I’ve lived in this city for over forty years — I moved here in 1977 to go to university. After graduating I spent the rest of the 80s in graduate school doing cutting-edge research on, well, nothing. For all of that time I lived in a poo-coloured building about a fifteen minute walk (I was younger then — these days it would take longer) from my office and its decorative and functional wall of cups.
One of the reasons I chose the poo-coloured building was (of course) location: It was a four minute walk to my favourite music store, a three minute walk to the store with the cheapest underwear in the city and a two minute walk to the best small grocery store in town. Not only was the grocery store nearby, it was open 364 days a year and it was on my route home. And that meant that I tended (at least five days a week) to stop in on the way home to buy supplies for dinner. Inevitably, after a few years it was basically a giant pantry — just a little farther from the kitchen than most pantries are.
I moved out of the poo-coloured building thirty years ago but that habit is still with me to some extent — I still treat the neighborhood supermarkets as giant pantries and visit them, well, a lot more than most people.
Of course, what with the current global situation this has changed —
the other day I was in a supermarket for the first time in weeks. In
particular, I went to the supermarket where I often look for
nutritionally questionable food-like substances. (I am more than a
little bit like the star of a 2017 video — just taller and slightly
less erudite. Apropos to nothing, when you do this in a supermarket
you get funny looks.)
Over a hundred years ago (and again in 1962) a famous Canadian confessed to being rattled in banks. Me? I get rattled everywhere. Especially supermarkets. And especially especially that supermarket — it has a history of actively trying to rattle me. This visit didn’t start well — there was a guy at the door squirting people with goo. Of course, goo is another thing that rattles me. So I had a brief flashback (or two) but then I remembered why I was there. After all, I had my list. I was determined. I was focussed.
So I moved forward and picked up some raspberries (on the list) and took care to steer clear of things that might distract me. Like the snack aisle. Like the ‘drinks-to-make-you-jittery section. Like the corner with the disorienting signs. All good ideas but unfortunately that had me run into something else that made me stop in my tracks, go ‘huh?’ and lose my focus. Also, even though it wasn’t on the list it obviously went into the cart. (So I could photograph it when I got home, of course.)
Now, this supermarket is probably at least fifty years old. Supermarkets from that era typically had aisles too narrow to pass people and still follow the rules so I wound up following someone through the aisles, moving when she moved, stopping when she stopped. In the very first aisle she stopped to stock up on something (crackers, I think). That left me standing next to a shelf full of one of my favourite self-indulgences.
H’m. Nothing on sale. But I have to stop here. My favorite is sold out. But I have to stop here. My second favorite is sold out too. BUT I HAVE TO STOP HERE. And look, they have that mango-flavoured one I kinda like… And the woman in front of me was still browsing crackers. Damn.
But no. I’m determined. I’m focussed. I have a list. And the nice lady with the crackers was finally moving. Yay. I was safe.
Until she stopped fifty feet farther on. Which meant I had to stop too…
right next to the shelf that holds my all-around favourite snack ‘food’. And it wasn’t sold out. And it was on sale. And it was covered with pictures of one of my favorite movie superheroes.
My focus — gone. My determination — missing. My list — forgotten.
Good thing there was lots of room in the pantry.