Public Market Static

Monday, August 02, 2010

Just to clarify to the girl readers, guys have no issues with doing the grocery shopping. It's just that we handle things differently. We like to treat grocery visits the way we would kidnappings. We prepare the details, we get in, we grab, and then we go directly to the cash transaction part. We do it as fast as possible, as though the shopping carts have been laced with depleted uranium that will cause our nuts to fall off if we stay near it long enough.

Anyway, yesterday after mass, my sisters decided to watch Salt. Me being tired of having to watch every movie I've seen this month at least twice, I begged off and just went to the grocery with my mom. Grocery, as a term, is being used loosely here. See, the groceries I grew up with are those tiny sarisari stores that you can walk into and every nook and cranny from underneath the shelves up to the ceiling overhangs are packed with goods. That's my definition of a Filipino grocery. SM Hypermart in MoA, hardly qualifies as a grocery. It has a food court, a drugstore, an appliance center, and a strategic missile lauch facility (probably) inside. They're probably selling everything there from canned tuna to submarine ballast tanks.

I think there are more aisles in that supermarket than the national library. And just to screw with you, the positioning of products changes every week so you have to spend possibly a quarter of your lifetime just looking for condensed milk. I thought I even saw some nice folks from the Spanish Occupation period, still wandering around looking for El Queso y Macaroni Real. I remember before, some of the staff there even wore inline skates just to get around. Inline skates. Inside a supermarket. I shit you not. Some things are just destined for sad endings.

Also worth mentioning is that yesterday was the first Sunday after payday, which for most people in this country is a sign to gather the whole family and purchase enough supplies to outlast a nuclear winter, or a Kapamilya Tribute special (I dont know which is longer). You'd see caravans of carts just lining up the cashier, which I swear could sometimes reach a tab equivalent to our government's current budget deficit. But at least in the payment counters, the carts are all lined up. Inside the mart, it's just utter chaos.

See, on the roads we have lanes, we have traffic lights, we have enforcers. God knows how sucky they can get around these parts of the world, but it's a system that works. Inside the SM Supermarket, we don't have that kind of luxury. Carts are just everywhere, some of them just abandoned, half filled with groceries with no shoppers manning them. Did the rapture happen while I was getting a pack of instant noodles? Half of the carts are being driven enthusiastically by six year olds who got their cart driver's license from A1 - A-Wanna-Drive-This-Metal-Deathtrap-Into-Your-Ankles school of Driving. It's crazy. The carts don't even have airbags.

It's a real jungle inside. And it's probably one reason why I always have an idea of what to do inside the grocery. I want to get out as fast as possible. The last time I went in without any real intention of buying, I realized that the supermarket doesn't even have any exits where you aren't going to pass by a cashier. Eventually you just start wandering around the aisles thinking if you have to buy anything. And then you see an interesting product. You don't need it, you didn't even know it existed, but it's interesting. And then there's another interesting product across the aisles. And then another. And another and another. And before you know it, you've spent 10 years inside the supermarket only to buy a tube of toothpaste in the end.

If there's anything in reality close to the limbo described in Inception, this has got to be it.

Only if you try to kill yourself by shooting yourself in the head, you won't even be able to go back to reality.

You'd just hear on the speark "Cleanup on Aisle 7. Cleanup on Aisle 7."

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