When I was pregnant I received a lot of those ‘money off your first home supermarket delivery’ coupons which people told me would be ever so handy with the baby. I never used them as I felt waddling to the supermarket was the least I could do while waiting and, once my world shrunk for a while after E was born, at least a trip to the shop wasn’t too far beyond my capabilities.
Working compacted hours now means that I don’t have time to get the shopping done except at weekends so the delivery system is now a viable option. (By the way, people who tell you you buy less with the delivery system because you don’t do impulse purchases hasn’t met me. I realised the delivery option often has the items my smaller Sainsbury’s doesn’t stock – bigger fruit selection, harissa paste, etc etc) But to get a delivery means that I have to be organised enough to place my order early enough to get the cheaper delivery option and, with us being away this weekend, I hadn’t done it. So we’d no food in the house and E and I went to get some in.
S works on Mondays at an arboretum in Ashby so needs the car. And the supermarket is only 10 minutes walk away. Now, there are trollies for people in wheelchairs, trollies for people with 1 or 2 small babies and trollies for people with children. The lone, carless parent, however, who needs to get a week’s worth of food to prepare before they go to work for the rest of the week, has no option but to try and maneouvre a trolley (I took a single person’s one, the smaller kind) and a pushchair together.
I managed to put them alongside each other and, with a hand on each, push them along in tandem. But this only works in aisles where there are no other people. The rest of the time I pushed one then the other, or pushed one and pulled the other, all the time hoping I didn’t ram someone’s ankles or knock something over. All the while I did so, worrying that I was the embodiment of Middle England’s idea of a single mother, not at work on a weekday, pushing her child around and knocking down respectable pensioners while she did so. I read somewhere the other day that I shouldn’t worry so much about what other people think of me because most of the time they don’t. I never remember this advice when I actually need it.
Anyway I was halfway round when a voice behind me said “Would you like some help?” A Sainsbury’s worker who’d noticed me struggling had come over to push the trolley for me. How kind. “You think they’d have worked something out by now, wouldn’t you?” she said. Well, do you have a staff suggestion scheme? Get in there.
Of course, help of this kind throws up all kinds of other problems. First up, my shopping style, which is haphazard at best, was thrown into the spotlight. I tend to make a list, give it a cursory glance as I go round and then have to go back for all the things I missed. Can’t do that with someone patiently following me around with a trolley. Well, I could but it seems mean.
E had also taken the shopping list off me and was waving it around so if I wanted to check it we had to go through an adorable/ ridiculous charade of me asking to see it and then handing it back to her after I’d tried desperately to memorise at least three items.
The lady ran into a colleague as we were going round. “Are you putting things away?” the colleague asked. “No, I’m helping the lady,” she replied. I never know whether to acknowledge people are talking about me in this kind of exchange so ended up finding the crisps and nuts snack selection very interesting. The colleague seemed surprised. It doesn’t seem like this kind of customer service is usual. Not to her at least.
It was with relief that I landed at a checkout desk and said thank you. How I hate drawing attention to myself. And of course my bloody stupid stubborn independent streak. But really, in this day and age, it’s hard to believe that someone hasn’t thought about all the city-based lone parents who don’t want to go shopping every day. We need our own trollies!