Tuesday, 11 May 2010

My Twenty To Ten

Shopping in Morrisons this evening reminded me of club nights, especially cheesy student ones. I recall that end of the night crazed desperate look of the most wasted who have suddenly realised the time and are seeking an unsuspecting victim to prey on – someone oblivious to the time and who doesn't realise what any last minute advances actually signify. I am not sure if I ever carried out a “panic pull” or was on the receiving end of one but I certainly recall wearing high prescription beer goggles at times (perhaps cider/spirit goggles is more appropriate) and may well have been a “10 at 2 and a 2 at 10” myself.

Having already been into Morrisons once tonight, I couldn't resist popping in on my way past walking to the tube station – you see, like those drooling sickos scanning the dance floor from the side or pretending to strut their stuff while checking out the left-overs with their peripheral vision, I wanted to win my pre-closing prize – my “twenty to ten”.

For some reason, I didn't discover the benefits of super late shopping until the combination of travelling on a tight budget and no longer having to fit a million things into my day meant I found myself in an Australian supermarket late one night and came away with a bag of extremely cheap reduced goods. Always the bargain hunter, while away I convinced myself that certain foods were cheaper in the UK and much to my horror, on returning discovered either my perceptions had been warped, my memories faded or the “recession” had actually struck us pretty badly. Doing my weekly shop, I can now no longer afford most fresh meats or vegetables and often shop in three different supermarkets, getting the cheapest items from each.

I am not often in Morrisons as late as tonight's visit and was thoroughly amused by the antics at the cooked meat counter. At 9.20 the man behind the counter got his sticker gun out and started to bag up and label any remaining food, placing it on top of the counter in an attempt to entice customers – an unnecessary act. I look but I'm unimpressed so retreat to the magazine aisle and from here can hear two women loudly asking when he's going to reduce the whole chickens still unsold. I listen to him tell them that the shop doesn't shut until 10, explaining that any final reductions won't occur until immediately before closing. The women walk away loudly planning their return once they have finished the rest of their shop. Still browsing through magazines, I hear a whole array of voices all querying the same thing.

Officially all out of time wasters and realising the time, I decide to go over for one final look. Around the counter stand five shoppers and two are loudly arguing with the man in charge, trying to persuade him to drop the price of chickens. As I approach what was beginning to sound like an auction descends into hostility. One of the men swears at the chicken keeper and storms off noisily, leaving the rest of us in wide-eyed disbelief, listening to the complaints of the wounded worker.

My desired meaty treat has dropped in price but not enough for my liking – starting at £3, it's down to £1.99 but I've seen it for £1 before so know to hold my ground. I make a mental agreement with myself to wait no longer than a further five minutes. In the meantime I witness more shoppers pacing in front of the counter, eyeing up chickens and trying to cut a deal but Morrisons have trained this stubborn member of staff well and he knows how to milk the full price until the bitter end, convincingly telling these newbies it's the supervisors job to decide clearance reductions and that said supervisor may decide not to significantly drop the price anyway. As he spouts out this nonsense, he has the price gun in his hand and just as they turn away shaking their heads, he fires at my target. Having just put the onus onto the supervisor, he has cut my price to just over £1. I grab the goods, remembering my personal promise and take one final look at the seven remaining whole chickens and group standing around hungrily eyeing them up. Victory is mine.

Back at home, I open up the sealed bag and discover my very own “10 at 2 and 2 at 10” in now cold food form and increasingly disappointing over a much shorter time period. Still, it's the hunt that's more enjoyable than the prey, right?

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