Have you ever gone into a supermarket in a foreign country looking for bread only to come out with lip balm (which you don’t even use), or half price flip flops (one size too small but you love a bargain) or potato chips (a flavor which you cannot pronounce and taste like cardboard) forgetting the only item you were meant to buy? And have you ever been in a supermarket so tiny that you felt you were being swallowed up by the contents not to mention that reverse mode malarkey you are obliged to do with other shoppers who have the audacity to step into your aisle? Have you ever been half way around a supermarket in a rush to buy one item only to find a mile long queue at check out and nobody willing to let you past despite your best efforts in the charm offensive?
Well whatever the reason my little cupcake, welcome to the comedic world of supermarkets no matter where you live on this planet.
In all my years as a solo travel expert exploring this remarkable planet, one of the things I’ve found myself doing on many an occasion is simply observing the comedy of life. Whether it’s the behavior of people in queues, or a sexy waiter’s table antics with the ladies, or heavy rain and that ‘gotta keep my hair dry’ resilience, you can find fun with a capital F.
And it doesn’t matter if someone is oh la la’ing around a French supermarket looking for his favorite cheese or a ciao bella and arrivedeci in Italy as groups excitedly head to the next meal, or a ‘have a nice day, missing you already’ from lovable Americans, there’s comedy going on when you take the time to slow down and look.
The foreign supermarket
Well, my little croissant, for one, nothing is in the same language. You may think you have asked Monsieur for some ‘pain’ (French for bread) but unwittingly pronounced it ‘pane’ and he sends you to the pharmacy in his basic English. Or you get excited when you think the cashier says ‘free’ and you think you have bargain of the century only to find out you haven’t weighed your bananas and she is pointing to the weighing scales for les fruites (pronounced frwee)? ‘Why couldn’t I just have paid attention in French class?’ you mumble.
And National treasures?
It’s also a lot of fun taking the time to observe national treasures while shopping which you may not have back home. We Brits LOVE our cup of tea. We take pride in this national institution and so much so, we dedicate an entire section in it’s honor in any supermarket. To the outside world, it’s just tea. Say that to Queenie, and she’ll smack you with her tiara! And ‘bon chance’ if you try saying the humble baguette is just a baguette to the French! They’ll oh la la you and your derriere on an ‘’allez simple’ (one way ticket) out of LA FRANCE on a TGV and never want you back. Tell the Italian his pizza is just pizza and he’ll catapult you across the channel on the elastic of an over sized mozzarella and shout ‘pizza off and no come backy!
And if drinking a cup of tea with the Brits isn’t your cup of tea and it gets too much, do as the Romans do, forget that damn supermarket, and head on a 3 hour lunch instead! A national treasure is to be respected!
Small and cute!
In some countries, supermarkets can take on a whole new meaning. Take Italy and the south and those sweet old ladies making home made produce from their own doorstep! There they sit looking so cute, you want to hug them! As for their pasta making skills, well, no regulation no rules and no health and safety to squelch their dreams of sharing the love. This is not a supermarket but a SUPER MARKET.
And those queues?
Now this is a discipline which has endless comedy! You see queues and humans are like Queenie and Nicky Minaj? They just don’t mix! Whilst some could do with the dignity and self restraint of Queenie, and some men would love a Minaj booty to ogle at from behind their shopping baskets, queuing is an art form. (PS Italians have mastered it and just don’t do them!)
And who needs Netflix when there’s analyzing your queue neighbors basket. For one, we have Mr Sporty Boy who buys his obligatory lean chicken, potatoes and shreddies (those muscles didn’t get there by themselves!). Then there’s the Mr Bean basic in a well combed side parting who buys his tin of beans, cuppa soup and a bargain hot water bottle. And Mrs Coupon?! No comment. And let’s not forget Miss-Informed whose basket is filled to the brim in diet food and who clearly hasn’t had the same memo the Italians have that life is meant to be fun.
And woe betide anyone in a queue who steps a toe into someone else’s territory! If you do, expect the side eye and a stray elbow flexing its muscles. Just approaching the checkout is a game of wits as trolley-gate kicks into action as the wheels are going sideways. And which queue will go faster and what if this old lady in front of me, has she forgotten to weigh her veg?!
And just when veg grandma wasn’t enough, you decide to jump over the check out shelf to the next aisle as a new cashier approaches and you think you won! And mid smirk, patting yourself on the back, she shouts ‘closed’ only for you to make your way back to the fury of the queue enforcers. Mutiny yes, you see grumpy impatience attracts the same crew. (I’ve tested this many times and the accuracy is hilarious! Now I’m my patient polly mode and do seem to get a perfectly timed checkout LOL).
Go big or go baby?
And if BIG isn’t your thing ladies and gentlemen, well there is always the sweet old man in his artisan deli who lovingly sources his own produce. You want ketchup, well he’ll make it with his own hands. You want batteries, he’ll take them out of his own radio just because he is sweet. And you want a plastic bag, he’ll give you his own bag and ask you to bring it back when you can. Ah, bliss! You can’t bye that heart based oldie’s passion and doing all with a huge smile!
And if Supermarkets Gets Too Much?
So there you have it my little cupcake! No matter where you are in the world, the comedy of supermarkets can be seen. Just slow down, pause and as in the words of Robbie, let life entertain you.
And if it gets too hot to handle, find a billionaire and his private jet, fly to France for the bread, head to Italy for the cheese and late in the afternoon when you want to nurse that champagne hangover head, go to London and have a cup of tea. Oh and stay away from buying that reduced salad you never actually wanted! Just saying…
PS And if #asda #tesco #lidl #aldi would be reading, how about the good old days of less choice, more fun! Dancing aisles, disco balls, and men behind the checkouts in a tux? As in the wise words of Coco Chanel, to be remembered, one has to BE DIFFERENT!
Until next time…
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