We've already mentioned this week that we live in strange times. These days we queue outside the supermarket, rather than inside. The 2 metre spaces are clearly marked out with police murder tape and the aisles are semi-full of people who look more like forensic pathologists than your average Joe nipping down Aldi for a 6 pack. There are new rules in place for shopping excursions. Let's discuss.
The first rule is that you have to queue to get in and at the local Aldi/ Sainsers/ Tesco/ whatevs, the person manning the button that opens the door has taken on the persona of a doorman at a VERY select bar or club. It's important to note that this person has REAL POWER. Waiting in the queue, there is a feeling of tension not unlike when you were 16 with no ID and you were next in the queue at the local Yate's Wine Lodge. When the button is pressed, there is a feeling of relief that today isn't the day you have to slink off red-faced because you only came yesterday. Respect the button-pusher.
The next rule is that you are only allowed to shop for essential items. People don't like it when you get to the till and the only thing in your basket is 4 bottles of wine (they haven't lifted the restriction on that yet). There is a trick to this though - people are far less judgemental if you pop a box of super-plus tampons and some extra padded sanitary towels in there as well. All of a sudden, your shopping IS essential and the wine is what's keeping you and your erratic female hormones stable.
Rule number three is that while in the store, you have to keep a 2 metre distance from others, which necessitates a funny sort of run-walk shuffle to get past each other quickly, while not appearing rude - this is where the shy, apologetic smile comes in. Where space isn't immediately achieveable, you can see your fellow shoppers' panic, followed by a sudden intake of breath and an exaggerated leap into the 'Special Buys' aisle to get some personal space. And here is another interesting tip if it's getting crowded - Special Buys aisles are empty because no one is buying them. Browsing is illegal and Special Buys have, all of a sudden, become frivolous. No-one wants to be seen with a bag of compost, a water filter and the latest Kevin the Carrot at the checkout. Be warned.
Which brings us to the fourth rule, governing The Checkouts, which are now places of judgement, where your shopping is assessed for its needfulness and you are judged on your moral compass or lack thereof. Whatever you do, do not approach a checkout with a box of beer, a 4 pack of burgers, buns and some cheese slices. It's likely that someone will photograph you AND your unnecessary shopping items, and shame you all over social media for putting everyone's lives in danger AND wantonly BBQing when SOME people don't even have a garden. Don't be selfish.
Lastly, thou shall ONLY transfer items back into your trolley or basket and then pack them into a bag at the packing shelf. Even if you didn't have a basket to begin with. If you do not have a basket, you will be forced to move within someone else's 2 metre allowance to get one, before manhandling your shopping into it, moving over to a slightly-more-crowded-than-it-needs-to-be packing shelf and removing your items from the basket back to the shopping bag, thereby unnecessarily touching myriad mucky surfaces. It doesn't matter if this makes no sense - do not challenge the cashier - today's cashier is tomorrow's button pusher.
I for one can't wait for the old days to return, when you could nip into the supermarket for a can of coke and a scrap over who gets the last Kevin the Carrot.
Until then, we're waiting, we're resting and we're following the rules. So should you.