This was written in December last year – a day after I’d left my job
If someone asked me to describe unemployment, I would say that it was a shopping centre on a Thursday afternoon. Which is exactly what I was standing in front of.
I pick a trolley and head through the gates. At first they refuse to open, so I ram them with the trolley. They open willingly after that and I shove the trolley through.
It’s right at this moment that I realise my trolley is a moron. I picked a vintage one (our shopping centre got all new trolleys a while ago, but this one seemed to have been left behind) which apparently liked to roll to the right; even when it was standing still.
I toss my wallet into the trolley and am rewarded with an electric shock.
Fine. If that’s how it’s going to be, trolley, you’ll rue the day you were manufactured.
I start trying to manoeuvre about the place, using the trolley as a battering ram to clear people out of the way. Gee it’s busy today! Then I remember it’s pension today, which accounts for all the gophers and walking frames.
Trolley begins to wheel to the right, narrowly avoiding poking someone in wheelchair’s eye out. I hastily apologize, and then smack the trolley, which gives me another electric shock.
I am slowly working through my shopping list, despite being hampered by the trolley from hell. I bypass fish fingers, as there seems to be a walking frame group gathered around them.
It’s then I notice a food chain in shoppers. First, there’s the basket wielders, who clearly can live on nothing. Then, people like me, armed with a trolley who arn’t used to trying to steer it. After me, it’s old people with their motorized gopher, who run people like me and the basket wielders down. Poor basket wielders. At least the trolley can take most of the blow. Then after the gophers, it’s:
The House Wives.
With a kid strapped to their front, one on their back and one in the trolley, these women expertly weave their way through the throngs of people. Basket wielders and armed-with-trolleys stand by dutifully as they pass. The kids that are with their Mum seem awfully subdued. Maybe they, like me, realise that their mothers are at the top of the shopping food chain.
So I’ve collected everything I need and I immediately make my way to the longest line on the checkout (this one always seems to move faster, doesn’t it, Murphy?) and I gleefully spot a Coke with my name on it. Spelt correctly too! I dart out of line and grab it.
Damn you, Coke PR people.
I get back to my trolley just in time to give a stern look to someone trying to take my place. I even snarl a bit. The House Wife in front of me gives an approving nod, and I feel my status rise a little.
I plonk everything on the conveyor belt, whilst secretly wondering if the conveyor belt would carry me too. The guy behind me starts humming Christmas carols, and I begin to relax. Maybe shopping isn’t so bad.
Then he stops and starts to pile up things on the conveyor belt too!
No way. I snap out of my stupor (I see what you were doing there, Mr Dude) and quickly shove one of those parting sticks between my stuff and his.
Then I fall back into a stupor as he begins to hum again.
Eventually I get to the front of the line, which feels like I’ve had to cross several state borders to get to, and I swear there is cobwebs on my stuff.
Finally I can pay and I set off with my trolley full of plastic bags.
Dilemma! How do I get the trolley off the sidewalk and onto the carpark? I panic a little before seeing a little ramp (in a loading zone, but meh) and quickly roll the trolley down the ramp, getting yet another electric shock for my troubles. I shove it faster than before and the only word to describe the trolley now is spasmodic.
I finally reach my car and pop the boot, which has never held groceries in my time of owning it. Instead, it’s filled with my spare tire and bits of engine I’ve been playing with.
Making a mental note to clean it out, even though I never will, I load everything into the boot and then glance around for the nearest trolley bay.
I spot one about five k’s away, and head towards it. My trolley gives me a parting shock for good luck and I abandon it.
Getting back in my car and driving home, I realise that I never want to do this. Ever. Again.