude? If they never actually saw the handicapped shopper, then they couldn't be reprimanded for forcing them to take evasive action, which when your pelvis is falling to bits and you got the wonkey trolley is an enormous physical effort. Therefore they concentrate very hard on NOT seeing you. They are striding to the end of the aisle in search of exotic coffee (far from which they were raised). Their focus is on the product, on completing the task, on getting to the gym, on feeling powerful and efficient. Lateral vision is for the weak. Acknowledgement of a fellow human for the old and the eccentric. Walk in a straight line. You do not exist. And they probably never even heard of Camus. Bastards.

Physical struggles aside, the combination of need, guilt, gullibility, cynicism, curiosity and exhaustion all collide when the decision to purchase a product must be made. The most insidious marketing comes from the baby food companies. As my DS [on mommies' message boards that's shorthand for darling son] has reached 12 months I rejoiced as I knew this meant the end of expensive formula and losing count on scoops. Cow's milk here we come! Bang on schedule, literally the same month, both Cow&Gate and Aptamil launch "Growing Up Milk". The sign on the shelf says "now that your child is 1 year old you were probably thinking about switching to cow's milk. Think again!" If I switch to cow's milk I am depriving my growing toddler of vital vitamins and minerals and he'll get osteoperosis, anaemia, TB and godknowswhat. I am a BAD mommy if I try to economise by giving him perfectly ordinary milk. I check the price. Try to calculate the differences. A compromise. I'll buy some and give it to him once or twice a day and then give cow's milk the rest of the time. I don't feel too mean and evil but I do feel like a fool. I'm in the marketing game. I know what this is. It's simple lies to trick me into remaining a customer and even tho' I know its crap I still fall for it. So I'm not just shopping. I'm hating myself too. Isn't life great.

But I get to hate other people too. I need hoover bags. It's beyond concept that vaccum cleaner manufacturers would get together and agree on say, 6 different designs for hoover bags. Instead there are about 50 different kinds. Will the shop stock your one? There's only one way to find out. Leaf through the disorganised heap of hundreds of bags. OF COURSE your's is not there. OF COURSE the assistant doesn't want to have to find out if they still make your bag, if it's in stock but not on the shelf, if there's an order due. Just go home and DON'T clean and DON'T BOTHER HER. And no they DON'T have the weird light bulb that's in your house. And no, they DON'T have the tiny battery you need for the gate zapper.

And WORST WORST of all, when you reach the checkout queue and you think you're going to faint, look what the clever clogs management have done. They've a cute little sign at the counter. Just over a copy of the Irish Times, "Queuing? Take the weight of your feet and read the paper. Don't forget to replace it when your done!" Except, the bloody little stool that someone brainstormed about in a marketing meeting is CHAINED under the counter and you can't get it out so you have to cling to your trolley, praying you won't fall and it sits there MOCKING you. And you point out the cruelty to the Assistant Duty Manager and she giggles as the irony is exposed and gushingly explains about how things will just disappear if they are not tied down but WHY WHY you ask is it there at all if it can't be used??? A deliberately moronic shrug and grin is offered as she rushes away to persuade some lazy student part timer to get off their mobile phone and pack bags crappily by putting the pears under the cans. No WONDER men avoid this task.

posted by Sarah | 20:25 5 comments
You should order your hoover bags online, its great, buy 20 or 30 at a time and forget about the stress, they just arrive at the door...
You should order your hoover bags online, its great, buy 20 or 30 at a time and forget about the stress, they just arrive at the door...
I just tried that as it seemed like a brainwave but I can't find anywhere in Ireland that sells them online. Any tips?
I found that UK sites will post to Ireland even if they say they far as they are concerned we are still subjects not citizens,
May I suggest you buy a Dyson.
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