Armed with nothing more than a shopping list.

This article on Radio 5 Live will hardly come as news to most people but it reminded me of my relationship with supermarkets and for that matter, just about any organisation that wants to sell me something. I don’t know about you but when I walk into a supermarket I feel a bit like a gladiator entering the lion’s den. Armed with nothing more than a sharp shopping list I am expected to take on the mighty power of the marketing psychologists that have laid out the store and set up the offers in such a way that my demise would seem inevitable. My carefully written note feels like a poor defence against the deadly sharp teeth and claws that I am faced with. I hesitate momentarily before entering the store and create a positive mental image of victory to boost my confidence before launching myself at the hungry beasts. Let battle commence.

Once in there I really quite like the challenge. It’s a battle of wits and wills. I like to think of it as two mighty intellects locked in mortal combat. My quest is to leave the building with nothing that isn’t on my list whilst theirs is to have me wheeling a trolley to the car that looks like somebody has just announced that there is a red warning for snow in Lancashire tomorrow and the government has just announced a 200% increase in wine tax from Monday.

If it wasn’t for this overpowering feeling that I am at war, engaged in a fierce fire-fight and seriously out-gunned, I might actually like going shopping. I might enjoy meandering along the aisles, browsing the products and selecting exotic new produce that I haven’t tried before. I might get ideas for tasty new meals from the delicatessen or the world food shelves. I could even wander into the clothing or footwear departments and treat myself to a new pair of slippers; but unfortunately it’s just too dangerous.

Buy one get one free?

Buy one get one free?

You see I know that this is exactly what the enemy is hoping for and like a carefully obscured ambush squad; the buy-one-get-one-free offers are lurking in unexpected places just poised to attack the moment I let my guard down. But I’m ready for them.

Unlike the highly trained commando who’s eyes are everywhere, on the lookout for snipers, mine remain firmly fixed on the few carefully selected items I have written down, wavering only momentarily to take in the overhead produce indicators lest I should stray into enemy territory. You really don’t want to find yourself in the electronics aisle when everything on your list is edible, believe me. I see myself as a member of the elite special forces, not only able to move swiftly, dodging bullets and grenades, but also, at the same time able to make rapid calculations based on price per unit or pence per 100 grams. The Weetabix may well be ‘LESS THAN HALF PRICE’ but I happen to know that in Lidl’s they are only eight pence per biscuit and your “LESS THAN HALF PRICE” works out at nine pence. Ha, ha! Victory to me!!

I arrive home feeling battle weary but smug. Another day, another battle and despite a mild but temporary bout of PTSD I have survived another round. Everything on my list is ticked off and as I am putting the shopping away Gill comes home and says, “Did you get any of that really nice beer that’s on special offer at just £1 a bottle?” Bugger! It wasn’t on the list.

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