06 June 2009

Dawn of the (nearly) Dead

Mrsslippy worked a night shift last night, meaning our usual exciting Friday evening jaunt to the shops had to be postponed.

Her parting words were 'I'll do the shopping in the morning before I go to bed'.

'Grand' thought I. 'Add some bacon to the list and I can be woken by the sound of it gently frying',

However, since my now structured life has vanquished my ability to lay in at the weekend, when she came home to change out of her uniform, I leaped out of bed with gay abandon and offered to join her.

The car park looked pretty empty on arrival, and there was the promise of freshly stocked shelves, rather than the 'East Berlin bakers circa 1985' appearance that Tesco sometimes has on a Friday evening.

It was only upon entering the sliding doors that the true horror of what lay in store hit me.



Shuffling, mumbling, or just staring into space. It was like a scene from George A Romero's most excellent 'Dawn of the Dead', where a band of survivors from the undead outbreak that kicked off in 'Night of the Living Dead' shore themselves up in a shopping mall, while the undead denizens go about their business, unaware that their life has been snuffed out.


Viewed as a satirical observation on commercialism and the impersonalisation of sprawling shopping centers and massive globalisation, it was now a harsh reality.

Aisle upon aisle of grey faced automatons. Clutching shopping lists that they may as well have had laminated 15 years ago; purchasing habits not changed since they first drew their pensions and faced the realisation that a tin of spam, a tin of corned beef, a tin of pilchards and a loaf of thinly sliced white bread was about as exciting as food was going to get for the rest of their lives.

Yet with nothing else to do until pension day, this was their big outing for the week, so no rush. They've got all day......

I treat the supermarket aisles as motorways, or busy A roads. There are three lanes; the ones at the edges next to the produce are the 'slow lanes', and have double yellow lines. The central third lane is for cruising at speed, or overtaking. It can only be used as a car park by the shelf stackers, as they know to only close off the lane in a position where the other two lanes are clear.

You can move up and down the outside lanes at a reasonably leisurely pace, and can even pull over, provided your engine is still running.

By this I mean that you know what you want from the shelf, and are either trying to locate the best 'best before date', or weighing up the options on a couple of new varieties of a product. It is not a place to stop for a chat about how your prostate is now so large that it hangs out your arse, and when pissing it takes you so long to get started that you now paradoxically have to get up to the toilet two hours before you've actually gone to bed.

And you should only be allowed to stop for a maximum of 30 seconds. Any longer than that and you should be barred from the store. I waited an unfeasibly long period this morning because an elderly couple (with a trolley each no less!), had both parked blocking the entire bacon shelf whilst they inspected every single packet. I ended up having to drive round the block, because I was then causing a jam in the middle lane whilst waiting for an opportunity to pull in.

Curiously enough, of the handful of items that they had in each trolley, the fella, who was bald, had got a tub of Brylcreme (he'd been parked in front of the hair products earlier when I was trying to get some wax).

See - so stuck in his sad shambling grey life, he'd not even noticed he'd lost all his fucking hair.

And if parking in the outside lane is a social faux pas, it can be circumnavigated provided the overtaking lane is clear - which this morning was generally filled with all manner of road blocks.

Firstly, the idiots who park in it the central lane to stop for a chat with some other twat who has parked next to the produce. This creates a bottle neck as traffic has to move in both directions in the remaining lane. It can often happen on any day of the week, but what I saw this morning was people parking side on to talk, effectively blocking the entire carriageway.

Then there are the ones that abandon their vehicle. As you then go to move it to either get through, or access a shelf, you may be met by the returning shopper, who gives you a dirty look for touching their stuff, even if they haven't paid for it yet, so technically incorrect.

Sometimes there is no sign of who the trolley belongs to, and there's a creeping suspicion that they owner has forgotten all about it and has long gone home. Either that or they're now merrily filling another trolley. They've probably been there for hours and have dozens dotted all over the store.

Lastly, it's not a trolley hazard, but human.

The recently retired gentleman.

You know the sort - no longer able to rest on his laurels after being the bread winner all his life, he's never had to assist with bread buyingBut now he's been told in no uncertain terms that he is expected to help with the shopping on a Saturday morning.

And he hasn't got a fucking clue.

Still dressed in shirt, tie and blazer, because he's never learned to dress down, he follows the wife and her trolley around, always a couple of feet behind and to the side, like some bewildered slip fielder, waiting for a tickle - but she's such a pro she's knocking everything straight into the trolley. The only time he's going to see any action is when the scorecard comes out.

So there he stands, blissfully unaware that he's standing in the middle of the fast lane. Ask him to politely move, and he gets all flustered and starts looking to his wife for help, as if he steps out of position without the captains permission he may well drop a wicket taking catch.

I know they can't help it. But they get up at 5 o'clock in the morning, can't they just do their shopping then?

Just like the Zombies in the films, they don't know they're doing it, but I know what the kindest option would be.

It's what they do in the films, and if ever show signs of becoming one of the living dead it's what I'd want - please - just fucking shoot me.

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