Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

A trip to the supermarket

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I know everybody’s expecting a free horror/adventure short story or something, because, you know, Halloween and all that but, truth to be told, I’ve been feeling damn lazy these last few days, and also, today I took a trip to the supermarket to buy provisions for the next few weeks, because there’s a new lockdown looming.

And it was not a proper horror or adventure, but for certain it did exacerbate my already tired feelings for humanity.
So I thought I’d jot down a few anthropological notes, for your general enjoyment…

I went to Lidl. Yeah, I know, cheap.
There’s a few people I know that wouldn’t be caught dead in a Lidl supermarket, and my late father was one of those. Only foreigners went to Lidl, in his opinion. Immigrants.
Small-time bigotry is something that often disappoints us in our parents, isn’t it?

I thought about my dad as I was loading my big pile of supplies on the counter, because there were two young women queuing behind me, and they were chuckling and say very unpleasant things about these “east-European bums” that buy a lot of food and stuff.
Yeah, that was me.
Wearing a mask doesn’t help, in these circumstances.
Bear of a man, casually dressed, buying a lot of food?
Must be some kind of foreigner getting ready to load up his camels and go back to Bucharest or Petropavlovsk or whatever.
They were very unpleasant.
I am always happy, in these circumstances, that I learned enough Piedmontese dialect from my parents to be able to tell them to mind their manners and fuck off in the local lingo.
Not that they appreciate it in the least.

Then there is the strange fauna that roams the stalls.

  • The family outing – father, mother, four kids between ten and five, in single file behind the trolley, father thumbing his smartphone, mother occasionally screeching about where’s one of their little ones.
  • The museum goer – first time in a supermarket, he slowly wanders the aisles with wide-eyed wonder at the extraordinary things on display. He’ll stop pondering the deeper meaning of bacon just as you’re trying to buy some bacon for yourself.
  • The fun guys – there’s seven of them, queuing at the cash counter. Seven of them. Friends. Chatting. Seven of them. Each one carries his own six-pack of beers. Seven. Seven separate check-outs. At least two of them pay with a cash card.
  • The committee for strategic operations – there’s three of them. They have printouts of the shopping list and actual frigging photos of the stuff they need to buy. Not a supermarket flyer, not a torn notbook page with a scrawled list. Print-outs. They have spread their papers on one of the grocery counters, and are discussing the best way to take the raspberry muffins by surprise.
  • The mere executor – he’s standing in front of a shelf, talking into a smartphone, describing the style and color of every box of soap available. “Yes, I know it’s called Zapp!, but the box is blue, not green–”
  • In the end he just takes a photo of the shelf and sends it back to his… wife? Mother? Fiancee? Landlady?
  • The two office girls – one of them is thinking about going fruitarian, the other has just bought a huge pack of chips and a 2 litres bottle of a fizzy soft drink and is ruminating a chewing-gum. Then they spot the guy in front of them… big, a lot of stuff in his cart… must be a bloody foreigner. They start mocking him thinking he does not understand.

It was a little adventure.
A lot of stuff was not available – just like during the first lockdown, flour, sugar, frozen burgers and eggs are gone.
Italians in time of crisis revert to their grandfathers wartime mentality.
And their bigotry.

So no, no horror story for Halloween, this year.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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