Trials and tribulations of a designated shopper

Star Media editor in chief Barry Clarke ends his lockdown message in a bubble column.

Well we're almost out of lockdown and alert level 4, and on Tuesday the cage door will be slightly open.

The weeks have flashed by. Hopefully soon the supermarket will no longer be the place to have a social outing.

I've been our bubble's designated shopper, a task I don't mind too much.

I am one of those masked and gloved shoppers. I will be until the Covid threat disappears.

I've stuck to the rules: Take a list, find the item, make a visual decision, pick it up and put it in the trolley. No persisting about and putting it back on the shelf and going for the one next to it.

But being the designated shopper does bring with it some frustration - like finding things you are not used to having to look for. I'm talking about baking ingredients.

The better haIf is the one who usually grabs this stuff but she has stayed in the bubble while I've gone to the supermarket.

So over the past weeks I've regularly had to make the phone call: "They haven't got any yeast you want. Will this brand do?"... "What kind of chocolate chips do you want?"..."I can't find any curry powder, looks like it's sold out".... and so on.

The better half has been very understanding: "Just do your best."

But I can't say the understanding word applies to some supermarket staff when it comes to a designated shopper like myself.

"Where would I find brown sugar and caster sugar,?" I once politely asked. "Down that end," came the hostile reply.

"Wow, she's not happy," I thought.

I then asked: "I'm also looking for chocolate chips." "Right in front of you," she bounced back at me.

Other inquiries led to "I'm not sure, someone else might know." No sorry, politeness, etc.

The trickiest item I've had to find was chia seeds. I initially asked three staff, one tried without success, the other two weren't interested. I had a feeling they didn't know what I was talking about.

But I was on a mission and I wasn't going to give up. I tried a fourth time and this person was a delight. Helpful and talkative and she led to me to racks of them.

"Busy?," I asked.

"We sure are, we are spending most of our time filling orders for online shoppers."

Traditional shoppers like myself have no chance of getting the in-store help we need.









Local trusted journalism matters - now more than ever

As the Covid-19 pandemic brings the world into uncharted waters, Star Media journalists and photographers continue to report local stories that matter everyday - yours.

For more than 152 years our journalists have provided Cantabrians with local news that can be trusted. It’s more important now than ever to keep Cantabrians connected.

As our advertising has fallen during the pandemic, support from you our reader is crucial.

You can help us continue to provide local news you can trust simply by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter