ISO groceries – shop more buy less?

by | Apr 5, 2020 | 0 comments

Life is really strange at the moment. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that.

A few years ago when I was really unwell with my mental illness (Bipolar), one of the first things I gave up was grocery shopping. On good days I could just get dressed and just manage to get out of the house but by the end of our street I would be pulled over panic stricken and, on a few occasions, physically being sick. Simply getting dress was an obstacle. So was getting myself to leave the house. The thought of being in a shopping centre filled with lots of other people and making, what should be, seemingly easily decisions about things, like which pasta to buy, was just too much for me. I couldn’t do it.

Despite a comment from someone close to us of it being ‘unfair of me’, my hubby was amazing and stepped up to grocery shop on a weekend with one of our teenage daughters. They actually enjoyed it and classed it as quality time together as they would laugh about who could get the end price the closest and they would be thrilled if they went under budget. I never actually knew that food shopping could be so fun and loved hearing them come back with laughter and stories.

After a while I decided to go to online shopping for home delivery from a major supermarket. I still wasn’t well enough to grocery shop regularly myself and our weekends got busier with the 4 kids sports, so this worked. I felt guilty that I was shopping at major supermarkets when we have such beautiful produce, markets and independent stores here in Tasmania, but it’s a matter of doing the best we can at the time.

Timing is funny though. About 4-6 weeks ago I decided I was ready to get out in the World by myself and shop again. I was ready to hit the markets and independent grocers as needed. I was super excited to get the gorgeous Tasmanian produce as much as I could and support local.

And then. Now. Corona Virus. Covid-19.

The Government is telling is to stay at home as much as possible. Only go out for ‘essentials’ and only if you really really have to.

I am super grateful that the past 3 weeks I have been able to get fruit and veg and some pantry items delivered to home from a Tasmanian Grocer. Other pantry items I get from an independently owned Bulk Wholefood store – even more grateful, that one of my daughters works there, so I can give her a list, drop her off a little early for her shift and she will get what I need.

Today though I had to brave a major Supermarket. I was already feeling a little anxious about going, it’s Sunday and heading out on a weekend was the last thing I felt like doing whilst my family were at home. However, anyone that owns a business, knows that our hours aren’t M-F 9-5. Everything that I needed to get was for work and so it needed to be done separate to my families shopping. My youngest (girl twin) Miss 9 offered to come with me. So with a comment from me of ‘let’s get this over and done with’ we left.

We went to Big W and we were there with perhaps 10 other people. Stickers and arrows everywhere of where we could walk and stand. Strange. I get it. Just strange. I needed to buy earphones for my Miss 15 and a hard drive for myself. The person that served me made me feel like I was highly contagious. I get it’s scary and uncertain times but there is that whole saying of ‘actions speak louder than words’. I wasn’t allowed to touch the box of the hard drive, or get close enough to read the small print, to see if it was compatible with my laptop and the sales assistant didn’t know, so I didn’t buy it. Which means I either try and get one online or another trip somewhere for hubby or I to buy one. I bought the headphones and they were slid over to me using ONE finger … and no smile.

From there we braved the Supermarket. Woolworths. We were greeted by a young male who wiped down the trolley we chose. So kind and friendly.

Once again there weren’t many people there. The ones that were, were either super friendly or grumpy-no-smiles. I was asked twice (by different people) if I knew whether or not there were limits on certain products. If anyone working at Woolworths is reading this, PLEASE put up those handy signs that you had saying what quantities you could and couldn’t buy. PLEASE! We have no flippin’ clue!

At one stage I was in the baking aisle making a decision on something and heard a big sigh and humph behind me and I turned around to see a lady clearly doing the right thing standing back / social distancing – with arms folded, a frown and quite frankly the attitude of a child – ‘I need something from there’ she almost growled at me. Look, I get she could have been going through something I have no idea about, but no need to grump at strangers. For any grumpy-no-smiles people reading this, please remember that you can use your words, something I taught my children at around age two.

So it was check out time. I piled all my work things up (a month’s worth which was a couple of hundred dollars worth), I was then asked to pause and go to the other end to pack my own bags as he has run out of room and wasn’t allowed to pack them. I was told that I was only allowed to buy one flour (I had there to buy 1 x 2kg plain flour and 1 x 250g of Oat flour) and I was only allowed to buy two long life milk products (I had 1 x long life milk and 3 x tins condensed milk) I never knew condensed milk was classed as ‘long life milk’. Anyway.

I said that’s ok. Just put through one flour and two milks and the others I will put through with the few home things I was getting. I was told no. I couldn’t do two transactions, one for work and one for home. Even though I explained my business and showed separate payment cards. The answer was a firm no. I made him understand that I knew it wasn’t his fault however that I wanted to speak to someone higher. A supervisor came over and also said no. So I asked for the Manager. Now, I am not normally that person, but today I was. I was calm, I was friendly, but I had about 40ish things for home, NOTHING else I was buying more than two of, I wasn’t panic buying, or bulk buying, I simply wanted to avoid going back for the rest of the MONTH for work and avoid going back for at least 1-2 weeks for home! It was also very clear that my groceries for work were not that of a home shop.

This is what I was told by Management. Buy your work things, we’ll put the trolley aside with your other things. Go put your work things in the car then come back and go to a different checkout and buy your home things. Next time bring another person with you (obviously older than my 9 year old) that can pay for the second lot if it looks like you aren’t together. Can’t you come back and get home things another day?

After pleading my case in a way that made me feel like I was defending myself for being a hard ass criminal, as calmly and politely as possible, I was given a ‘favour’ and allowed to buy work things and then home things. But not next time. Phew, roger that. I was thanked for not yelling at them and was told they get yelled at several times a day. Sadly, I can kind of understand that. It’s so confusing. Nothing is clear. Nothing is normal. I wasn’t going to yell but I must admit I did my best not to cry. By the time the Manager was there I had multiple people stopping to listen. It was rather horrible. Needless to say, my anxiety was through the roof, I felt like I was going to have a heart attack and I came home defeated by the entire experience and had a big cry (insert reality, not so flattering, defeated selfie!)


Life is just so confusing at the moment. We are told to stay at home as much as possible yet I am being asked to come back to the supermarket for a second time and to bring more people along. I just don’t get it.

I wasn’t going to shoot the messenger. It isn’t their fault as they don’t make the rules but I have no doubt I am not alone with this situation. There are 6 of us in my family, I know so many other families are bigger. Do they have to go to the shops more often because of these limits? Isn’t this defeating the purpose? I know 3 weeks or so ago I wanted to buy 8 chicken drumsticks and once again was given a ‘favour’ by letting me buy them as they weighed 1.3kg and the limit was meant to be 1kg.

Are we being asked to shop more and buy less?

Hubby heard a suggestion of showing a Medicare card to show you have bigger families etc – what else do you think could be looked at to help these situations? Or are you happy going to the shops frequently?

Let me say. If at all needed, let this be the time to remind you, once again, that the sales assistants and Managers etc are just doing their jobs. It is not their fault. Speak kindly. Maybe they’ll be gracious like they were with me today. Maybe not. Either way, they don’t need to be abused or yelled at.

And just remember that everyone is freaked out as much as you, so a smile goes a long way. You never know if it is a persons first time out seeing humans in a week and a smile could be all they need to brighter their hearts and their days.

Please keep looking after yourself … and each other.

Take Care of You,

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