I had the unadulterated pleasure of a trip to Sainsburys this morning and it is clear that England's shoppers are in dire need of a little more
arse-kicking guidance, so may
I introduce you to…
… The Anne Rules, Part II – Supermarket behaviour and etiquette.
1 This is a supermarket. It is not a social club. Please do not congregate in the aisles to talk about what Mabel said to Jane about Margery. Or if you really must have this conversation, please have it in a part of the shop that no-one visits, like the hat and glove section, or the stationery aisle.
2 If you really must congregate, make sure that you do so in groups of no more than three with a maximum of one wheeled item between you. One trolley OR one pram OR one wheelie-case.
3 If you wish to purchase cheese, please ensure that you park your trolley in the cheese section. Do not abandon it in the cooked-meat aisle and then tut and purse your lips at anyone who moves it out of the way in order to access the chargrilled chicken pieces.
4 If someone is surveying the sausages, do not insert your trolley between said person and said sausages. It is likely that said person is, at some point in the near future, likely to reach for said sausages, and will be most unhappy at having to climb over your trolley to do so.
5 If a trolley is parked in an aisle, regardless of whether the parking has taken place in accordance with rules 3 and 4 above, do not park your trolley right beside it, effectively closing the aisle to all shopping traffic.
6 If you are carrying a banana and a bottle of milk, do not expect the person trying to push a laden trolley with one hand and carry a screaming child with the other, to get out of your way. You are more manoeuvrable, and probably considerably less angry. Life will be better if you just make a small detour around them.
7 Do not undertake long, involved phone conversations while perusing the fresh dip section. Others would also like to purchase hummous and cannot do so while you reach vaguely towards the shelf before becoming distracted by some particularly interesting bit of gossip and leaving your hand hovering in front of the dips, thus preventing anyone else from accessing them.
8 If you choose to disregard rule 7, do not, under any circumstances, tut when someone becomes tired of saying “excuse me, excuse me” and eventually bellows “EXCUSE ME!” and treads on your toes in a desperate attempt to gain access to the low-fat guacamole.
9 If there are ten people standing in a line behind the self-scan checkouts, you should probably assume that they are not doing so for shits and giggles. Do not loiter to one side and attempt to sidle up to the next available till. If you do so and are challenged with the traditional cry of “Oy! There is a queue, you know”, do not look around vaguely before performing an unconvincing start of surprise. You know that we all know that you knew the queue was there. “It’s a fair cop” would be a more appropriate response.
10 Do not allow your small child to scan your shopping. People in the queue will not be amused by the extra ten minutes of waiting time involved in a 2 year-old trying to find the bar-code on a loose carrot. This rule is absolute and the effect of breaking it cannot be mitigated by talking slo-o-o-o-wly and loudly to your child about the items in your basket. “Oh look, darling, the sprout is green. What else is green, sugarpie?” Your child’s intellectual development is only important to you. No-one else cares if she reaches the age of thirty still having to work out colours by reciting “I can sing a rainbow” quietly to herself. They just want to buy a sandwich.
11 Do not under any circumstances allow your children to indulge in a spot of scooter racing in aisle six. There is a difference between a supermarket and a park. One has more rampaging children causing carnage and destruction. The other has swings and slides.
12 If you do not comply with rule 11 you lose all right to feel hard done-by when fellow shoppers fail to react to your little darlings with the joy and admiration that you feel they deserve. Anything short of actual bodily harm is both justified and acceptable in such circumstances.
13 Do not unload the contents of your trolley onto the conveyor belt, gaze around vaguely while the shopper in front of you packs their bags and leaves the shop and wait until there are only three items left unscanned before announcing “Oops. Forgot the Flora” and wandering off towards the cheese and spreads aisle, only to return ten minutes later with a box of teabags, a packet of muffins, some daffodils and a copy of The Da Vinci Code on Blu-Ray, smiling cheerily at the mile-long queue of incandescent shoppers piling up behind your stalled shopping.
14 If you disregard rule 13, do not then look blankly at the just-scanned copy of The Da Vinci Code and say “Oh, is a blu-ray different to a DVD? I don’t think I want that after all.” Behind that tight, professional smile, the cashier is wishing death and destruction upon you and everyone you have ever met.
15 If you have vouchers/coupons/printouts of obscure internet-only promotion codes, do not even attempt to shop between the hours of 8am and 11pm. This type of transaction is best conducted during the hours of darkness when no-one else has any desire to purchase anything at all.
16 If you choose to undertake the aforementioned voucher activity during daylight hours, do not attempt to engage the fifteen people queueing behind you in conversation about how complicated the voucher system is. They already know that. They have been waiting for twenty minutes while the cashier tries to find the right button on the till for “Redeem Women’s Weekly Subscribers-Only 10% Off Coupon Valid Only Until Yesterday”.
17 If the cashier informs you that your aforementioned voucher is not valid, do not argue about this for a further ten minutes before demanding to see the manager. When the manager informs you that the cashier was, in fact, correct, do not then glare at the queue behind you as though it is their fault. The more appropriate response would be to offer each one of them a hand-written apology card, or possibly a singing sorry-gram. This might not, however, be enough to stop them ambushing you in the carpark and bludgeoning you into unconsciousness with a baguette.
18 This is a shop. People buy things here. Dictionary definition of “to buy”:
to acquire the possession of, or the right to, by paying or promising to pay an equivalent, especially in money; purchase.
Do not wait until your shopping has been scanned and packed and then gaze blankly at the shop assistant as though wondering what happens next. It cannot be that much of a surprise that you are expected to hand over money at his point.
19 Once your shopping has been packed and your card and receipt handed over to you, this is not the most appropriate time to scan your receipt to ensure you received your full quote of multi-buy savings and the correct number of loyalty points. Nor is it the appropriate time to inspect the contents of your wallet while picking your nose contemplatively. The reason the shopper behind you is subtly nudging you with their trolley is that they would LIKE YOU TO LEAVE RIGHT NOW.
20 If, however, the shopper in front of you is proceeding through the checkout procedure with all due expediency, do not stand half an inch away from them so that they can feel your damp, slightly creepy, breath on the back of their neck. It will not make them go any faster. It will, however, probably make them call the police.
If all shoppers agree to abide by these simple Anne Rules, I feel that we will all have happier shopping experiences and probably come home with what we all actually intended to buy and not two tins of beans and a packet of crisps to feed our children for a week, due to our intense need to get out of the supermarket as quickly as possible.
Since this will mean more money in the coffers of the supermarkets, I am hopeful that Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury will agree to sign up to a “Shoppers’ Code of Practice” allowing those who infringe the above rules to be detained indefinitely in an industrial freezer as a warning to other miscreants.