I’m trying to reintegrate into society and be like ‘normal’ people after being out of action for a few years. So last weekend W and I did what everyone else did. We sat in a traffic jam for half an hour, then queued for 10 minutes to get into a multi storey car park which was full so had a 1 in, 1 out policy. Played ‘hunt the free spot’ on multiple levels and then squeezed into a tiny lift that smelled of wee to get into the shopping centre.
As someone who’s weak and socially anxious, walking through a packed shopping centre on a Saturday afternoon wasn’t one of our best ideas. I also learned that shopping centre escalators are smaller than London Underground ones and people pack onto them just as much. So for an agonising 90 seconds my head was centimetres away from a tall guy’s crotch. Enough to make any oxygen deprived person want to faint. I had a vision of collapsing and making everyone behind me on the escalator fall like dominoes. I was tempted to deliberately try it to A) get away from the crotch and B) to see what would happen. I didn’t, because I’m trying to reintegrate into society and be normal.
Once we got to the supermarket, I was faced with the depressing realisation that most of the isles had nothing I could eat. The bread isle? Nope. The milk isle? Nope. Cheese? Nope. Fizzy drinks? Nope. Cereal? Nope. Chocolate? Nope. A lot of the fruit was out. Some of the meat was out, and I didn’t even let myself look at the alcohol section. I was very thankful for my extreme short sightedness and stubborn refusal to wear glasses. I vaguely knew the dark green and murky brown bottles were booze, enough to not walk any closer, but not enough to recognise any particular favourites.
My favourite pizza was on special offer. Wheat, gluten, yeast, and cheese. Bugger. Hot cross buns were on offer. I had an instant recollection of what a toasted bun with liberally applied butter tastes like. It was calling me. ‘Eat me! You’ll like me. I’ll be warm and buttery and yummy, go on….’ Yes Mr Hot Cross Bun. You will be yummy. But an hour or two after consuming your carby fatty sugary goodness, I’ll be full of regret, self loathing and inflamed twisted intestines.
Meat! A whole isle full of dead animals that I can eat without fear. Or so I thought. The other day I ate a Polish sausage and had stomach cramps for hours. I then read the packet and it said ‘may contain traces of milk’. It could’ve been that, or it could’ve been the mustard, or any of the other 5 or so ingredients I’m not sure about. Meat with breadcrumbs, out. Meat with cheese, out. I just stuck to the basic plain beef mince. Although after last year’s horse meat scandal it was probably horse, or squirrel or seagull. But as long as it doesn’t contain one of my no-nos, it’s all good by me.
I had a quick look to see if milk free cheese existed but it didn’t. Only lactose free cheese which helpfully said in capital letters CONTAINS MILK.
After arguing with the self service checkout and coming up with the witty retort to the familiar ‘unexpected item in the bagging area’ YEAH, MY FIST, I walked back through crowds to the car park.
Let me now explain to you the very complicated parking payment system employed by this one car park that we ever so slightly failed to understand. It costs £1.20 to park, if you spend £5 in the supermarket adjacent, you don’t have to pay for parking. So as instructed, we handed over the car parking ticket at the till to make sure we didn’t have to pay the car parking charge. It was only when we were at the barrier to get out, that we realised that in fact, the £1.20 was taken off the shopping bill, you still had to pay the car parking charge at the payment machine, a good 100 metres away. A queue was forming behind us, the car had no where to go except through the closed barrier. Personally I was all for revving it with the hand break on, releasing the break and zooming off breaking the barrier, like in cool action films. W was less impressed by this idea to save £1.20. The alternative was for one of us to run back to pay the smegging £1.20 at the machine. Obviously I couldn’t be running anywhere, and the next delightful realisation was that the machine that takes the ticket was blocking W’s drivers door. So I got out, W did a very gymnastic shimmy across the gear stick and handbreak, and got out of my side. All in front of a long line of cross looking drivers. I got back in, sunk down into my seat and pretended not to be there. She ran there and back and we drove off quite speedily.
So yeah, reintegrating into society is going swimmingly. 😀