There’s a mango in my breath mints

2012-02-14 12:30

David Moseley

I’m not a shopper. For eight blissful years I did my grocery shopping begrudgingly, yet expeditiously with my old housemate Carlo. We stormed the Pick ‘n Pay minutes before closing and marched with military precision to the aisles we knew and loved.

Six packets of mince, six packets of chicken, tomato sauce, Nik Naks, rice, pasta, potatoes, cheese, Nik Naks, milk and Nik Naks. Twenty minutes, no dawdling, home before Survivor, monthly shopping done and clockwork enough to get the Swiss to doff their mountain caps.

Of course, we ate enough spag-bol in those eight years to turn even the most patriotic Italian against his national dish, and only recently did I discover that Pick n Pay has a fresh produce section. Who knew?

Slowly, slowly

Things change, however, and since visiting the shops with my wife-to-be and shopping in a more haphazard and laborious manner than previous years (“Should we get this, should we get that?” I don’t know, Robyn. I just don’t know. But here are some Nik Naks), I’ve noticed that normally well-mannered, law abiding citizens throw all their good breeding to the floor, somewhere between the fresh fish and wine aisles, and trample all their usual dignity to the ground.

Bumper trolleys is an obvious one. That’s something I’m sure you’ve all experienced, where a clearly exasperated mom, two malfunctioning children in tow, barges straight through you with the animal ferocity of thirsty honey badger to get to the soothing crates of sparkling wine.

Dazed and dawdling aisles wanderers, like extras from a Romero zombie classic, are another shopping hazard. These characters lurch from aisle to aisle, stopping without warning, usually in that no-man’s land between the end of one aisle and the start of another. What is it that catches their attention so suddenly? What could they possibly spot as they reach the end of the dried fruit aisle and totter towards pet care and insect repellents?

Is there some magical Aisle & ¾, akin to Harry Potter’s train station, that only shopping wizards can see? Does it transport them to a magical lane, where everything is 75 percent off, the fruit lasts longer and the queues at the till are non-existent? That can be the only rational explanation, for why else would people simply stop walking and stare, frozen to the spot, into the florescent nothingness that is a grocery store ceiling…

Till point insanity

Most interesting, though, are the till points. I’m sure at your favourite store you’ve noticed that you can’t reach the till without passing through a tempting gauntlet of last-minute confectionary stalls, cooldrink fridges and magazine racks. As with most adventures, the hero can only escape after one final, character-defining task. If Hercules had to perform his Twelve Labours for a modern audience, at least 10 of the 12 would take place in a shopping centre.

It’s here, at these till points, where you’ll spot the weirdest things, and the final confirmation that people lose all semblance of sanity after 30 minutes of grocery shopping.

Take a closer look at those chocolates, open the cooldrink fridge or glance at the magazine rack. Notice anything strange? You bet you do. Mangoes plonked amongst the Mars Bars. Nappies placed on top of the Shape. Packets of boerewors lining up with the Cokes, and other seemingly out-of-place items like deodorant, toothpaste, chilli paste and chicken legs scattered amongst the generally well-organised sweetie stand.

Is the shopping dementia that bad that sane citizens decide they desperately want a mango… up until they reach the till and lose all control of their emotions? Or that junior needs nappies for 29 minutes of the shop, but what the hell, he can do without as the moment of truth arrives.

You’ve clearly picked up deo, toothpaste and that mango for a reason. Nappies I can understand. They’re helluva expensive, and if it comes down to that and a bottle Allesveloren Shiraz, well then my kid can just poop in the garden.

But scattering random items at checkout time? A sure sign that shopping leaves the most hardened of business men and women, mothers and fathers, and even experienced spenders, with their marbles well and truly lost.

- Follow @david_moseley on Twitter.

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  • Mary-Jean - 2012-02-14 13:03

    ahhhh, gone are the blissful days of wandering around the aisles with two perfect children in tow munching happily on vienna sausages....

      Trevor - 2012-02-14 13:17


      David - 2012-02-14 13:39

      Don't lie now. You just gave us viennas to shut us up...

      Mary-Jean - 2012-02-14 13:47

      Well it worked, didn't it xxx

      CyberDog - 2012-02-16 08:57

      Ha, Ha, Ha... The powers of Social networking, bringing a family together....

  • Karen - 2012-02-14 13:17

    Love it - thank you for the laugh (especially the Allesveloren - my sentiments exactly!)

  • Vaaldonkie - 2012-02-14 13:20

    If you can't afford that stuff, don't pick it up off the shellf in the first place.

  • NinetiethOwl - 2012-02-14 13:20

    Suddenly I could really go for some Nik Naks.

      Vaaldonkie - 2012-02-14 13:23

      The good news is that someone else probably left a pack at the counter.

  • Deon - 2012-02-14 14:04

    The best place to be on a shopping day is on a bench outside and: "take your time"

      Vaaldonkie - 2012-02-14 14:47

      A real man either does the shopping, or he stays at home. Sitting around waiting for mommy makes you look like a bitch.

      Deon - 2012-02-14 15:09

      I would not mind staying home but the wife can not drive. She will be a bit grumpy when she gets home, no pudding for a month!

      Vaaldonkie - 2012-02-15 08:27

      Ah, okay then. That's different.

  • Chris - 2012-02-14 15:00

    Had a good chuckle, thanks David.

  • gerry.pelser - 2012-02-14 15:21

    "Dazed and dawdling aisles wanderers, like extras from a Romero zombie classic" - I hate to admit it, but that’s me. Allow me to explain: Scenario 1: the lady of my life gave me a shopping list, which I left in the car, and now I’m shopping from memory - which is sparse at best - and I think I might have remembered something that may or may not have been on that list. wait... what... oh, never mind, move on, sorry for the obstruction. Scenario 2: the lady of my life is not home because she’s at a hen-party and I have the house to myself. I’m allowed to make whatever I want for dinner, because Miss Fussy isn’t home. So I want to make the paint-stripper chilli-con-carne I last made as a student a decade and a half ago, and now I’m shopping from memory - which is sparse at best - and I think I might have remembered something that may or may not have been in that chilli. Wait... what... oh, never mind, move on, sorry for the obstruction.

  • RobynAddinall - 2012-02-14 15:55

    Brilliant. I laughed so hard!

  • lydonmcg - 2012-02-14 18:51

    Aisle & ¾ hahaha.

  • Heidi - 2012-02-14 23:14

    This is so true!haha I was actually thinking about it the other day...saw a packet of stray nik nakes on the last minute choccie stand at the counter...and just HAD to have them. HOORAH FOR NIK NAKS!

  • Deirdre - 2012-02-15 12:18

    He he he David, I think you have captured the shopping mentality to a T. In order to avoid the "Should we get this, should we get that?” I don’t know, Robyn. I just don’t know." I set out to my local shopping haunt with a draft shopping list in hand and made a not of what items were in which aisle. This way I too can get in and get out as fast as possible.

  • Nicola - 2012-02-16 01:19

    Engaged!? Congrats David! Lucky girl, and such a funny column :)

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