I pity the shopping fools
AS MISTER T might have said back in his heyday, I pity the fools.
They’re the ones lured across the border into Norn Iron by the prospect of cheap food and drink for Christmas, but who find as they hit Newry that the whole operation isn’t the pleasurable nice-day-out-and-get-abargain-too trip that they hoped for.
Instead of sweeping in and stocking up on goodies and essentials alike, they’re hitting traffic jams somewhere just outside Dundalk, and when they finally make it to whatever supermarket Mecca they’re bound for, it’s a case of umpteen laps around the grounds while looking for somewhere to leave the car, hoping to avoid the kind of fights that even a Dáil committee heard about last week as the Shinner TD Arthur Morgan reported on punch-ups over parking spaces.
That committee also heard about the new phenomenon of ‘trolley rage’, as the Nordie police were called out to deal with a punch-up that erupted between two women fighting over a shopping trolley that had just been emptied by another bargain hunter. It was described as ‘a pretty nasty row’, and as we all know how vicious some women can be when their shopping plans are disrupted, I’m inclined to believe it.
So... there’s traffic jams, problems in parking, and fighting over trolleys, and that’s all before you’ve even gotten inside to be greeted by staff who say ‘what about ya?’ instead of a simple hello, and finding that most of the shelves where the real deals were to be found have already been stripped bare by others who’d set off at some unearthly hour to try beat the worst of the rush.
These poor souls end up traipsing around the aisles looking for something, anything, to buy to try make the trip worthwhile, and even though you might still be able to save a tenner on a bottle of whiskey or a fiver on a bottle of wine, you’d have to be buying enough to drink gallons of the stuff before those tenners and fivers saved would properly compensate you for the petrol used, time spent travelling, and sheer frustration suffered.
It all sounds like hell on earth to me. Then again, it probably would, as being a man, I’m not particularly fond of shopping anyway - and grocery shopping is the worst of all.
At least if you’re out to buy clothes or anything else, people aren’t leaving trolleys in your way, or blindly pushing them out from behind a corner straight into your path. But go into a supermarket, and that’s what you have to deal with - you’re more likely to have to dodge a wayward vehicle there than you are on the drive there in the first place, as so many people don’t seem to realise that others want to be able to move smoothly through the store as well. Then there’s the checkout process... often the most irritating of all, particularly if you get caught behind a certain type of shopper. Call me sexist and call me ageist if you will, but the fact of the matter is that they’re usually women of advanced years, who seem to expect others to pack their bags for them and then even seem to expect to get their shopping for free.
You know the way... every single item is scanned through before they even begin to put them into bags, once they realise there’s nobody else going to do it. And it’s only when the last of the items is safely put away that they’ll go looking for even their purse, never mind some cash, instead of having taken it out while still waiting in the queue, as though they’re half-hoping that the checkout operator might say ‘ ah you’re grand this time, you don’t need to go looking for money’.
And even when the purse is out and opened up, there’s often cause for further delay, if she’s the sort of shopper who sees a bill for something like €18.73 being a challenge to go delving into the bowels of the coin compartment in the purse to allow her count out EXACTLY eighteen euro and seventy-three cents, instead of simply handing over the twenty-quid note you can see sticking out the top.
An inordinate amount of patience is needed. And that’s just in the local supermarket on a Thursday afternoon. Imagine what the folks heading north to do the shopping are letting themselves in for.
I pity the fools.