I pity the shop­ping fools

Bray People - - News - COLMlam­bert

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.

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