Jan 30, 2021: The Last Straw

I included some straws on the shop this week. Not plastic ones, I’m not a monster. Paper ones that are dutifully disposed of correctly at the end of their lives.

As with all great trends, Carole got into using straws for her various cordial-based drinks once they because Greta Thunberg’s greatest nemesis. And so we have paper straws in the cupboard, in a Sports Direct mug. And when that runs low I order more.

I ordered two packs – one blue pack, one pink pack.

We got one blue pack. The pink pack was not in stock.

For a substitute you may think we would get another blue pack.


We got the next most obvious substitution for a straw.


In the past we’ve had a packet of paper cups in the place of the straws. At least they are both drink related.

But napkins.

This is a suggestion by a system which has been programmed by humans to pick the next best thing. What’s worse about this is that the shopper doing the picking can see what you want and what isn’t in stock and they just go with whatever the machine tells them to pick. They’re not allowed, seemingly, to say “No, that’s probably not right. Let’s just say there are no suitable alternatives.” Or even, “Let’s just give them another pack of those straws.”

A human saw our list and didn’t question the robot overlords when they said, “Yeah, napkins will do.”

What the actual chuff.

I asked for some thyme as well. They sent mace.

Thyme is a herb. Mace is a spice. Thyme could easily be substituted for any of the green herbs, really. I could have worked with any of that. A pot of mixed herbs, even, would have done the job.

Mace is like nutmeg.

It’s just a bit different.

I also asked for some orange and ginger marmalade. That wasn’t in stock either. So they sent lemon and lime marmalade instead. Surely the obvious sub for an orange and another ingredient marmalade is just orange marmalade. Don’t change both the flavours.

I know that it’s harder at the moment, and things are going out of stock and what have during the various lockdowns all over the shop (haha) but come on…

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m just off to roll a napkin into a tube so Carole can drink through it.