I have a dangerous mission ahead, of 007 proportions…………..fortunately, after a couple of years of trial and error I now believe I have a foolproof plan in place. The mission?…….. I’m heading to Carrefour for a big shop !
I know it’s only a supermarket but safety Precautions need to be taken. I have spent the morning rummaging through my husbands collection of shin pads, knee braces, ankle straps and elbow supports, (no he’s not kinky he plays rugby) I did consider the scrum cap but it wasn’t that flattering and even I think that may be a step too far.
The reason I need this protective armour kit is to ensure that I return unscathed from the trolly wars battle. This is no ordinary supermarket, oh no, nor are you simply battling against the trolly, there are thousands of other shoppers to contend with, all of whom appear to have decided I am fair game for a bit of elbow digging, ankle crushing, toe stomping and other forms of torture that even Jason Bourne didn’t have to contend with.
The problems start with the trolly selection, obviously this is a common complaint worldwide, four wheels is always a good start point, you may laugh but this is not always an option that’s available. I also tend to go for the larger sized trollys not that I require it’s capacity but rather so it can act as a battering ram, unfortunately none are available with airbags just yet, maybe a patent pending!
Now the first aisle is easy it’s reserved for the special offers and is considerably wider than the rest but what do they do with all that cooking oil? It fascinates me to see buckets of it in everyones trolly, do they fry everything? On reflection I had fried cucumber yesterday and very tasty too, maybe I’ve been here too long.
Mum always taught me never to buy damaged tins, something about the metal rusting and infecting the contents, or something like that. Well I don’t know if there is a chain gang in the back store running a production line to create the dents but a “perfect” tin is pretty hard to find. So I just make do with the dented variety but I do draw the line and avoid the ones without labels.
The” free for all “section is the fruit and veg, and it’s here that the safety gear comes into play. Psyche your self up, bags in hand and head to the weigh in counter. You see Egyptians don’t do queues, and if you hang back and hope some kindly soul will notice that you were in front of them and let you in well you could be there all day.
There is a knack to getting your produce weighed and it goes like this……….
- After selecting your produce and placing in individual bags DO NOT tie or fold the bags, leave them all open at the top to facilitate carrying all your bags in one hand
- With your free hand pull your trolly along BEHIND you as you shuffle and elbow your way to the front of the mob. ( this is where the elbow supports come in) If your trolly is in front you will never get close enough to the scales.
- DO NOT step back to allow someone out, someone will jump in in front of you, they will manage to squeeze out somehow.
- On reaching the counter place your first bag on the scale, the assistant now needs to fold the bag to attach the label in case you might be tempted to squeeze in an extra onion.
- Crucially this buys you enough time to place your second bag on the scale and remove bag number one which is dumped behind you into the trolly.
- Continue in this manor until all bags have been weighed. With this method no one can squeeze in with their bags as the scales are never empty….it works every time.
On to the checkout…..you must now be prepared to lose half of what you just spent the last hour looking for, why? Because the bar codes won’t work! Throughout Cairo there appears to a multitude of people doing very specific tasks. One person to pack your bags another one to carry them etc etc but there appears to be a massive shortage of bar code checkers, it is at this point I usually lose the will to live.
I have witnessed lots of very heated and loud confrontations, hands waving, kids screaming as mum/dad is shouting at the checkout operator “NO I really really do need this chilli powder, and it is not OK if you just set it to the side cos you can’t find some one to check the price. I want chilli con carne for dinner so SORT IT OUT.” if a bar code checker does become available I think they head back to the manufacturer directly as there is no way they could possibly navigate those aisles without the full body kit.
Ok…I am suited and booted and raring to go, all pads are in place, and I have my list. I even have my non-slip shoes on although they only work with limited effect around the fish section, the melted ice on the floor adds to the unique aroma that I now associate with complete and utter desperation ….wish me luck I’m off.