The 10 rules of supermarket shopping

All shopped out? Thought so.

Even the most prosaic shopping expedition – to your local food supermarket, for example – can be a highly stressful experience. The problem of course, is the other shoppers. Obviously, the problem is worse during the holiday season as there are more of them about and they’re buying more stuff, but in truth your fellow shoppers can be the main cause of your soaring blood pressure at any time of the year.

Yet it doesn’t need to be like this. Like any other form of social interaction, shopping needs structure and if we all adhered to these ten simple rules then sharing a supermarket with your fellow man would be so much more pleasant. For you, at any rate.

  • Always take a full-sized trolley, even if you’ve only popped in for a baguette.

As your ultimate goal is to cause as much inconvenience as possible to as many other shoppers as possible, you will need the largest size in order to maximise your blocking potential.

  • Arrange to meet friends in the shop.

This provides a perfect excuse to come to a juddering halt without warning, park up your trolley next to theirs, thereby blocking the aisle completely for everybody else, and have an oblivious natter for ten minutes.

  • Remember that you only need to hold on to your trolley when it’s in motion.

Otherwise, it should be left either in the middle of an aisle, so as to block both directions, or – ideally – at an intersection.

  • Never leave your trolley by the shelves of the section that you are actually looking at.

To do so cuts your potential blocking capacity in half. Far better to let it obstruct another section while you busy yourself getting in the way of someone who happens to want to buy the same thing as you at the same time.

All good things come to an end, and eventually, you will have to proceed to the checkout. This is because you have other things to do and other places to be. Unlike everybody else, who are genuinely glad of the opportunity to spend as much time as they possibly can on this essential chore. Fear not though, there is still plenty of opportunity to give the gift of wasted time to your fellow man.

Someone's doing it right….

Someone’s doing it right….

  • Ensure that you have bought at least one item of fresh produce that the supermarket requires you to weigh yourself.

But do not weigh it. This way, the elderly person on the till will need to abandon their post and wander off to do it themselves. Rest assured that they do not mind this at all – they get paid just for turning up. As a further refinement, when it comes to pre-priced items you can select the ones with the damaged bar-codes, which will then have to be keyed in manually.

  • Always forget at least one item.

You should not remember it until you have laid out all your other purchases on the belt and the cashier has started to ring them through. This will ensure that nobody else can be served while you go to the far corner of the store for those crucial paperclips. In an ideal world, you could meet up with your friends for that ten-minute gossip on the way.

  • Be absolutely amazed when everything’s finally gone through and the cashier indicates that you actually have to pay for it.

Relax: there is no need to panic or – perish the thought – hurry. First of all, finish your packing (it goes without saying that you should stow your acquisitions at a far more measured pace than they are passed through to you). Only then should you begin patting your pockets to find your wallet or purse, which – after an appropriate period – you will discover is at the bottom of the bag you have just filled with the stuff you’ve bought.

Only choose your means of payment when you have your purse or wallet in your hand and after a thorough internal debate about the relative attractions of the available options.

  • Try to avoid paying in cash.

It’s far too quick. If you absolutely must hand over the readies, take great pains to provide the exact amount. As a part of this process it is important that you bemusedly proffer a handful of small change to the cashier so that they can pick through it, very slowly, for the right money.

  • If at all possible, pay by cheque.

Yes, you can still do this in France. Don’t be put off by the fact that the supermarkets now have machines that fill out everything except your signature. At least one form of ID is still required, and if you can ensure that this has been left in your car’s glove compartment and you need to go and get it, then you have achieved mastery of the art of shopping and there is nothing more I can teach you.

  • And finally, when the transaction is completed, carefully put everything away before getting out of the bloody way leaving.

Be sure to follow the Russian dolls principle – money or card back into the purse, purse into the handbag, handbag zipped closed and then put into the shopping bag, which is then put into the trolley with your purchases. Then, and only then, you can leave.

Now, wouldn’t that be much better for all concerned?

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