Monday, March 02, 2009

Oh My God, I’ve Got Legs!

Since Tom’s birth nearly 17 months ago Karen and I started to do our weekly food shopping online.

It wasn’t that we found visiting a supermarket each week particularly onerous – in fact it was quite nice shopping as a family – it was just that it was so damned time consuming.

OK. OK. It was particularly onerous.

Nearly two hours of our precious weekend disappeared every week up the supermarket swanny. Nothing about supermarket shopping is geared up for ease, efficiency or pleasure. You have to use shoddy, ill-kept equipment (the ubiquitous trolley). You have to fight your way through herds of ignorant, selfish, grumpy animals (other people) barging their way passed you in the opposite direction. And then you have to pay for the entire social carbuncle at the tills which are merely a bottleneck of disgruntlement.

All you need is to have a favourite item of food discontinued or sold out to complete the misery.

Quite frankly shopping was a nightmare.

Hence our eagerness to embrace online “virtual” shopping.

And all in all it’s been great.

You still spend an hour or so doing it because the server is so damned slow but you can sit down while you do it. With a cup of tea. In the comfort of your own home. With the telly on.

And then some nice man in a van delivers it all to your door at a time that you specify.

It’s blooming marvellous.

If only I could find someone to put all the goods away in our freezer once they’ve arrived it would be a perfect system.

Anyway, the near perfect system let us down for the first time yesterday.

The fridge on the van broke down so they couldn’t deliver our fridge / freezer stuff. We could have waited another day for it but with a baby in the house you can’t really go without milk for any length of time. So we elected to physically drive to the store and collect our cold items ourselves.

My God, but it’s amazing how quickly shopping online de-skills you for the real world. The supermarket – once so unpleasantly familiar – is now totally alien... Horrid lighting, aisles like blocked arteries and... worst of all, people... living, breathing, moving people absolutely everywhere.

And not a cup of tea in sight!

I felt like a modern 21st Century man hurled back in time to a medieval darkly bygone age. How can people live like this?

The internet has plainly weakened me. It has destroyed my ability to cope with the real world. Reality has suddenly become antimatter. If it ain’t pixelated I can’t cope. I carry my modem around with me like a security blanket.

I’d already noted my recent inability to cope with the alphabetized system used in CD / DVD shops (where’s the effing search box?) but plainly the malaise is worse than I thought.

The rise of the machines has begun. They are prising us away from the real world one pinkie at a time and are wrapping us up warm and snug in little individual technospheres of automation and one-click ordering.

The game is up. Or rather it has just begun. And what can any of us do but be on permanent stand-by...


Oh no!


Steve said...

And as if to confirm:

We're all doomed, I tell you. Doomed!

The Sagittarian said...

Oh, am I first? really? I don't believe it!!
Anyway, I digress. I'm sorry Steve, but I beg to differ. There is a "self check out lane" (an odd title to start with really....) at one of our local corrals of misery, however I refuse to use it. We don't get our goods any cheaper and we have done someone out of a job more importantly. In these days I can't bring myself to do it. I sympathise with your reasoning, I hate queues as much as the next guy but I am still a tad archaic and haven't got to internet banking yet....power to the (little) people!

Steve said...

You are indeed the first! Congratulations. A small trophy of my esteem is already winging its way to you across the vast ocean (virtually, of course)!

You make a good point and we have those self-checkout things here in the UK too. I also refuse to use them as (a) they turn customers into mindless factory workers (b) as you say they do someone out of a job (whereas shopping online actually creates a number of jobs - the guy who does the shopping for you, the guy who packs it, the guy who delivers it - though it could even be a guy-ess of course) and (c) I'm totally frit of them and don't trust them. Though I suppose it could be (d) I'm just lazy and don't want to get repetitive strain syndrome.

Brother Tobias said...

I'm tempted by the on-line approach. Except that if it weren't for my weekly trip to Lidls I wouldn't get out at all. It's my equivalent of a round of golf. I have affairs with supermarket trolleys (just give them the money and they're yours for as long as you want). Trouble is, the stores are getting busier. Behind every woman there's now a grumpy old man saying, "This one's only 35p per 100 grams, which is 4p cheaper than the own brand even with the bogoff..."

Steve said...

Brother T, it is indeed like a round of golf. As Mr Wilde himself once said: "a good walk ruined...!" As for having an affair with a supermarket trolley... I always get the one with the gammy wheel and the greasy handle. I feel so unclean afterwards and the trolley always gives me a reproachful stare when I slam it back into the trolley park.

justme said...

Hmmmm. I find supermarkets rather soothing, but maybe that's because I usually shop when it is quiet and there are no queues? Besides, I always think that the people picking the shopping for you will NOT rummage at the back of the yogurts for the later sell by dates....
I do buy most of my books, dvds, and various other stuff on line though. I like a constant stream of small parcels arriving at the house. It cheers me up!

Steve said...

I know what you mean about the addiction to small parcels arriving. I'm the same. There's something infinitely cheery about having a parcel arrive for you. A letter isn't the same - it can always be a bill. But a parcel is always nice. Unless it's ticking. And smells of semtex.

skatey katie said...

how much does it cost for delivery?
when online supermarket shopping first arrived here it was tempting, except for the $25 delivery fee.
i had four kids and a bun in the oven then and was really really tempted. until my gorgeous girlfriend offered to take my list and get my shopping for me when she got hers.
now that's love.

it's a weird thing now that the kids are at school and i can negotiate the aisles without all the voices in my ear asking if we shall get this on special or that on special.
actually my kids are at the age where they each take a trolley and i rip up the list into kid-sized pieces and they go for gold.
and it doesn't cost me anything for delivery. oh maybe a few extra packets of chippies/crisps (on special, mum)
blah blah
you and karen could've drunk three cups of tea each in the time it took me to blat out all that X

Steve said...

Skatey Katie: what makes you think we didn't?! He he he!

Over here it costs us £5 for delivery which isn't too bad. But I'd be happy for your girlfriend to do the job is she's up for it. I suspect it might be a long drive though... your idea re: the kids is brilliant. Once Tom is old enough we may give that a go. Cheers Genius!

KAZ said...

Since the internet - I have lost the ability write a letter, use a dictionary or a telephone directory and even speak on the phone.

Steve said...

Kaz, have there been any negative side-effects?

justme said...


Anonymous said...

I have everything delivered from a co-op these days, but back in the day when I had 3 kids under 5 a trip to the supermarket was 'something to do'!
When they got a bit bigger and it became such a chore, I did something similar to Skatey Katie, I made little cards with pictures on of milk, cheese etc and sent them in all directions to find stuff, it was especially fun when any of them had those shoes that play songs.;)

Steve said...

Glad it tickled you, Justme!

Missbehaving, I like the picture idea very much - it means I can get Tom started much earlier as opposed to waiting until he can read! ;-)

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you have them over there, but in the old days when I got a newspaper, we got these leaflets in them for everything from home centres to supermarkets to estate agents listings.
I cut the supermarket pix out and stuck them on cards, that way, with milk and stuff, they could get the right brand.
Didn't want them running back with sub-standard gin for God's sake :)

Steve said...

Good point, Missbehaving... now where did I put that wine catalogue?! ;-)