Monday, September 8, 2008

An American Idiot in Sainsburys

It is important for me to keep laughing at myself. I try to do my grocery shopping as early as possible in the mornings so as to have the fewest eyewitnesses. I might as well be shopping in Denmark for all the good the English language does for me in England. It takes me forever to find stuff first of all, because well, tomato sauce is called passata and zucchini is called courgette and translation takes time! The problem, though, really comes at checkout. I consistently get lured by this and that item not on my list and then find myself with too much to carry home. I do have my lovely little shopping trolley (which nobody under the age of 75 owns but me) but it’s no minivan. I start out always with the most streamlined of lists and good intentions, but then I see interesting little foodies and drinkies, like pain au chocolate and Cadbury bars and digestive biscuits. I fill my cart with list and non-list items and then start to make the hard choices between the heavy, the duplicate and the bulky items (Cadbury and bottles of wine always make the cut, make no mistake). A shopper’s Sophie’s Choice. Which one can’t I live without today? Persil or Ribena? I never put back enough, however, and the walk home is almost always not without casualties. I lost control of my trolley once on some cobblestone and broke half of the eggs that I carefully packed on top and subsequently went flying into the street.
I don’t think I have had the same checker twice so the American situation comedy that is ME, is fresh and fun for each employee. I generally have fifty items to everyone else’s ten. I load it all up on the tiny platform and try to get it all jammed into the trolley, shoving the lighter items in a bag I’ll have to carry, while trying to pay and use my own bags, and not break or crush anything. As for today, I try to pay with our debit card, which is how everybody pays for everything here, and realize I don’t have the PIN, so I take that back and give the nice lady my geeky UW Credit Union credit card. It’s all a big pain because the nice lady has to find a pen for me to sign the receipt, and meanwhile, all the stuff isn’t fitting in the trolley due to my greed…and then the bell pepper falls on the floor and rolls ten feet…and I am literally scrambling around on the floor of Sainsburys as the only other customer in the store patiently waits behind me with is respectable three items. I finally get it all packed in and start to leave when the woman at the register holds up my giant cucumber and says, “Is this yours as well?” She’s holding it like a boomerang. I fumble for my wallet, now buried beneath the fifty groceries in the trolley and the poor guy behind me, says “I will pay.” I tell him “oh, no, it’s not necessary, I just have to….” But he’s already paid the 50p because I think he felt sorry for me and had enjoyed the show. I thank him because at this point, I am exhausted and embarrassed enough to LET some random dude pay for my giant cucumber. I slink out of the store quickly and try to get myself organized for the long walk home, when the same guy walks past me and leans in close as he reaches his hand over my trolley asking, “Could I just have a bite of your baguette?” Very funny. Everybody’s a comedian.

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