Monday, May 5, 2008

"I am the muffin man, and I come fromround your way"

From my experience, there are two main risks for the visually-impaired shopper – risks that can turn retail therapy into retail trauma. I have to preface this by admitting that, in common with many blokes, it’s not exactly my favourite pastime in any case. Being lured into a trip into town normally requires a large carrot, or more precisely, piece of carrot cake and large cappuccino. Once you can’t see what it is you’re trying to buy, the coffee shop becomes even more important.

Supermarkets are particularly dangerous places. The sheer size of them and range of goods on offer makes it just about impossible to find what I need quickly and without a fuss. I’m now resigned to the fact that I need to ask for assistance which, although invaluable, is by no means free of danger. Usually, I am assigned some poor shop assistant who spends most of their waking time sat at the tills. So the opportunity to help me around the shop is not one to be wasted. “Are you sure that’s all you need?” “Yes, thanks.” “Do you not need any milk?” “No.” “What about bread, do you need bread?” “No.” and so on. That’s after I’ve done their induction training for them, explaining the general direction of where things are in the store. That’s after I’ve explained why I want guacamole and chillis. That’s after I’ve explained what guacamole is. That’s after I’ve explained what I can or cannot see. That’s after I’ve explained where the dog has gone. That’s after I’ve explained that no, I don’t need a trolley and that a basket will do. That’s after I’ve explained why I’ve not been in for a while. That’s all before I decide that I won’t be in again for a while.

Experiences like this make internet shopping an attractive option, but this too can be problematic. I remember the time when I earned the name “Muffin Man” after a slip of the finger on my supermarket order went un-noticed. Having thought I had ordered two packets of 4 chocolate chip muffins (in place of the coffee shop stop, you see) it was with some disbelief that I set about unpacking the 22 packets I had ordered. It was at this point that a new local event was created. The Great North Bun-Run involved sending the kids running to friends and neighbours with offerings of muffins. Next door even got theirs posted through the letterbox. Funnily enough, I’ve not ordered any since.

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