I don’t trust people who “just pop into the supermarket to grab a few things”. If you voluntarily go to the supermarket when you’re not out of loo paper to the extent that you’re picking leaves out of your garden and stacking them next to your toilet, you’re either a bit sick or a frighteningly fearless bastard. Skin me, lock me in a cell, force feed me capers, but please don’t send me to the supermarket on my own.
Supermarkets toe the blurred line (too soon?) between a social event and a solitary one, and so for someone who lives in their head and only comes out to visit on occasion (like me), they are beyond flustering. I’m forced to switch constantly and rapidly between the colourful confines of my own mind and the confusing world of Other People, full of bizarre rituals and arbitrary etiquette.
Usually I prep myself for a supermarket visit while I’m in the car. “I’m just popping into the supermarket to grab a few things,” I say out loud to nobody. “Just… popping into the supermarket. To grab a few things. Oh look! There’s the supermarket. That’s where I’m going now, just to grab a few things. Casually grab them off their little shelves and pay for them and pop them in a bag and come home. Like all the other people popping into the supermarket. Pop pop.”
“Oh, shit,” I then say invariably as I’m parking my little car in a diagonal car spot (the easiest car spots in which to park cars). “This is not even in the lines. I’m the worst parker ever. That guy is looking at me. He’s probably thinking, shit, she’s the worst parker ever. Oh fuck. I’ve hit the curby bit. Better back up… oops, check for children. Haven’t hit any? Right. There. Good. Let’s go popping the supermarket into a few things.”
I’ve been stumbling around with armfuls of groceries for ten minutes before I remember that shopping baskets are a thing. I end up having to set out my items on the floor, like a little child playing with toys, so that I can stack them into the basket. “I am an adult,” I remind myself, “doing grocery shopping.” The woman next to me smiles at me a bit nervously. Oh God, I said that out loud, didn’t I?
I’m seeing to the very important business of getting flustered about the shampoo options when someone behind me says “excuse me, sorry” and reaches for the shelf. I turn around to get out of the way and he’s slightly more attractive than I was anticipating, so of course I do the only thing there is to be done: drop all my groceries and mumble what I’m 83% sure were the words “ah, felafel”. Oh my God. He smiles kindly (pityingly?) and helps me pick up my things. I’m mortified, but I guess I should be grateful I didn’t say “pork ribs”. I’m a vegetarian, so that would have been ridiculous.
I’m pretty sure I’ve forgotten to get half the things I came for, but by this point I’m sure everyone in the supermarket has noticed that I’m rambling mad and now I’m a bit embarrassed and I need to get out. I go to self-serve (of course) and spend three and a half minutes deciding whether to spend money on biodegradable bags. I decide that would be too degrading, then laugh out loud, because that was a joke. There’s a person waiting for my machine, so I stop laughing out loud and put my stuff through the register.
“Thank you for shopping in hell,” says the robot.
“You’re very no worries.”
I get home and realise that in my flustered state I’ve made some not-quite-right purchases. But to be honest, I’m so relieved to have survived another supermarket trip that I’m more than happy to wash my hair with body wash and pour puppy milk on my cereal… at least until the next time when I have to do it all again.