Supermarket shopping can be a very unstimulating experience when you’re a blindy. Ask me. I should know.
That’s probably because you miss out on the thrill of spotting specials or the excitement of discovering a new brand of instant sushi. In short, shopping at a supermarket is a sure-fire cure for blind insomniacs – a cure for their insomnia that is. Sometimes though, things happen that stop you from nodding off.
It’s like this. You can’t shop solo when you can’t see, not in a supermarket. I mean, you can’t go about fingering filets, squeezing aerosols, pressing papaws or bring the baked-bean display crashing down just because you want to find what you’re after. No, You’ve got to get help here.
So you organise with the store manager for someone to shepherd you around the shelves. But, who you get given is another thing. More often than not, it’s someone who is very willing to assist you. Whether they’re able to though, is another matter. For example, it may be that your unsizi battles a bit with English and your Zulu is somewhat scrappy. In my case, the corrupted Roodepoort accent doesn’t help either and my beard and mustache make it a bit tricky to read my lips.
All this can lead to small misunderstandings. For instance, bacon, as in pig, is heard as Baygon, as in insect poison. Stock, as in gravy essence, becomes Stork, as in margarine. Pepper, as in spice, turns into paper, as in toilet. For sure, if you’re not careful, you’re going to get a few shopping-bag surprises when you get home.
One time, I was after chicken thighs. We were standing at the fresh-meat fridges and I was slapping the top of my leg to indicate the portion I wanted. Now I’ve been accused of being an unadventurous eater, but, that night, as I stood in my kitchen, clutching a brace of horny chicken-feet in my trembling hands, I found myself at a loss as how to cook them and felt inclined to go out and get myself some takeaway sheep-brains.
And again, there was the time I needed cat pellets, for a couple of irritating felines I was looking after. “Is no cat pellets here,” My shop-umsizi tells me.
In disbelief, I fingered the packets on the shelf. He was right. But then I came across something which felt like miniature granules, made for kittens. That evening, I tipped a good helping of these into the bowls of the two hunger-crazed creatures in my care. But the fussy queens turned their noses up at the repast I’d provided. “Stuff you both,” I thought, and left them to wallow in their fastidiousness.
The next morning, I went and checked their bowls. They hadn’t touched their meals. I fingered the granules. Then, out of interest, I popped one into my mouth. It’s true. Cat litter tastes like, you know what.
But it’s often the partially blind who have the bloopiest shop-floor experiences. Now, if you shake a box of breakfast cereal next to your ear, you can tell if it’s got Cornflakes or Puffed Wheat in it. A partially blind friend of mine was doing exactly that on one of her solo shopping excursions when a man barrelled round the end of the aisle and, bearing down on her, shouted, “Don’t you bloody do that!” She froze in terror! The Corn Flakes clattered to the floor. You know what! People who yell like that on cell phones in supermarkets, ought to be shopped!
Some ‘partials’ should also be called to book though, for swanning into shops without explaining about their eye-thing. One such person I know was trying to find a particular building once, without success. So he went into what smelt like a chemist shop to ask for directions. He approached a white-coated figure and made his enquiry. No response. So he asked again, thinking he hadn’t been heard because of the general hubbub around them. Still no response! He leaned closer and repeated his question. He noticed then that the shop had fallen strangely silent. Then he realised, to his horror, that the person he’d been talking to was nothing less than a cardboard cut-out chemist! And what’s worse, it was holding out a tray of brightly coloured condoms!
And so, if, one day, you come across a blindy, curled up asleep inside a shopping trolley, or crying softly to himself beneath a pile of baked bean cans, remember… It might be me.