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Friday 9th April 2004

I did some grocery shopping at Hammersmith Sainsbury's Local tonight. It isn't my local Sainsbury's Local - Shepherd's Bush Sainsbury's Local is my local Sainsbury's Local - but no-one seemed to be on the door checking people's addresses and ejecting shoppers who were fraudulently using this Sainsbury's Local when they in fact had a more local Sainsbury's Local, so I carried on regardless. I think it's a bit of a shame that people are allowed to abuse the system so flagrantly, but it appears that Sainsbury's are more interested in making money than in maintaining the integrity of their local shops.
The store had an offer on yoghurts: if you bought four youghurts then you got some money off. I took advantage of this generous offer and put four yoghurts in my basket. Four yoghurts is not an excessive number and no-one could possibly question it at the check-out, especially as there was an offer on, so I felt safe.
I was painfully aware though that at that moment my basket contained nothing but yoghurts and if anyone who reads my diary happened to spot me at this point, they would see my basket of yoghurts and I would look ridiculous. All my previous claims that I was not obsessed with yoghurts would have been for nought and I would look even more obsessed with yoghurts than anyone had previously imagined. Such is my curse.
So I quickly bought a few other things as well.
I took the opportunity to stock up on some booze. I was planning to stay in and watch TV and eat a curry, so I got myself one large beer to drink tonight. I don't usually drink on my own, but I just fancied a beer. I also have a couple of holiday things to go to this weekend, so I bought a couple of bottles of wine to take along to these. On top of that I remembered that I was out of vodka. Now I don't often drink vodka at home, in fact I'd got a bottle last year on one of my trips abroad and it had sat unopened in my freezer until my New Year's party, where someone discovered it and that was the end of that. I haven't had any vodka in the house for over three months. So I thought I'd get some, so it would be there if I had guests over. It would also help hide those yoghurts at the bottom of my basket. No-one was going to accuse me of liking yoghurts tonight.
So I don't know what it is about the check-out staff at Sainsbury's Locals. Perhaps they are sent on a training course to teach them how to make inappropriate and intrusive comments about people's purchases, or maybe Sainsbury's have a policy of employing the mentally ill for their Local stores (it makes the shops appear more local if they are staffed by weirdos, just like any normal local shop).
Whatever the reason, once again I had a check-out person who was intent on making comments about my purchases.
"What a lot of drink!" said the man as he scanned my purchases.
"Just stocking up for the weekend," I said smiling.
"Having a party?" he asked.
Now I'm not having a party and I'm not sure how good a party it would be with one bottle of vodka, two bottles of wine and one bottle of beer, but I was feeling self-conscious enough already due to my crapulous plans to have one whole beer on my own, and felt the need to lie that I was having some friends over.
If the man had just shut up and done his job I would not have had to lie, but suddenly I was feeling that I had something to cover up. And being deceitful about my alcohol purchases made me feel even more like some kind of clandestine alcoholic, who was unable to wait to get home and mix himself a bizarre vodka/wine/beer cocktail.
I was unsettled. I wished I'd just put the yoghurts up front and been honest about it. Now he was going to get to the four yoghurts at the end and think I was not just a dipsomaniac, but also the kind of person who bathed in his own yoghurt before licking himself clean like a drunken yoghurt-obsessed cat.
Which I'm not.
After he'd scanned a few items he said, "How much do you think this is all going to cost you?"
"I don't know," I replied.
"What do you think you're up to now? Hundreds?"
"No, about fifty pounds, I suppose," I said, taking into account the fact that the vodka was £18.
"It's sixty," he told me, with wide-eyed disbelief. I didn't think this was necessarily the best way to promote his store, being astonished about how expensive it was.
"I know and I was only coming in for a few bits and pieces," I told him.
"That's the thing with supermarkets. You come in planning to spend about two pounds, but then you end up spending twenty."
Why was he saying this? Was he some kind of infiltrator trying to destroy Sainsbury's from within.
"That's how you make your money though isn't it?" I commented.
"It's not my money. I don't make the money."
"No, I mean Mr Sainsbury. They get you in here and you end up buying stuff that you hadn't planned to buy...." I was going to explain that this is why I'd ended up getting the vodka and also the yoghurts, but then he saw another employee standing nearby looking at him in a disapproving manner.
"I'd better shut up," he said, "that's my manager."
What, and your manager doesn't like you openly criticising the basic ethos of the shop? How strange.
As I left, he looked me in they eye and said "Have a good weekend," and I could see that he knew that I was going home alone to drink myself into a stupor so I could do the cat-yoghurt thing without any inhibitions. He also could probably tell that I wasn't local.
He was the wise fool. He saw everything. And like a fool was unable to keep it to himself.
If I ever venture down to those foreign climes of Hammersmith again and dare to step foot in a Sainsbury's Local that isn't actually my local then I am sure I will see him, sitting at his till, smiling happily to himself, saying nothing, with a big scar across his forehead.
Mr Sainsbury does not like trouble-makers. He will not tolerate the truth being spoken in his stores.

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