Zayn was magnificent though
July 4, 2015 12:33 PM   Subscribe

I enter the realm of clothing.
posted by oceanjesse at 12:36 PM on July 4, 2015

I don't think this author appreciates the joy that is supermarkets. It is very sad.

*wanders off to add 'supermarkets' to that MeTa about weird hobbies and obsessions*
posted by maryr at 12:48 PM on July 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oddly, this experience is better summed up by The Clash: Lost in the supermarket (SLYT)
posted by quarsan at 12:57 PM on July 4, 2015 [11 favorites]

I used to dream about doing this as a kid. Now that I live in the Retail Republic, the very idea of spending 19 hours in a supermarket does a staby staby at my heart and the butt goes moist. Please send someone to aisle 88 to clean up the mess that is me.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:05 PM on July 4, 2015

Saturday Night magazine once ran an article by Jack Hitt on his spending a week inside the West Edmonton Mall (at that time the largest mall in the world and still the largest in North America).
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:05 PM on July 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Thirty minutes in a supermarket is about as long as I can handle.
posted by octothorpe at 1:09 PM on July 4, 2015 [4 favorites]

I often get struck by this weird, alien unreality when in supermarkets. These endless rows of packaged products, so much work and effort and time and money required to get them to the shelves just so that someone can come in and decide to buy this tuna a thousand miles from the ocean instead of that one.

It's a very, very strange sensation.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:16 PM on July 4, 2015 [4 favorites]

My favorite time to be in a supermarket is like 3:30am. The post bar late night drunks are gone, and the people who just get up really fucking early haven't shown up yet. It's completely deserted, and they're usually not stocking either. There's nothing but you, endless rows of shit, and the CVS bangers echoing through the aisles.

That said, More than one of my friends has worked a shift probably close to if not this long at a supermarket before. With breaks and everything, but still. A 12 hour shift at a fast food place is worse, though. I remember actively wishing i worked at a supermarket during those.
posted by emptythought at 1:39 PM on July 4, 2015

The different ranges of products available in American vs. British supermarkets will never fail to amuse me.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:39 PM on July 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

I got to the part about butterflies feasting on feces and corpses and wandered off to read "An Interview With A Bukakke Party Girl" instead. I figured it couldn't be less of a waste of my time.
posted by jferg at 1:54 PM on July 4, 2015 [4 favorites]

(And yes, butterflies -do- feast on feces and corpses - that just happened to be the point where the article petered out for me.)
posted by jferg at 1:56 PM on July 4, 2015

Reminds me of the time Hank Green forced himself to spend fifteen hours inside of a Target. It was framed more as a goofy experience instead of an existential crisis like this though.
posted by cyberscythe at 2:20 PM on July 4, 2015


"Back when I still had a taste for psychedelic drugs nothing made me happier than to go into the supermarket while on something powerful."

Perhaps you would enjoy Too High for the Supermarket?
posted by kristi at 2:21 PM on July 4, 2015

I worked in a supermarket for 8.5 years. I would sometimes look at the lifetime accumulated hours on my paystub and think about how many weeks of my life has been spent at the store. I still love going grocery shopping.
Ours didn't have clothes and stuff, though. Maybe really being able to buy everything you need to live in one place is what crosses it over into the grotesque.
posted by MsDaniB at 2:22 PM on July 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also, neatly arranged, full shelves don't have as much visual appeal anymore; they ping my "job well done" switch instead. Although I can appreciate them more in photographs.
posted by MsDaniB at 2:25 PM on July 4, 2015

By the end I thought I was a hummingbird of some kind.
posted by Segundus at 2:39 PM on July 4, 2015 [5 favorites]

There was an entire episode of Dawson's Creek where Pacey and Joey were locked inside of a Wal-Mart. They lived comfortably enough, but they were also in the Dawson's Creek universe.
posted by Fizz at 3:16 PM on July 4, 2015

"We need to stand up and be counted, re: battery. There is something that must be done."

Preach it, sister.
posted by Splunge at 4:40 PM on July 4, 2015

It was kind of an interesting article, but... what a strange, low-key, pointless little stunt. I kept expecting some sort of surprising incident, or a deeper insight, and instead it was just... interesting? It got by entirely on the snarky charms of the writing, but otherwise she just seemed to kind of haunt the place, drifting around without truly engaging with anybody or anything.

Maybe it would help if I had stronger feelings about markets. I just kind of like them, and they don't take up a lot of my brain. I've heard other people talk about walking into a supermarket and going into some sort of weird trance, overwhelmed by the bright lights and shelves of merchandise. I cannot relate at all, unless maybe I went in terribly hungover or sick or something.

I can overthink almost anything and make it weird, that's kind of my deal... but for me, a supermarket is just a supermarket. It's not the place for some angsty freak out. If anything, it's where I might go to get a brief respite from an angsty freak out, a bit of bland normalcy to bring me down. Enjoy the chilly sting of the frozen food section, maybe steal a grape from produce. Get what you need and go. Quit blocking the aisles and get on with life.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:26 PM on July 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

9:30 pm: I pull into a parking spot. It's dark already and I'm early, but I need to get my game face on. It's an essential part of the job--becoming an human automaton requires some prep time.

10:00 pm: I punch in, offering my left fingerprint as verification. I pause in the dingy hallway that separates the customer floor from the storage area to check my aisle assignment. It's another night in paradise--Froot Loops Heaven. I roll out my backstock and begin to sort through all the lonely leftover remainders that wouldn't fit on the shelves on previous nights. Although the process never, and I mean never, ends I feel a moment of perverse satisfaction at beating down the number of cases on my carts. Shit, at least now I can see over the top and don't have to roll them around the floor with my head bobbing and weaving from side to side to keep from knocking a customer down onto the hard cement floors.

