When Your Grocery Trolley Is A Handcart to Hell

You’d think I’d have gotten the gist by now.  After months of practice, I’m still no better at it. I’ve studied them, poked and prodded them, sent samples down to the lab, soaked them, baked them and even set fire to them (albeit by accident – don’t leave anything next to the hotplate!). But despite my extensive and, some would say, creative research, I still have not mastered the whole face-mask caper.  

I know what you’re thinking – if a tree falls in a forest, does anybody hear?  And, quite possibly, why did they ever mess with the formula for Barbecue Shapes?  (It was destined to end badly for all concerned.)  But you’re also thinking – what kind of fool struggles to wear a face mask?  All you need to do is loop the elastic over your ears, ensure the mask is facing forwards rather than backwards, and away you go.  That’s where you’re wrong.

I wear glasses.  In fact, I’ve worn glasses since I was a teenager.  And it’s been fine, up until now.  But what the last miserable eighteen months has taught me is that wearing a mask and glasses simultaneously is pretty much impossible.  I can get by without them if I’m just walking around, but I am totally incapable of reading anything.  At all.  

When you’re wearing a mask, glasses fog up.  They just do.  Instead of lenses through which you can see, they become entirely frosted over in an instant. This has proved especially impractical when shopping.  Once, I’d prepare an inventory (something I refer to as a ‘shopping list’), travel to the supermarket and purchase the things I’d already decided on.  It sounds simple, but it worked for me.  Having glasses that fog up because I’m wearing a mask makes this somewhat simple act a whole lot more complicated.

I’ve now officially given up. By which I mean I’m now no longer wearing my glasses to the supermarket.  This has resulted in a number of challenges.  Firstly, there’s the issue of the list itself. Whereas once, I wrote my shopping list on a small piece of paper that I kept in my pocket.  I’ve now had to go with something bigger so I can increase the size of my writing.  For this reason, I’m using a bed sheet.  

Because I’m now using a bed sheet on which to write my shopping list, the first thing I need to write each week is ‘bed sheet’.  Permanent marker is nothing if not unambiguous in terms of what it does, and I need a new sheet each week to replace the last.  But despite the fact that my list is now written in letters that are the size of a three year old child, I still have trouble reading the list without my glasses.  Which is disappointing, given that if left on an oval it could probably be read from space.  This means that shopping has become an essentially random act.

My list begins with the basics – rice, bananas, yoghurt and milk.  However, last week I returned from the supermarket with shoe polish, string, a litre of prune juice and pigs’ trotters.  Back home and with mask off and glasses on, I shuddered as an image of the calamitous sandwich that results from such a cavalcade of ingredients took my mind hostage.  It got my entire week off on the wrong (pigs’) foot.

This is so much worse than simply not being able to distinguish between full and low fat.  I am getting the wrong products entirely.  The first hint of this comes when I reach the checkout and the eyebrows of the person working there begin to rise. As a result, I started avoiding the human checkouts in favour of the ‘self serve’ version.  Even there, the checkout lit up like a poker machine as I tried to scan what turned out to be a bucket of tripe.  Somewhat ironically, I’m making a complete spectacle of myself because I don’t have my glasses.

I’ll admit I’m feeling listless.  By which I mean I’ve now given up using a list at all and am simply using either my intuition or, if you prefer, ‘the Force’.  Clearly my intuition leaves a lot to be desired and I’m beginning to regret dropping out of my Certificate III Jedi Training course.  Today, I returned only with tea.  I swear I bought things at multiple locations within the store, but have returned only with enough tea to see me through the rest of my life.  Granted, there are some variations as to the type of tea, which is nice, but it won’t make for much of a sandwich.

There will be some reading this, screaming at their newspapers as to why I don’t order on line whilst I still have my glasses and let the food come to me.  It’s a fair point, but I’m reluctant to give up a legitimate reason to leave the house at this time.  Instead, I’ll need to embrace the randomness of it all and make the best of things.  It’s what we’re all doing, really.  

I’ve been working all day in the kitchen trying to whip up something tasty, but I’m going to need a much larger whip if I’m to succeed.  Using tripe, stock, potatoes, string and a pomegranate, I’ve been boiling the whole thing up for the last twelve hours and the time has finally arrived where I can no longer avoid tasting it.  I raise the spoon to my lips.  The results were, predictably, offal.  Glasses or not, I should have seen that one coming.