Shopping Experience


The other day Beth and I were doing some Mall Shopping. We were in the Grocery section, in a hurry as always to get the staples into our trolley, and impatient to join the queue and get over to the checkout. As we then had to pick up Rhys from his school and we were already late. It seemed too that we were going to be much later than we had planned, as there was a woman at the head of our queue. She didn’t have a trolley or a basket, but just armfuls of purchases. She was holding up our orderly progression. I couldn’t see all that well from where I was situated, but she seemed to be having problems with her card, as she kept on swiping it again, and then again without any success. Her day may have been bad up to that point, but it quickly turned to custard from then on.


Not being close, I could only glean from what was happening from the pantomime being acted out in front of us, and of course everyone else in our immediate area, However from what we could observe, the store checkout operators, were taking items from her, one by one, to match the little credit she had in her account. I was able to piece all this together when we got closer, and I was able to ask Beth some questions. I wondered if she was so desperate for money, why didn’t she head straight for one of the food depots as in this City. We have several all eager to help. The City Mission and the Salvation Army are both heavily involved in this work, and I’m sure there are others. I know that they are still active, as one has the loan of one of Rod’s trucks and they haven’t returned it to date.


How degrading it must be to be put through something like this? How does someone get themselves into such embarrassing situations? Do they have a gambling problem? Or a mate perhaps, who spends, or drinks away the families food money? I came across many situations where people are living hand to mouth while we were living in the country. This is where you can get closer and know people. However, there is always an underlying cause to their situation. I know also it’s much the same in the city where there are other signs of the general population’s well being. For instant, it’s not a good day to go shopping on ‘pension day’, as the supermarkets are packed solid with pensioners and benefit recipients. Their drought period has just ended, they all have money and can shop again. The queues are long, trolleys unavailable, I sometimes play a game by guessing and looking in their trolleys, who some of my fellow shoppers are. Ten two litres of milk, ten large cokes, ten loaves of bread must be a Dairy owner. Cheaper for them to shop at the Supermarkets rather than the wholesaler. Trolley loaded to the hilt, nothing but staples and topped off with plastic nappies. Must be a young family.


Every day you find out something new. I came across a very wealthy couple one day in the market that I knew. He had both arms full and was struggling holding everything. I said in all innocence and being ever helpful. ‘Can I get you a trolley? He replied, ‘No thanks, I’m only allowed to buy what I can carry’.As the General Manager of a large National Company. In my mind they were carrying their canniness a little too far.


Certainly I notice things are costing more when I shop. Daily prices for most food always seem to be on the increase. This can directly be put down to the fact that the recent petrol price is now above $2. a litre and is inching up. This cost is slowly filtering down to most food items as this expense is being factored through. Even starting with farmers and transport, both are the biggest users of fuel and fertiliser. We have just been warned that breakfast foods will rise another 10 to 15 cents because of the wheat price, so bread can’t be far behind, as also it’s ninety eight percent wheat.


We were watching a movie the other night when it was interrupted by an advertisement for packaged mashed potato. Surely this is taking packaged food a step too far. You will have guessed by now I’m not a fan of packaged food, but what is happening to us when folk around us are too tired, or unable to boil a potato and mash it up with a nob of butter? Convenience foods in some cases, are ideal, but they are expensive. I once had a neighbour with a family, She was completely inept in the kitchen. Her family would have starved had it not been for takeaways and pre-packaged food. She once told me that she really liked my home made soups, that I gave her from time to time. ‘What kind of a packet do they come in’? I would like to buy some. When they ceased teaching young girls cooking at school, they did the Nation a serious disservice,




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