After a hundredth attempt to anxiously marry the old rusty key with the young and virginal door lock my matchmaking labour finally arrives at the inevitable success and the creaking door lets me out on the stone floor of faded stairwell.
I check my pockets only to discover that my credit card is securely attached to my right buttock. It has never ever been anywhere else than in this intimate position, but still, every time I go out, I must check its location to be on the safe side.
The rucksack is painfully squeezing my weak left shoulder — the signal that I’m perfectly equipped for yet another outing to the nearest supermarket. This also means that I’m bored and in need of some social interaction. Yes, at least with a cashier lady.
When it comes to supermarkets one thing is certain — you simply can’t find anyone who is more addicted to them than I’m.
Actually, I go there on a daily basis, and multiple times on particularly productive days.
This unusual affection began as soon as I flew away from the warm branches of my parents’ nest. Living with my parents meant that the range of produce available for my consumption was mostly determined by their will, and thus the need for doing groceries in propria persona was low enough to stop me from pulling out my slim yet beautiful body from the viscously-enshrouding arms of the old Soviet sofa.
But once I embarked on a sole journey, the privilege of being fed by two caring individuals faded away and the need for hunting for my own produce became rather imminent and pressing. That’s when the obscure world of grocery shopping dropped its curtain and forcefully dragged me into the play with too many identically-dressed actors and alluring props spread out on the white shelves.
I remember that my very first visits to the isles of consumerism were accompanied by the sentiments of confusion, novelty and fear.
I was confused by the overwhelming range of different labels attached to products I have never seen before, making it extremely hard to navigate.
I was struck by the novelty of this experience as never in my life have I had so many choices to make in a timeframe of 30 to 45 minutes
Plus I had this irrational fear I would be ridiculed for being a novice vendee with the little shopping experience and strong infirmity towards shiny, colourful and expensive boxes filled with sugar-coated cereals.
On the side note, it still puzzles me how consumer companies manage to mix so many types of sugar in just one innocently-looking product and hide them under the names of brown sugar, white sugar, yellow sugar, mixed sugar, racially-ambiguous sugar and etc.
Why do we allow to confuse trustful kids, young parents and green customers in such a sneaky way?
No wonder diabetes is on the rise!
Also, why bother with ingenious labels if you can just write sugar, sugar, sugar, sugar, sugar and honey(just to make it look a tiny bit healthier)?
Anyway, all of that is in the past now.
Today I’m a different type of consumer. A smart one. I can tell my whole-wheat pasta from the refined one. I know that an apple a day keeps a doctor away and a biscuit a day brings fat belly my way.
Today my basket is filled with whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, olive oil, some fish and fermented dairy to resemble the diet a typical Greek or Italian might eat. Which feels slightly awkward as I’m not even remotely Greek or Italian. The only things my ancestors ate was potatoes, pork lard and mushroom soup — which only slightly resembles the Mediterranean diet.
But the Mediterranean diet is good for you — at least that’s what newspapers claim. And newspapers never lie. So I will keep eating Greek salads every day until new research comes out saying the Mediterranean diet increases your chances of getting cancer by 347 per cent, after which I might stop and go back to eating potatoes, pork lard and mushroom soup.
Anyway, today I’m so experienced a consumer that I can even share my humble yet expert opinion on the level of ripeness of an obviously unripe avocado with a fellow purchaser and advise him on how to shop organic produce and not get stuck in arrears for the rest of your life for doing so. I do am qualified to give such advice as having been personally stuck in such a delicate situation on several occasions in my short yet adventurous life.
But most importantly, today I rarely go to supermarkets for the sake of shopping. Well, at least not every single day.
I usually pursue rather different purposes:
- For one thing, a walk to a supermarket can serve you as a really nice workout. We rarely move our limbs these days so a small hike towards your favourite grocery shop is nothing less than precious for your wellbeing.
- Second, supermarkets are an excellent venue to showcase your most luxurious clothes and accessories. Put on those slightly flagrant but yet charming Balenciaga sneakers which cost you an immodest amount of dollars, pull on those Calvin Klein jeans and don’t forget to wear that cheap vintage shirt you bought in Berlin as evidence of how you can add some chic to your style without spending a fortune on clothes.
- Third, you can always engage in a friendly conversation with a cashier lady while she tries to explain to a dogged man in old Adidas sweatshirt that she ran out of money to change his old and suspiciously looking note.
- Fourth, and my personal favourite treat, is to go to the most expensive organic shop in town and spend hours looking through the endless combinations in which manufacturers mix superfoods, nuts, seeds and quinoa, yet knowing that you will leave with nothing because you have common sense and minimum wage job.
Put simply, today I go to a supermarket in the very same way my grandparents used to go to a church. I do so at least once a week on Sunday, mostly to entertain myself but also get some wine and bread for the sole purpose of soul-cleansing. And I suspect I’m not the only one guilty of doing so.