Midnight: I've broken down the couple of pallets which have been dropped at the top of my aisle. I grip each box and tear open the tops, then place them on a cart to make it easier to roll up and down the aisle finding each product's home. My hands are dry from ripping through the cardboard and my box cutter is clogged with tape. Like a sailor at sea who constantly shifts balance to keep upright, I bob from one thought to another: "Thank God for hand cream. Did I rip another fingernail? Guitar practice will hurt a bit today."

2am: I've taken a break, but I'm beginning to get tired. Partly because it's unnatural to be sweating in the middle of the night, partly because I'm older and don't have the stamina I used to. But mostly because there are never enough people to do the job properly. That's by design. The ghost of Frederick Taylor constantly hovers, taunting the shells of human beings who, either by sad circumstance or selection of the lesser of two evils, spend their lives twelve hours atilt from the rest of humanity, putting mostly unhealthy stuff on the shelves. It's like a back-handed form of revenge to offset the worst of human nature that some customers display here. Except the pay is so sparse that I have to eat some of this crap, too. It's all I can afford.

4:30 am. Really getting tired now. My shoulder throbs and my knees ache from crawling around on those cost-effective-to-clean cement floors. Knee pads help a little, but I still wish for the halcyon days of tile.

6:00 am. Survived another night. But I am exhausted from throwing around a few tons of product and my mind is frayed from whipsawing between the self-imposed banality that I assume in order to protect sane and voicelessly shouting futile curses at corporate management...not to mention tonight's unseemly encounters with customer displays of the undercarriage of human nature. Dirty and stinky, I head home for a cleansing shower. Maybe I'll read some Metafilter to help cleanse my soul.

Later that day, I read an article written by some dipstick about what it's like to be in a supermarket for a long time. I want to spit on the floor in disgust, but I restrain myself with a snort of twisted humor.
posted by CincyBlues at 6:02 PM on July 4, 2015 [14 favorites]

I find the "I'm going to do X for a really long time" article conceit even more pointless than "I'm doing to take drugs then do X" article conceit.
posted by retrograde at 7:04 PM on July 4, 2015

He or she took a "giant bottle of water" too asda. Has this person ever been to asda?

I once spent an entire evening at Mac's Milk with a friend who was working there. Does that count?
posted by clvrmnky at 7:30 PM on July 4, 2015

Similarly, a guy spends 16 hours inside a Home Depot. It's circa 2002, and it hasn't aged that well (randomly throws off comments like "kids' paint is fucking gay"), but still memorable if only for the staff reactions.
posted by chrominance at 10:00 PM on July 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh, I'm sure few of Vice's writers have ever had to contemplate supermarkets as places of work. However, this is my local Asda, and not long after we moved in, we went there to buy an iron at 10pm. It's on two floors, and as you take the travelator up to where the home goods are, you see the aisles and aisles of stuff laid out before you below under daytime brightness, and it's strangely confusing. Where would it all *go*?

I went for an interview at a different branch when I was a student. They made us build towers out of straws in groups, and then we had to do their corporate chant. They didn't take me on in the end, and nobody's asked me to make anything from straws since, so who knows what I did wrong.
posted by mippy at 1:43 AM on July 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

I really, really like foreign supermarkets, though. When we finally end up taking that trip to the US, you better believe I'm going to be researching bus routes to the nearest WalMart. There's an 'American Goods' aisle in our nearest big Tesco where you can get Fruit Loops for £6 and chocolate bars with stickers on the wrapping proclaiming 'Warning: contains additives believed by the EU to increase hyperactivity in children'...but it's not the same.
posted by mippy at 1:48 AM on July 5, 2015 [5 favorites]

When we finally end up taking that trip to the US, you better believe I'm going to be researching bus routes to the nearest WalMart.

You'd be better off renting a car, in my experience Walmarts tend to be far away from bus routes.
posted by octothorpe at 4:35 AM on July 5, 2015

I used to work for a beer company and once got roped into helping my company's merchandising people. This involved a trip to several supermarket in the drinks buying maelstrom that is the weekend before Christmas. What struck me about the Asda branches - in contrast to some of their more up-market rivals - was that their drinks isle was littered with the stuff that people had unloaded from their trollies so that they could fit in more booze.
posted by rongorongo at 4:51 AM on July 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Octothorpe, I can't drive.
posted by mippy at 5:38 AM on July 6, 2015

How the heck do people who work there and can't afford a car on minimum wage get to work? There must be some kind of public transport going on, no?
posted by mippy at 5:39 AM on July 6, 2015

There isn't really much in the way of public transportation outside of the cities in the US. I've worked for minimum and always had a car. You just buy a $500 beater and keep it patched together the best you can.
posted by octothorpe at 5:58 AM on July 6, 2015

There must be some kind of public transport going on, no?

Most often, no.
posted by Dr-Baa at 11:58 AM on July 6, 2015

There are WalMarts that you can get to on the bus, but they're terrible. Forget the politics - you can't shop there because they have nothing on the shelves. If you want to have the classic WalMart experience you have to go to a store that can only be reached in a car. WalMart has such contempt for their urban customers that it doesn't bother to maintain those stores to any rational standard, but still the place is packed. I don't get it.
posted by elizilla at 6:54 PM on July 6, 2015

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