Aisle Survive

Despite having the shopping delivered on Saturday morning, I had to nip into Sainsbury’s yesterday afternoon before work to get a vital ingredient for a meal later in the week. Because while I was concentrating on making sure I had all the elements of the cheese portion of a macaroni cheese, I had neglected to even consider ordering the macaroni.

So I needed a bag of it.

Just one bag. Eighty-nine pence of pasta. Basically.

Apparently, the Sainsbury’s in Huddersfield town centre is where people go to die on a Saturday afternoon. It was just awful. It was like a zombie movie, but there were no survivors. Just the brainless undead shuffling around the aisles with no sense of urgency or longing for anything. Just stopping to have conversations with other zombified shoppers in places that meant your entire route was blocked.

And then there was the Christmas aisle.

The bloody Christmas aisle.

For the few months of the year when Christmas nonsense is not on sale, this aisle is the perfect route to get to the tills. It’s usually filled with the stuff that no-one really goes to the store to buy, but they stock just in case. It’s that kind of aisle. Twenty-slot toasters, tiny frying pans and fish slices with a funny face on. You know, that kind of thing. But once it hits that magical time when it’s okay for shops to start selling the festive stuff – usually a week or so after Easter – it becomes a more popular aisle.

But not filled with people who want stuff.

It’s just filled with people who seem surprised that Christmas gubbins is for sale. And that then need to look at everything. Very, very slowly. When I worked at the bank it always amused me that Christmas seemed to catch people unawares. I never understood how no-one seemed to know it was coming. I always thought it was a bit strange that people could run businesses but be unaware of holidays which may impact the way they had to carry out certain processes. The number of people who nearly didn’t get paid because it was Christmas and no-one had realised was astronomical. But in a really scary way.

And it’s the same here in the supermarket. People turn into the aisle and are then amazed to find the oversize tins of chocolates that you can only get at times like this, or the fancy biscuits or sometimes just the absolute crap that companies churn out and put a robin on because it’s Christmas – if it was good enough for Batman, they think, it’s good enough for us.

And when you’re just trying to buy a bag of macaroni and, unthinking, you turn into this aisle by accident you find yourself trapped in a sea of cardigans and beige coats. Surrounded by people of advanced years who insist on reading all the cards, or studying every box of biscuits for exactly what they contain. And you can’t get out, or get past. No-one listens if you ask them politely to move. They’re too busy, now, with napkins or crackers or candle holders shaped like Santa’s willy.

I just wanted pasta. I should have gone down the DVD and book aisle. I know I should. But it’s too late.

Tell my family I love them.