There was a granny with a giant trolley entering the grocery shop right in front of me. She was one of what I call a “thinking type”. As it happens ever so often, just as she had passed the entrance door, she stopped dead and went full philosopher. I couldn’t pass her from the left, I couldn’t pass her from the right and as the crowd behind me started growing, the pressure on her to move was growing, too. Luckily, she appeared to have resolved the Liar’s paradox and vacated the space.
I, however, took this for a bad omen, and that’s exactly what it was.
Sometimes, when you walk into a shop, a thing or two might catch your attention and irritate you slightly. Like this thinking granny; or when, after you have walked in and the door went shut, you find out that all the tills are fully occupied with never-ending queues of people in waiting, all of them having their trolleys filled up to the brim with enough food to sustain a hungry family for a full one year. Wartime shopping; and the door is shut.
There is a group of people with a deeply ingrained belief that the merchandise in the back of the shelf is far superior to that in the front. Just like this young woman who was turning and shaking and smelling a box of a face cream. After it passed all her testing, she put it back to where it had laid, and reached out to take one from the back, which nobody had touched before.
And there’s more!
Turning my head I spotted a man with a plastic glove squeezing bread-rolls left and right, trying whether they were fresh or not. Finding that they were, he then took the ones he had not squeezed.
This pattern repeats everywhere; with packs of chicken, boxes of butter, cups of sour cream, coffee, sugar, rice, tins, cans or bottles… Every day, everything that can be touched is touched and then not taken; all of it left to the suckers shopping in the closing time.
Nowhere is this behaviour more visible than in the produce department. I have seen the people who before they buy two apples have to move five crates. I have seen people pressing onions, smelling potatoes or rolling water-melons around the box until they were so tired, that they could not take out the one they finally decided to buy. I have seen it all. Or so I thought..
There were two crates with cauliflowers next to each other. I counted some thirty heads in total, and was about to go and take one, when this man got to them first. He touched and tried the first one and then another one. I don’t know what it was that he was trying, but he was patting them, rolling them, caressing them like the freaking Amelie from Montmartre. I kid you not, one after one he touched them all. That was it. No cauliflower for me.
But wait, there’s more!
I thus went to take a plastic bag to buy a few tomatoes, but an elderly lady had reached them bags first, so I stepped back and discreetly turned away, letting her have her take. I heard the spool turn and then a snap. The bag was taken. Then the spool turned again. Then the snap sound again. After that it went crazy. The spool was spinning like a toilet paper roll, with intermittent snapping sounds. Every time I thought that that was it, the last of the plastic bags was snatched, there came another spin. I could count to 25 and it was more than obvious to me and those who happened to be watching that those plastic bags were intended primarily for domestic use.
Why that is not considered a theft, I do not know; but it certainly is clear enough an explanation as to why there are no plastic bags around when one really needs them.
I was done. I took to the tills, stood out the line and hurried out of that crazy place.
Just as I had reached the doorway, there she was again – your thinking granny. Taking up the space and barring the door, she was leaning on her oversized trolley, looking at the box of strawberries at the bottom, this time, perhaps, thinking, whether she had everything, she had come to buy.