Food is a staple of human survival. No matter your gender, race, sexuality or nationality, one thing we can all agree on is that we need food. With food, comes shopping for food. This is where struggles arise.
Let me first say I enjoy grocery shopping more in Scotland than I do in the United States. This is primarily due to the fact that the store is about a quarter of the size, if that. I’ve been going to Hannaford since before I could walk and I still haven’t had the cognition to log what is in which aisle or where each aisle is located into my mental database. The bathroom is in the front, the dairy is back left, and the magazines are somewhere in the middle by the holiday candy, I think? If you told me to go find a box of rice, it would take at least a half hour.
Scotland has simplified the process. There are fewer brands, shorter shelves (you can see diagonally from one corner of the store to the other) and less variety. For the avid foodie this may sound less than ideal, but for the detached bloke whose mom used to do his shopping, it’s nothing short of a blessing.
The shopping carts are chained up outside to reduce shopping cart theft. I’m not sure whether that’s a thing in big American cities but we certainly don’t have that level of security at the Old Town Hannies. Then again, unless you live right across the street, it would be pretty tough trying to smuggle that thing back to Orchard Trails. People here can pay a pound for a cart and then they get the pound back once they return it after they’re done.
For those who don’t need a cart they have wheelie baskets, which are pretty nifty. They’re about knee height and have a long extending handle that makes them easy to tow. The baskets likely wouldn’t work for anyone who’s shopping for a family but for the single shopper, they’re perfect.
The snack section is where it really gets exotic, with products I couldn’t have dreamt of in my wildest dreams. Toasties, Rock Cakes, Syrup Biscuits, Perkins, Cheese Straws, Moray Firth Butter Biscuits, Cheese Butter Biscuits and Oatcakes to name a few. I believe it was the great William Wallace who once said, “They may take our lives, but they will never take our cheese straws.”
A grocery bagger apparently isn’t an occupation here, which would put a lot of high schoolers in the U.S. out of work. Instead, you bag your own groceries. My first time in line, I put my items on the conveyor belt and then methodically started putting them in bags. I quickly realized that my fellow shoppers had no time for methodical. I was getting death glares from the supermarket patrons behind me as the cashier gave me a look that said, “Hurry it up now, lad. Yer slower than shite, me Gran bags quicker than that.” As much enjoyment as I get out of angry Scotsmen, I know better than to mess with one, especially one who may have low blood sugar.
An afternoon trip to Lidl (the supermarket) beckons and so then does a hearty recovery dram of Johnnie Walker. Until next time, Black Bears.