Grocery shopping for recluses

I went to the supermarket around lunchtime on Saturday. This of course was a mistake, because a lot of people go then and it was quite busy. At least it seemed so to me. I don’t like grocery shopping when it’s busy because I feel pressured to make my choices really quickly and get out of the way of other people. Perhaps I have an underdeveloped sense of entitlement: I am no more in the way of other shoppers than they are of me, but I feel like I’m the one who needs to get out of their way.

Grocery shopping is not something I enjoy. I dislike shopping with crowds – well, I dislike anything that involves a crowd, so it’s not really the grocery shopping I dislike. When I lived in the USA, some time ago now, the concept of 24 hour grocery shopping was fairly novel (to me, at least) so I went shopping at 2am when the store was completely empty. I only did that once, and then just because I could. But it was enjoyable reading labels in peace, having the aisle to myself, weighing the merits of boysenberry against blackberry jam, and contemplating the role of frosted pop tarts in the food pyramid (conclusion: pop tarts are not food).

The chocolate biscuit aisle was the place where I became aware I was falling apart. Years ago, I worked for a psychopath and it nearly undid me. I was standing in front of the biscuits, and found I was completely unable to understand the difference between $3.50 for Chocolate Wheatens and $3.49 for Chocolate Sultana Pasties – either the price difference or the difference in biscuits. At that point I abandoned my cart, went home, lay on the floor and stared at the ceiling. I had scared myself: I knew this was a trivial decision, and I also recognised I was completely unable to make it. Fortunately I was also aware that this was Not Normal or healthy and something needed to be done. I changed things (my life, mostly) and things improved to the point where once again I could buy chocolate biscuits.

So grocery shopping is a bit of an undertaking. It takes some mental preparation, and I have to get my game face on for dealing with crowds (I have no idea what my game face looks like, but in my head it’s steely-eyed determination exuding a ruthless sense of mission. Probably I just look cross.) There is a solution to this however: click and collect. Shop online, then just pull up and collect the bags of groceries from the lockers. All done and dusted in 5 minutes. Brilliant.

The only downside is that I will no longer bump into people I know at the checkout, and that was always a good way to catch up.