The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.
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1:00pm on Saturday, 15th April, 2006:
It was a busy day at Sainsbury's. Not as busy as it was yesterday, according to the manager who bellowed this out to another manager (he had to shout because my head was right in front of his mouth), but nevertheless busy. Shelves were emptying fast, so they had people restocking them. Restocking shelves involves moving palettes out into the aisles and getting in everyone's way.
There are certain days to avoid going shopping. Friday, for example, is Old Person's Day, when Sainsbury's is packed with scores of old people wandering about buying cat food and abrasive toilet paper, talking to one another as if they're lifelong friends when they only just bumped into them (in some cases, I suspect, because they can't remember if they know them or not). It's hard to get around the shop when people are moving slowly, let alone when they meander all over the place, are prone to stopping suddenly and quite often stop and go against the flow because they forgot the lavender-scented furniture polish on their list.
Another day to avoid at Sainsbury's is Tuesday, which is Carer's Day, when the shop is brimming with people whose job it is to look after the mentally impaired, along with their charges. This is characterised by slow-moving, wide loads too, especially if there are wheelchairs involved. The people don't stop so often or go in the wrong direction so frequently as the old folk, but they tend to spread out — carer in front, with charge given the honour of pushing the trolley and an invisible string connecting the two which must not be cut.
Today, though, we had regular shoppers compressed into narrow lanes by the palettes. This brought out the worst in all of them/us. I was help up more than three times each by examples of the following:
- Old dears. They are sedate and deliberate in everything they do. It doesn't matter to them that putting the broccoli in their trolley just right is holding up 4 other people, because they don't even know those 4 other people exist. For them, at that moment, only the broccoli exists.
- The Blissfully Unaware. They don't know there's a traffic problem because they don't get held up. This is because they're the ones holding everyone else up, as they dawdle by the ticket machine at the delicatessen looking at ham they don't intend to buy just so they can gauge whether or not it might be better than Tesco's should they ever decide to purchase some.
- Parents and Children-in-Trolleys. The child is sitting in the trolley and wants to be anywhere else doing anything else. The parent's attention is fully directed at the child. The parent does not notice that the trolley is angled to block passage, because the parent is attempting to placate the child so there isn't a sudden screaming fit that will bring disapproving glances from those shoppers who don't have children or who farmed them out to nannies.
- Trolley Parkers. They want something down a particularly busy aisle, so they leave their trolley out of the way and return to it when they've got their plunder. The definition of "out of the way", of course, is "out of the way of the person leaving it". The response of the woman who completely blocked off the paté section when she returned to find two of us waiting to get to it was particularly memorable: "I'm sorry", said with the exact same intonation as you might say "you arsehole".
- Women and Pack Mules. These have a bossy woman striding ahead of her long-suffering husband, who is there only as a chauffeur and trolley-wallah. The woman seems to think the man can negotiate the trolley as easily as she can elbow her way through the crowds, and gets increasingly annoyed with his failure to keep up. As with Carer's Day, the invisible string connecting woman and pack mule must not be cut, or there will be an altercation.
- Label-Readers. These are usually men, who stop to read the labels on products that they are going to buy whatever the label says. While they're standing there looking up the fat content in pomegranate juice, other people are trying to get past. These men usually only have a hand basket rather than a trolley, so they maximise their blockage quotient by standing at arm's length from the shelf.
I'm aiming to get "trolley rage" in the Oxford English Dictionary.
And they didn't have any Cadbury's Creme Eggs!
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Copyright © 2006 Richard Bartle (email@example.com).