Saturday, August 04, 2007

Not-unpleasant Tesco trip

I had no food in the house.

Okay, that's not true. I had no food in the house that wasn't in a dried state that required an overnight soaking before cooking, additional ingredients to make it palatable or a time machine to make it edible.

It's been a busy week. I've been catching up at work on some projects that I've put off, I've been trying to get a dent into a Cuba research paper that I have been half-heartedly working on since I got back from the states, and I have been working on my resume. Last night when I left work I meant to go to the grocery store, but I would have had to put gas in the car and there was a big line at the BP and I had to pee and it all conspired into coming home and walking to the local centre to get some Chinese food for dinner.

So. I woke up this morning, hungry and in need of caffeine, but the milk in the fridge had gone past sour to cheese. I could have walked to the One Stop for some sub-standard provisions, but I decided it was early enough that I could brave Tesco and maybe avoid the crowds. Waitrose and Sainsbury's in Central MK are only acceptable early on Sundays or after work, as the shopping mall across the street draws unbearable crowds.

I have two Tesco choices. There is the big Tesco in Kingston, which has unending amounts of food and household goods and a cart escalator to electronics and appliances and clothing. I prefer this Tesco because they also have a health-food store and there's a Costa near the door for a quick latte and there's an M&S in the same complex so I can stop for a few posh groceries, as well. But the downside of this one is that it is always a stinking mess in the parking lot...and I couldn't deal with it this morning. Driving before coffee is risky enough.

The OTHER Tesco option is Wolverton. It's smaller and more manageable, but is one of the scariest places I've been. The store itself isn't's the clientele that creep me out. I play a game when I go there, wherein I try to find one normal looking person anywhere on the premises. I usually lose. I have never seen such an array of missing teeth, close-set/uneven eyes, neckchins, bald women, bad skin and knuckle-dragging YOBs with their shiny chav girlfriends in clothes two sizes too small. And it's not just me being judgemental...I've shared this game with friends who shop there on occassion, and they lose, too. This place is the freak show of grocery stores.

WELL. Today I discovered that it is not actually the store that's the problem, it's when I go shopping that causes trouble. See, usually I go in the late afternoon when I'm coming home from lectures or have spent the day doing stuff around the house. But at 930 on a Saturday morning, the place is jam-packed with normal people, Audis and Beamers and Land Rovers in the car park and well-behaved children staying close to their parents. Seems the people from the quaint villages make early trips in for food, the yuppies who live in the executive housing down the street are running errands, and the mutants I'm used to seeing are still home in bed sleeping off the 25 pints they were necking the night before. Even the staff seemed more friendly and efficient. Perhaps this is the coveted shift for which the experienced staff beg. There were no screaming babies, there were no long queues, and there was an excellent selection of produce. I had to abandon my game before I even got in the store. Amazing, I tell you. Amazing.

I was in and out in half an hour, no one bumped into me, people apologised for blocking shelves or aisles and the nice young man helped bag my groceries without even asking.

I'm in a bit of shock. And I made a delicious breakfast of veggie sausages, soft-boiled eggs and toast with a side of V8 and very strong coffee. This was not at all what I expected.

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