Just for fun: Supermarkets
Before writing content was my job, I used to love to write for fun. I even did it for free!
Ah, the charms of turning a hobby into a job. I can only imagine professional bed testers, chocolate tasters and beer samplers also get apathetic after too many years of pure fun.
Back then, my clunky Acer laptop would be fired up on my knees in my post-university flatshare and in between coding my MySpace profile to play Beating Heart Baby by Head Automatica (if you remember, it's time for an eye cream) - I'd blog.
I miss that kind of free space. While I enjoy writing about SaaS and tech, there are editorial constraints. I can't just wang on about make-up and cakes or stand on a virtual soapbox and shout about why I feel that the children's TV show Bluey is a masterpiece of untouchable social significance.
Alas- there's no editor here! (*laughs in a career-ending hysteria*)
So my ramble today is on…Supermarkets.
I actually love supermarkets. I find them a place of profound potential. The new ranges, clothing and usually (if I go to Sainsbury's) a chance to throw in a top or some mid-range skincare all onto the joint debit card and call it 'the weekly shop' all appeal to me and my selfish ways.
In my twenties, I went through a brief anxious stage of not wanting to be alone in my house and took to roaming Tesco at odd hours, effectively spunking away my perky years when my knees didn't creak looking at cereal bars.
That's a bit sad, and I'm okay now, but I still have an affinity with a mega-store - or indeed, shops in general, and I treat shopping as a sort of exercise / yogic/calming activity. When people exclaim that it's stressful and they hate shopping, I smile and nod sympathetically, but inside, I think, 'you're doing it wrong! You need to picture the potential new you!'
In my view, you're just a pumpkin spice bagel away from a potential life-changing taste sensation. That £12 clutch bag? Well, if you buy it, you'll probably end up going to a party. Prosecco multi deal? Well, the potential for a good time is almost certain. Best pop in some Gaviscon too.
To enter this mediate state of transcendence, it has to be some kind of mega mall or supermarket.
While it's nice to have a cheery, ethical greengrocer who asks you how your mum is and if that rash cleared up, sometimes you'd rather you didn't have to speak to anyone.
A supermarket gives you options. Want more human contact? Not spoken to anyone, and your voice making that strange croaking sound again?
Just start talking. It's Britain - they will answer back. Be chirpy to the checkout staff. Comment on the weather or the next general holiday season. Gently brush a hand of a stranger as you go to grab a 1kg block of cheddar; fall wildly in love and have your wedding ceremony near the frozen fish aisle, with a cake made purely out of Red Leicester.
The possibilities are endless.
On the other hand, you can go rogue. Dark web. Spy stuff. Want to get your embarrassing basket checked out easily? Use the robot tills and pray you aren't caught with an unexpected item in the bagging area. In and out. Boom.
While I love the general meditative qualities of a slow-paced jaunt around any supermarket, I do wonder who I am buying for. Obviously, it's me, but which me?
I only ask, as it seems Me, in the past, can be a bit of a prick, purchasing only the most punitive meals for the week ahead after a weekend of indulgence.
Then on other weeks, past Me seems to be an out-of-control glutton intent on having a trolley fit for a 'what not to buy' show and tell at the local diabetes clinic.
Go shopping too full, and I find you half-heartedly pick at various foods, coming away with a small pack of crackers, some grapes and a tub of custard, as if you're catering for an ailing relative rather than a robust family of three plus guests.
There needs to be some sort of habit tracker that analyses and scans my trolley selection against my more predictable behaviours. It could sound like a klaxon when I hold a bag of stir fry - with a loud voice (and perhaps a mild shock) alerting me to the multiple times I've ordered pizza when I've already bought all the ingredients to whip up a nourishing meal that's going to help me live longer.
A live feed could then switch to my freezer and show how many packages of food have been shamefully secreted behind the Ben and Jerry's, ready to be defrosted and eaten 'later' - the same 'later' when I will be writing that novel, learning to play that instrument and cleaning that drawer.
Finally, here's my million-pound supermarket idea. Take it for free, as I simply can't be arsed to build such a thing.
Ready? It's a cage for trolleys that takes payment on your card. Beep- doors open- take your trolley. No more rooting around for pound coins. The times I've staggered around a shop smashing a week's worth of food into a basket because I have no cash to pay for my metal basket on wheels is ludicrously high. (It's almost like I have no way of learning from my mistakes.)
It's so simple. No need to fit each trolley with a card reader at great expense, which is the first thing people say when I suggest trolleys should be contactless.
You could even have a coin area too. Sure the chains that tie them together would be redundant, but we could melt them all down and make a statue or something. Of me. Roaming the supermarket with a huge grin on my face.
BRB - off to find myself an influencer deal for M&S Food.