I’m pushing the trolley round our favourite German food-stuff provider, or Aldi for short. The little lady is happy and in her element. She’s being pushed around, she’s got something to chew (the shopping list) and there are lots of interesting things (at low, low prices!) for her to look at.
I’m mainly here because I’m doing a ‘voucher shop’. You may know what I’m talking about but if not I’ll explain. Once a month the Mirror (and the Daily Record too I believe) does a series of vouchers in association with Aldi. There are many smaller vouchers but they are accompanied by the £5 OFF A £40 SPEND voucher. Now I don’t know about you, but I go a little bit crazy when I see that £5 OFF A £40 SPEND voucher. It doesn’t matter if we just did the weekly shop and if we are full to bursting in all departments. If I see £5 OFF A £40 SPEND, I am bloody well going to spend £40.
As a stay-at-home Dad, I am on a very fixed income. I have a bit of cash coming in from interest on a savings account, my monthly kitty from the missus, a separate savings account (what I call my ‘slush fund’) and my current account. I tend to move my money around quite a bit, to take advantage of the massive saving percentages available to us in this day and age. This can occasionally leave my current account a bit, shall we say, close to the wire financially speaking. Which is not usually a problem.
Except today my internal approximator calculator – you know the bit of your brain you use to keep a running total of your goods – appears to be on the fritz. I’ve got two figures in my head. How much is in the trolley, approximately, and how much is in my bank account, approximately.
I get to the till. I look at my trolley. That trolley looks very full I think. My daughter looks at me. She likes this bit, unloading the trolley. I hope there’s no more than £50’s worth in there, I think. She gets stuck in and starts putting bits within her reach on the conveyor-belt. As long as it’s not more than £60 we’re OK I think. I help the little lady empty the trolley. This takes a while. There’s always the £5 off voucher, I think, plus the 69p off the Parma ham. Yeah, we should be OK. ‘£82.56’ says the Polish lady behind the counter, smiling with at least 50% of her face.
I put the card in the machine. My brain is madly scrambling but there’s only one real answer coming up. I know it. And now the little card reader machine knows it. And the little card reader machine is going to tell the Polish lady exactly what that is. ‘There is problem with this card’ she says to me. ‘Sorry is not going through’.
Now I go to the gym. I sweat quite quickly once I get up and running. But that’s after about 15 minutes of running. I get an all-over-body sweat in about 20 seconds as I stand there in Aldi with the – obligatory – queue of glaring shoppers waiting their turn. I can’t pay, but with the wonders of modern technology I can easily transfer the funds from one account to another.
Maybe Polish lady can freeze the items until I do that? It will only take a few minutes. No. Polish lady cannot do that. In fact she can’t even void it off. No she has to get a manager to come over to approve the voiding. So I stand there, in an incredibly busy Aldi, at peak time, with a packed trolley, desperately trying to use my incredibly slow mobile phone to transfer enough funds to my account so I can pay for these goods and get out of there and have a shower. People are muttering and looking at me. I can see them while I’m fiddling with my phone, cursing my fat fingers. One old guy mutters ‘someone needs to do their sums better’ as he walks past.
I transfer the money. I go back around. I do it all again. My daughter helps me, she’s loving this – two turns at the conveyor belt?! Thanks daddy! I pay the Polish lady, and apologise ‘is Ok’ she says. Without a hint of judgment, instantly raising herself in my estimation.
I leave with one thought in my head. If I had have taken both kids in there, and that exact scenario that I just had to go through had played out – I would have had a heart attack.