I have just returned from a lovely trip to the supermarket.
Not possible you say. I would have thought so too.
When I lived in New York it seemed normal to buy your coffee and milk at two o’clock in the morning and do your laundry just before the sun got up, (there was a little beer garden out the back and a sign requesting you remove all bullets before placing your clothes in the machine) but that doesn’t appear to be the norm in old Sydney town.
The closest to it I can get is a spin through Woolies at midnight and let me tell you, what a joyous shopping experience it is.
You see, I get horribly distracted in a supermarket. By the selection of lettuces and the variety of jams, by the babies screaming and the mothers joining in. By the old men leaning on their trolleys because they’re too old to hold themselves up, and the barefoot uni students buying a loaf of white bread and a packet of skinny sausages. By the horrible music they play that always manages to sound like a Christmas tune, by the Nutella spill in aisle three, by the choice of eggs (which took me a while to locate in the first place because in the US you’ll find them in the fridge) when all I want is an un-hormoned, happy hen that lays its eggs in a little straw nest and an old lady called Marge collects them every morning, pulls off the feathers, wipes off the poo and sends them off to the supermarket for people like me to buy. By the number of items the deli calls sliced meats, by the frozen peas and my eternal debate about whether the name brand is of lower quality. (They aren’t, I don’t believe, and I keep a packet handy in the freezer to mix with a mashed potato or put on a swollen post-knee run).
By the time I get back to the checkout, I’ve forgotten half the things I actually needed (milk, oranges and peanut butter – absolute staples in my diet) but do have three different boxes of crackers, (something wheaty, something foreign and the standard box of Jatz) half a dozen fresh figs the price of which I gag at when the checkout person weighs them, and dryer sheets even though we don’t have a dryer.
Not the case at eleven thirty at night, with half an hour to go till they close, and the only thing to worry about is running over the deodorants left waiting to be stacked in the toiletries aisle. There is no irritating music, no distraught youngsters, no one parking their cart sideways while they read the ingredients on every tin of Campbell’s soup, no overwhelming smell of all day cooking barbequed chicken, no kamikaze grapes to dodge in the produce section.
I can take my time in the cereal aisle (I have been known to live on breakfast alone and take the buying of such an item very seriously indeed) carefully reading the ratio of fibre to potassium though I don’t know how much I need of either anyway. I wander down the miscellaneous aisle filled with tea strainers, pencils and paper plates and wonder – again – why I didn’t skip it.
I actually read my list of essential purchases and have the patience what’s more to seek them out.
It’s me, the nighttime stackers, some lady in an aubergine dressing gown and a bloke buying enough cigarettes to supply a small village.
Peaceful, polite, late night shopping. No queues, no madness, no nonsense.
And I tell you, my groceries taste all the sweeter for it.