You know that supermarkets are machines designed quite brilliantly to get you to spend the most in the quickest time. I think about this so much that I must’ve bored you with it already but next time you’re in a supermarket, just take a look at the people who are walking in at the same time as you.
We all think we’re individuals and that we’re going in there to get one little thing or to work our long shopping list, but we’re not. For the people who went in with you are always the people who will be leaving at the same time. We’ve been moved around that supermarket and spat out when we’ve spent as much as we’re going to.
As sure as the most expensive items are on the shelves at the eye level of the average customer, this is true of every supermarket and everybody.
What I’ve just come to notice is that there are also shifts. Certain types of people shop at certain times. Now that I’ve seen it, it’s obvious: a parent who isn’t working is reasonably likely to shop just before the afternoon school run. A parent who is working is likely to shop late evening. As I’m both freelance and disorganised, I have the ability and the impetus to shop at more random times than most.
Which is why I’ve seen this.
I’ve seen that there are times when every customer in the store is beautiful. Women, men, kids, all gleaming teeth, tight and tanned skin, slim, expensively clothed and spending a lot of time in aisle 9’s health food section. And there are times when every customer in the store is the opposite: older, poorer, frankly a bit ugly and spending time in the own-brand section.
Again, you can imagine reasons for this. The poor and ugly come in at the time when the bread is about to be discounted. The rich and beautiful come in on their way to playing squash at their club.
It’s the division that shocks me: not only have I noticed such a marked difference but I’ve seen the line. Once I forgot something from the start of my shopping list and cut back through to the ordinary people in time to see a wave of shiny teeth coming in.
I slipped by them, picked up my curry and hurried back to join my people.