Josna Rege

332. Lost in the Supermarket

In 2010s, Britain, Food, Music, Stories, United States on May 22, 2015 at 10:20 pm
London Calling, 1979

London Calling, 1979

I save coupons from packets of tea
                                    Lost in the Supermarket (The Clash)

It was several days ago already when Migmar told me Lipton’s tea bags were on sale at Stop’nShop, but I hadn’t got myself there yet. This evening she said the sale was probably over by now, but I went anyway, found it still going, and picked up two boxes, at a savings of $1.30 per box. Whoop-de-doo.

At the checkout I headed for the “12 items or less” line (yes, I know it ought to be “12 items or fewer,” I’m an English teacher, but who else cares?) and got into one of those automated checkouts by mistake. Normally I avoid them like the plague on account of them putting people out of work, but it was the eve of Memorial Day Weekend and there were impossibly long lines at all the checkout counters staffed by a human bean.

As it was processing my penultimate item, the machine froze up on me. I called for help, but the help couldn’t fix it, so he called for help. She couldn’t fix it either, so she voided the whole thing and I started over, in a new line, another automated one. Why? Why? This second one worked, but the thing rang up only $0.80 savings per box for my Lipton’s Tea, ripping me off to the tune of $0.50 x 2.

Half an hour into my supermarket odyssey, and still no joy. In line again, this time at the Service counter, where hapless souls cast away their hard-earned money on raffle tickets in hopes of winning the lottery. There was a gentle young man behind the counter. I explained, he listened, he commiserated, said Yes, he too steered clear of those automated checkouts and far preferred dealing with human beans, even agreed with (or humored) me when I said that, furthermore, I didn’t want people losing jobs to machines. Though he did venture to add that it rather looked like the wave of the future.

We chatted some more—about English supermarkets and whether their even more advanced state of automation was better or worse—and then, because it was their mistake, and their policy, he gave me the first box of tea absolutely free and the second box at the proper sale price. Triumph! An hour later and about a hundred years older, I could finally bear home my two boxes of Lipton’s Tea at a whopping savings of $2.79 per box.

Here I sit, grading papers again, and I don’t care if I never see another Lipton tea bag as long as I live.

You don’t know
You don’t know my mind.
If you see me laughin’
I’m laughin’ just to keep from cryin’
                You Don’t Know My Mind (Odetta)

Tell Me Another (Contents to Date)

Chronological Table of Contents

  1. We used to buy Lipton but read that it was somehow on a boycott list. I don’t fully remember which one? Monsanto? I don’t like the humanless checkouts either.

    • Uh-oh. I will check into it, Kristin. At home I use loose tea, Darjeeling and Assam, but at my parents’ we use the Lipton’s. Will let you know what I find out.

      • Ugh, you’re right, Kristin. It’s a Monsanto product. No more Lipton’s! I hear Barry’s tea bags (Irish, available in the U.S.) are pretty good–will check into them.
        Thanks for letting me know.

  2. Funny how my list of things I won’t buy just keeps getting longer!
    By the way, Odetta is one of my most favorite singers of all time. That song is a great one!
    What a wonderful lady she was! Wish I could have seen her in person.
    I still think Stash is the best if one has to buy tea in bags.

    Next time someone goes to Shillong I will ask them to bring you a bag of Sharawn tea,
    It seems they took starts from Darjeeling bushes and grew them in a place up in the hills
    outside of Shillong and the new tea garden has finally come into it’s own. It tastes like a
    mix of Darj and Assam, but really fresh! Amazing what different soil can do!

    • Yes, wasn’t she wonderful, Marianne? Our a cappella group, The Noonday Singers, had the honor of opening for her at a concert in Spring 1994 on the eve of the first free elections in post-apartheid South Africa. That was a real thrill. She even sang one song with us. Then she came to Dartmouth, in 2003 I think it was, and I got to see her again.

      You have mentioned that Shillong “Darjeeling” tea and I think I may have tasted–and liked it–once when I visited you. I’d love to try it again. Sad to think that the Darjeeling soil is getting played out.

      x J

  3. You will be encouraged to hear, Josna, that the English automated checkouts are no better – and that I have had several frothing-at-the-mouth moments trying to use them. I have specifically stated, here in Outer Hamlet, that we have no opportunity to complain – in writing – about them (there are no feedback cards). And I have also said that, as one who lives alone, I look forward to what may be my only human interaction of the day – at a person-operated checkout.
    This whole subject just about causes smoke to emerge from my nostrils/ears and I think it is only the fact that I am presently woofling cake in a café that is saving my blood pressure from soaring a hundred points higher!

    • E, I love the image of you relieving your righteous wrath by woofing cake. Yes, we need more, not less human interactions. Nice to know we’re frothing at the mouth and smoking at the nostrils/ears together. By all means, keep that BP down!

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