Stress – that wonderful word which can be thrown into nearly every situation. According to the Oxford Dictionary “Stress” is: A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.
“Stress is the trash of modern life-we all generate it but if you don’t dispose of it properly, it will pile up and overtake your life.”
― Danzae Pace
Stress and I are very well acquainted. Some examples: I used to work in a play group with about 15 children (aged 1 – 4) and I also taught a very enjoyable English class on Thursday afternoons from 17:00 – 18:30 filled with ten 17 year olds, who wanted nothing more than to study the present perfect on those afternoons.
I experience stress on a daily basis.
This is how my life is at the moment:
At work I’m working on two major projects (leading one of them) and doing the full time job I was hired to do, (approx 40 hours a week, mainly more) and when I get home I’m greeted by big books on Strategy and Management where I then spend my evenings in the company of my university work. During this time I’m also trying to maintain a healthy weight and to keep myself looking good and so I have to find time to do some form of exercise and manage my food consumption, and I need to maintain my personal friendships, and to not give into the temptation of being a lonely hermit.
I can deal with all this and I feel that I’m coping with quite well. I hardly ever lose my temper and I haven’t had a tantrum in a while. I even haven’t eaten a whole bag of Haribo at all this year!
However there is one sort of “demanding circumstance”, which leaves me panting and sweating, my heart racing and my temper flaring, and that is while doing my weekly food shop.
Bringing me onto my next lesson:
Lesson 9: You’ve never been stressed until you’ve been to my local supermarket …
I didn’t realise how stressful supermarkets were until I did the “Christmas Food Shop” back home. We went to the big supermarket during rush hour time only a few days before Christmas. It was packed and a few arguments broke out within the family, but I left that shop feeling more relaxed then I ever have here.
I’m a planner. I use a meal planner to plan my meals for the week and create a shopping list of what to buy. I’m pretty damn organised if I do say so myself. I also only use one supermarket (which I will not name here …) as it’s within comfortable cycling distance from my flat (I don’t have a car), and thus I could close my eyes and draw a map of the shop’s layout. I know where everything is and when I enter the shop, I have already marked the quickest and most efficient route.
(I guess I should point out that my anaylsis is probably not true of all supermarkets of this chain … so I apologise for any offence cause!)
These are the preparations I take in order to reduce stress. Unfortunately it’s never enough…
The the shop is designed so that you only need to go in one direction, which means that the aisles are quite narrow, with food stuffs on both sides. It’s just enough for two trolleys to pass each other. But as a human, do you continously walk and put food in your trolley?
No! You stop, and turn around because you forgot something, or you’re comparing different brands of goat cheese. Thus you leave your trolley somewhere, where you hope is unobtrusive but p’s a lot of people off anyway.
(Another thing I’ve noticed, is that people love to loudly complain (a lot of passive aggressiveness) but will not directly ask you to remove the offending trolley, which would create a solution…I think people just love to complain…)
So after surviving squeezing past a family of 10 to get your cheese, or a particulary heart racing mexican stand off in the deli section (as the aisle is particularly narrow there) you now get to move to the check out….and this is when the fun begins.
Efficiency is a great word – everyone strives to work efficiently. You work fast and accurately, trying to get as much done in the least amount of time.
The lovely cashiers at the supermarket seem to have fallen into the trap of “Over efficiency” or they have daily competitions of who can scan the quickest.
Again the cash desk aisles are not as wide as those in the UK and a queue longer than 3 people blocks up the confectionary section. I place my trolley and start unloading the food (heaviest items first, breakable items last…I’m getting better). It’s normally at this time someone decides to come right up behind me, meaning I have to now stretch to the back of my trolley to get the remaining food.
The person in front of me is just paying and I have my bag (I bring my own) at the ready.
The customer in front of me is still packing the food into their bag but that doesn’t matter…they have their receipt…this means it’s go time for the cashier.
At a speed which would render jealousy from the Intel 8-core, the cashier starts to scan my items and throw them down to the end.
Unfortunately the person in front of me is still packing their bag, so I can only watch as my food collects in an unorganised pile.
At last…the person moves and I rush foward with my trolley, get out my big bag and start to pack. I’ve trained myself and I am getting faster but the cashier notices my speed and gets even more faster until it’s absolute pandemonium and my organisation has been destroyed.
Food which can be easily squished ends up under a heavy carton of milk. The eggs start praying for their lives…
The cashier finishes and it’s time to pay. Half of my food is in the bag and half is still on the counter, but the impatient expression on the cashier’s face forces me look for my debit card. You’d think, that I’d have a little bit of time to recover some more food items while the machine processes my card, but alas … the supermarket has also invested in a super efficient payment system which requires PIN entry immediately after the card is entered and then quickly processes the payment. It is then, that the receipt is printed and I look with panic at my still quite large pile of food which needs to be packed.
I’m handed the receipt and a rush of energy flows through the cashier as they begin with the next customer. The customer behind is visibly impatient with me and foreign food stuffs is mixing up with my food stuffs.
My heart is racing and I break out in a cold sweat. I can feel the customer urging me to hurry up and so I end up flinging everything into my bag and leaving the store.
Geschafft! (Phew made it)
But not quite…I need to get this stuff home. I may have mentioned that I cycle to the supermarket…this is due to the fact that I don’t have a car. But I do have a bike with a little basket on the back, which fits one big edeka shopping bag (which is infact very heavy.) Nevertheless I heave the bag over my shoulder, onto my bike and pray that the lock keeping the bike upright doesn’t break, as I return my trolley.
My handbag goes on the handle and I attempt to close the top of my shopping bag. I have unfortunately lost many tomatoes and eggs on this perilous cycle home, their messy remains staining the street.
I start to cycle, wobbling a little from side to side. I make it to the main road, which unfortunately has decorative tiles on it, making my bike vibrate when I ride over them.
And then I get to my street – a side street covered in potholes. The game begins. I try to maneouver down the street while avoiding the bumps. If there is no car infront or behind me, then this is quite managable but more often than not, I am forced into a pothole by a big vehicle – risking the loss of some loose products.
I get home and assess the damage. Is my milk squished? Did my yoghurt pop open?
Then it’s time for a tea to calm my poor nerves.
I hope you enjoyed this rather long post.
As always – thanks for reading!