Grocery Shopping

30 Jan

Definitely one of my least favourite things in the world. I absolutely HATE it, but I do tend to need to go… ever so often. Small flat, small fridge and the tendency of produce to parish…

First problem: food doesn’t make me happy. It’s just that not eating leads to dying at some stage and since that’s not entirely my intention, I need to eat. I try to make it somewhat pleasant. I have no idea what I want to eat today, let alone what I want to eat the day after tomorrow.

Second problem: planning it out is tedious; but sort of a minor neccesity. Monday it took me an hour to sort out my meals for the week. I keep a list of things that need to be replaced, the experience of not having toilet paper was not the best one I’ve ever had. I only recently, as in Monday, started doing this again, because else I end up eating fudge for lunch because that’s the closest thing and it hasn’t had the best influence on my well being. If you have to eat, might as well benefit from it.

Then comes the actual experience. Getting there was a bit of a nuisance, I’m half down with a second bout of bronchitis but I don’t have a car so I have to do this thing on my old school bicycle with bags. It’s not as fun as it sounds when you can’t breathe properly. So, sat down for a tiny bit then popped into the drug store for a minute -resisting the urge to buy make up which I won’t use anyway, and resisting the lure of the Essie stand. I just needed to gather my strength and that was the quietest place.

Enter grocery store. For some reason I can choose between a small store which sells more or less the boring basics, and an XL one. (All Albert Hein, nothing else is close by) Whenever possible I avoid rush. This week I was at the XL one, I had some new recipes in my meal planner. I use the self-scan system which at least allows me to keep a check on my expenses while shopping, and I get to bypass the queue at the till AND the hasty 16-year-old cashier who throws the next person’s groceries on top of mine, annoyed with me for not being able to pack it all up within a minute.

So, I’ve got my scanner in one hand, my phone (=list) in the other, and then I need a hand to pull the basket (wheeled baskets, brilliant!) and another to take the items from the shelves. Using a trolley would make sense, except that it doesn’t make sense to go to the car park to get one if you’re parking your bicycle somewhere else… and a basket full is about the max I can transport on my bicycle. Plus, then I’d have to put the trolley back where I found it and carry the heavy load to my bicycle.

Then it requires utter concentration to get the job done, because grocery stores don’t make sense. Utter concentration in a city supermarket is a great example of wishful thinking. Even less so if you’re in a city full of expats. I tend to think in English because it helps block out the loud Dutch being spoken around me. Except then this random oke starts a rather loud convo in English in the veg department… in a South-African accent. Meanwhile you need to watch out at all times to prevent being run over; remember, this is a country where people are raised to put themselves and only themselves first at all costs and under all circumstances. I haven’t quite figured out how it’s supposed to work if nobody watches out for anyone else and just expect them to move out of their way. In one shopping trip I’ve had several instances of people simply not noticing me minding my own business trying to be out of the way. Luckily neither me nor my carefully selected veggies got crushed, but it was close. If someone runs into you they will yell at you…

Another problem I have with supermarkets is that the layouts don’t make sense. Instead of walking through and getting the stuff I need, I end up criss-crossing through the store trying to locate things. Tomato ketchup is right next to canned goods, however, tomato paste and canned tomatoes are not there. That can be found in the world foods section, in the Italian part. None of my recepies requiring canned tomato products actually are Italian. Lemon juice would logically either be in the condiments and spices section, or in the juice section. It was in the salad section. Dried fruits? Baking products of course… because it’s so similar to flour and instant cake mixes. Condensed milk is not a milk product, but a world food. Baking soda? small chance supermarket has it, else try the drug store. It’s sold as an antacidic. All these things are Dutch cultural logic; they only use tomato paste in Italian dishes, they never use lemon juice, ‘Asians’ use condensed milk but not normal people trying to make a dessert….

So, 1,5h later I had my basket full, and paid at the auto check out. That’s really fun, because in this country of bicycles, supermarkets think we all have cars. So, I pay, this goes fairly well, unless the 16-year-old girl who does the auto checkout help needs to check that I’m over 16 because I bought some alcohol, or I get a ‘controle’ meaning they have to see that I didn’t steal anything. Then I get the receipt, and on the receipt is a barcode which you need to scan in order to get out. This is a bit of a precision task; it doesn’t scan your code if it’s not held exactly right. Great fun, when you have both hands full with your bags! If you put your bag down to scan, you need to be very quick to pick it up again because the gate closes quickly…

Repeat episode due in less than a week…

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Posted by on January 30, 2013 in ADHD, Rant


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