So yesterday after yet another day sitting in a training room, I steeled myself for the role of supervising pensioner shopping. On arrival at her house we had to do the 'pre-flight' checks, reading glasses, check, shopping list, check, purse, check, toilet... several minutes later, check, cardigan, check, oh come on it was only 25 degrees outside. So after much manouvering she was safely belted into the car and we were on our way.
"Are you sure you don't mind taking me, you've been at work all day?" Mrs Beeton ventured as we backed out of the drive.
"No, no it's fine," I reassured her.
"I don't mind if you want to go another time, I don't want to put you out,"
"No it's ok honestly,"
"Are you sure?"
There was a silence for a few moments.
"We always liked to go mid afternoon, that's when you get the best bargains. Everyone will have gone from work now and they'll have got there first," she announced. Have I mentioned that Mrs Beeton likes to get her own way!
"Well unfortunately I can't take you during the afternoon. I'm sure they won't have run out of milk or bread, or anything else on your list." I reassured her.
"I need dog food,"
"You don't have a dog!"
"No but I like to have some in. Just in case."
At this point I decided that my mind would be better utilised concentrating on the rush hour traffic. Pulling into the supermarket car park my heart sank. There were obviously a lot of people doing their shopping. This meant that we would have to park some distance from the door. We would have a bit of walk. Mrs Beeton has two speeds when walking, doddery old lady, and infuriatingly slow old lady. Today she chose the later. By the time we reached the trolley pick up there was a traffic jam as far as the main road.
Mrs Beeton stood to one side waiting for me to bring her a trolley. Having taken care to select one that had all four wheels in tact and pointing in the same direction I handed it over to her. Now I don't know about anyone else, but I remember when certain supermarkets used to provide miniature trolleys that had huge poles with brightly coloured flags on them, for children. The flags warned other shoppers to watch out for them. Well I suggest the same rule be applied to pensioners when given charge of trolleys, in particular Mrs Beeton. So several deep breathing exercises later we entered the affray.
By the end of the first aisle, she had managed to cripple two people and left them hopping for cover, and place half of the items she had selected into several 'unattended' trolleys, none of which were hers, with me in stealth mode attempting to retrieve the items before the trolley owners were any the wiser. I did unfortunately get rumbled on the last occasion much to the chagrin of the aforementioned owner, who happened to be a burly six foot chap with tattoos covering most of his exposed arms. After withering under his glare, I hot footed it to the bakery section. Too late, Mrs Beeton was up to her waist in Warburtons finest. Loaves littered the floor, other shoppers could only stare in disbelief as the store assistants frantically tried to clear a path for the sweet little old dear now ploughing her way through them in the direction of the cake section, oblivious it would seem to the carnage she had just caused.
After several attempts to wrestle the trolley from her grasp, without success, I decided I had, had enough and so I headed to the book section for some respite. I had barely had time to read the blurb on a couple of jackets before a tannoy announcement tore my thoughts back into focus.
"Clean up required in aisle's 3, 5, and 8... just a minute, make that 10 as well."
Hesitantly I emmerged from my refuge and went in search of Mrs Beeton. I didn't have to look far as another casualty hopped into view from the direction of the freezer aisle. As I passed aisle 10 the clean up party was in full swing, an entire centre display of cream cakes now lay battered under an upturned table. I finally caught up with Mrs Beeton as she was being escorted to the checkout by the store manager and a security guard. For one moment I thought about escaping and running for the car, unfortunately the sight of her looking rather flustered and not a bit peeked at the indignity of being 'helped' out made me change my mind. Several more 'sorrys' and a promise not to leave her unattended or to let her push the trolley in future secured our re-admission for our next senior shopping trip. Oh goody I can't wait.