Monday, 3 June 2013

The Shopping Shambles





Ask any expert what the secret to a successful relationship is and they’ll tell you it’s communication. This is nothing new; everyone from the pop psychologist to the parish priest has been proclaiming it for as long as I can remember. It appears, however, that my partner and I like to learn things the hard way …

Now I’ve never heard any mother of a new bub actually say they enjoy going to the supermarket, but I’m lucky enough to have a very enthusiastic partner who willingly goes solo. All I have to do is write a list and off he trots. Unfortunately, enthusiasm aside, the list gets used only as a ‘rough guide’ to the things we might want around the house, rather than an indication of the items I require to compile the recipes I want to make over the coming week or of the articles necessary for maintaining our existence.

One week, for example, I unpacked the shopping to discover that, among other things, he had not bought the parmesan cheese. His justification was that it wasn’t on special that week.

“Well you don’t seem to have any qualms about devouring enormous chunks of it when it is on special”, I huffed.

Despite being thrifty at times to the point of infuriation, he also has a tendency to offset his frugality with impulse purchases. These have been known to include: DVDs we will never watch; toys that break the first time they are used and half a dozen blocks of Cadbury chocolate, because they were on “super special”.

“They were on super special”, I informed him wryly, “because their expiry date is tomorrow”.

“That’s okay”, he replied cheerfully, “we’ll just have to eat them all tonight!”

But most annoyingly of all is when I discover items are missing because he was “in a hurry”. I can understand this under some circumstances, but not when the products in question are somewhat essential. Like milk and washing powder. And toilet paper.  Now I can be reasonably patient and resourceful when I try and can work around not having milk and washing powder for a few days, but toilet paper?!? It was when an overnight visit from my parents coincided with a complete absence of toilet paper in our household that I resolved that it was definitely time for a revolution.

The revolution came in the form of online grocery shopping. When I considered its various advantages, I couldn’t believe I had never done it before. Nobody could call me a fan of technology, but the online version would not only allow me to completely avoid traffic, trollies, prams, parking and untimely encounters with my former students or worse, their parents, it would also ensure that I ended up with all the items on my shopping list and eliminate all impulse purchases. It would also save my partner a couple of hours every week and would significantly reduce the ensuing arguments we have on a regular basis regarding the vast abyss between the items on my list and what actually goes through the checkout.  Moreover, it would save my daughter from getting really cranky with me if I tried to take her with me and, with the help of the website’s ‘search’ button, I could almost instantly locate a slightly obscure ingredient, rather than wandering up and down the aisles for three quarters of an hour searching for it. Physical shopping suddenly seemed so passé.

In preparation for my first virtual trip down the online aisles, I wrote a list and just after midnight, I sat down at the computer in my uggboots, pyjamas and a face mask (I couldn’t get away with that in front of my students’ parents now could I?). It would be a tremendous surprise for my partner when he came home from work the following afternoon; there would be no need to go out again after a hard day’s work. He could put his feet up and relax as the truck delivered the groceries to our front door and all I had to do was unpack them. He would extol me for being so ingenious and perhaps we could even use those hours that he now didn’t have to spend at the supermarket doing something nice together, like talking to and looking at each other.  As I switched off the computer an hour later, feeling more satisfied than I had in a long time, I could never have anticipated what would actually transpire …

Just after lunch that same day, the delivery van pulled up. The driver carried the bags right into the kitchen for me and didn’t seem to care at all that I was still in mu uggboot and pyjama outfit (minus the facemask). I had just started to unpack the contents when my partner pulled up in the driveway. I had expected him a couple of hours beforehand, but he works a sporadic schedule, so I wasn’t too surprised. He bounced out of the car, beaming.

‘I’ve got a surprise for you!” I announced, beaming back.

‘I’ve got one for you too!’ he exclaimed, and before I could tell him mine, he continued:

‘I picked up the shopping list you left next to the computer this morning and I’ve been to the supermarket already and this time”, he declared triumphantly, ‘I got everything on the list!’