The pace at which these checkout people scan items is hilarious and borderline wizardry, but unfortunately it is also unrealistic for newcomers like myself to keep up. Today I found myself in utter shock needlessly panicking, sweating and wondering whether the whole shop was watching my trembling body struggling to cope with the intense pressure placed upon my bagging skills. My body was buckling. Shutting down. And it was probably funny for the surrounding employees, customers and their children.
Items were building up everywhere. Hands were flapping, head was spinning, mouth was drying, a*se was sh*tting.
I had four bags at the ready - each awaiting suitably matched items to be placed into. In other words, a normal, stress-free, relaxing bagging experience. Not here. Nope. Utter carnage follows the beginner, like myself.
I packed the toothpaste without an issue, but within a blink of an eye, a pile of items taller than the Shard appeared before my astonished face. I became bewildered. Lost. Unable to move. Or think. Or plan. Or breathe. Cue internal meltdown. What the hell do I do here? How do I organise my bags with this mountain of carrots, baked beans and curly kale?
My mind was everywhere and my hands shook violently; I had no idea how to react to the escalating situation. Ringing the NHS 111 non-emergency number crossed my mind. Screaming for help was another. Items were being pushed against each other toward the end of the belt and in to the oblivion of the floor. It was a grocery mud-slide. And I was going to die amongst it all. My days were going to end by a packet of kitchen roll and some corned beef.
A bloodbath was happening inside my bags-for-life, and my brain for that matter- which felt like it was nearing the end of its life. The pressure felt so severe, items inside the bags were horrifically mixed without their usual bag-mate. I found myself having no other choice than being forced to chuck the parsnips in with the toilet roll. The mayonnaise was hurled in the same bag as the ibuprofen, crushing the weak and vulnerable brioche buns in the process. The bread was bullied in to the bottom of another bag, resulting in the loaf being squashed and killed in action by the carrots and cheaply priced duck breasts. And the milk was required to share a bag with mouthwash and garden bin-liners. Complete mayhem.
The funny thing about all of this was the fact it all came out of nowhere. Things started so calmly when I arrived at the checkout - keen to see what the price would be compared to other leading supermarkets.
There were no queues; the checkout lady looked bored. She had clearly mastered her trade by either guaranteeing the customer will never have to queue again by scanning at a Usain Bolt pace, or she had frightened them off and the customer had abandoned ship.
I began loading on to the conveyor - totally oblivious of the incoming storm, and as soon I placed half a dozen-or-so items on to it, I suddenly sensed some piercing eyes from the checkout lady. A surge in tension flew my way as she continued to watch me; she grew ever impatient at my loading ability. It was average, but her eyes intimidated me in to rushing my loading. My conveyor belt resembled one from the Generation Game - a complete random, mish-mash of items...no cuddly toy, though.
The fun then commenced... I was contemplating giving up and running away - leaving her with my trolley and daughter. I almost collapsed. But somehow managed to contain myself and remembered mindfulness meditation techniques to get me through stressful situations.
It worked. And I spent a record low amount of money on my weekly shop, nearly sacrificing my life in the process.