Wednesday, 20 January 2010

The Story of the Grocery Shopping that wasn't a chore.

You roll over, two hours later than you intended and groan. You blink bleary-eyed at your clock, which glows bright green: "11.36"

You put one foot on the floor, lean forwards and put on your computer with your opposite arm, before swinging left towards your ensuite shower room, where you begin your ablutions. Maybe 30 minutes later, after checking facebook, telling your boyfriend that staying up to talk to him last night was a bad idea, and then remembering your hair is wet from your shower, you'll actually get dressed, and even think about what to do on your day off.

By 13.34, it's far too late to go to town to do that shopping you probably should get around doing, but you know you should do some washing, get money for said washing (specific coins only), visit the porter's lodge where you have packages waiting for you, and pop to the on-campus local store to grab the necessary items that will keep the trek to Sainsbury's at bay for at least a week and a half.
You do the necessary walks about campus - open your packages back at your room, repack one of them and begin the returns procedure, then make sure you have your purse, keys and phone before heading out again to carry the parcel to the post office.

The postmistress is friendly, and you empathise with each other over the difficulty of buying nice shoes, or the price of posting. You then go to the bank, where you withdraw £5 in 20p coins, and moan with the now graduated bank clerk, who promises life gets better when you own the washing machine and tumbler drier.
Next you sigh, and try to form a shopping list, and walk around the corner to the mini supermarket. It's bright, and busy, and there are still trolleys out with fresh produce waiting to be shelved. You grab a basket, not making the same mistake as last time, when you queued for the till with your arms laden to just above your nose with heavy and even frozen goods.

As you browse about, you ponder what to purchase; some yoghurt perhaps - ooh this is on clearance offer - maybe two readymeals for upcoming outings - ooo some proper juice would be nice - ah yes, sweetcorn, I've needed this for a while... Eggs! Perfect. Mustn't forget the bread. Ooo kiwis at 10p each - I'll get a week's worth for 70p.
Your basket is a little heavy, but satisfyingly so, as you await a till to be free.

The till-operator is a fellow student - perhaps a post-graduate now. You know his face from previous trips, and you're almost sure he knows yours, but you can't help but grin at the jokes and attention he gives you. He takes the basket off you before you get a chance to lift it to the packing station. You know he's not flirting, he's just being friendly, and because of him the entire stereotype of a grumpy cashier is turned on its head.
He promises to pack your plastic bags equally, so that ''your arms will be the same length when you get home" - you grin and tell him that your arms are lopsided from years of saxophone carrying anyway, and he expresses interest as he continues. He scans each item with care, and then makes sure that there is one juice carton in each bag, one ready meal in each bag, the kiwis in one, the bread in the other, and finally you must pay for what you're buying.
This guy is always trying to make pin-codes more exciting - normally sci-fi related - but today he fell flat with a ''pop in your secret code please" and you tell him so. He laughs, and gives you the handles of the bags, which do indeed weigh more or less the exact same, balanced out so perfectly. I thank him with what I hope was a radiant smile, and he wishes you a good day.

 As you walk back with your perfectly balanced bags of shopping, you know people will probably wonder why you're grinning ear-to-ear. But you return to your flat and unpack and even try the on-offer yoghurt, which makes you decide to go back to buy more, it's that good, and realise that overall, your entire grocery shopping experience was utterly delightful.

Perhaps, just perhaps, even fun.

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