Is ALDI German For Stress?
My heart rate has begun to elevate.
I can’t wait for this to be over. I’m not about to go bungee jumping or parachuting from a plane. I’m getting ready to do battle at the Aldi checkout.
I know Aldi’s nothing new but I’ve only just started making it part of my weekly shopping routine. I’ve been a grocery-shopping snob for a long time and I’ve finally decided that savings doesn’t necessarily mean poor quality, but I digress.
This story isn’t about the savings or the Special Buys which send people all over Australia (I nearly bought a foot spa the other day) into a frenzy.
This is the tale of the total and utter stress that I’m hit with when it’s time to pay.
Last Sunday I did the weekly shop and flew up and down the aisles grabbing four of everything and a litre bottle of ketchup for $1 because it's Aldi. Once the trolley was full I pointed myself in the direction of the checkout and began to sweat.
For those of you who have never shopped at Aldi, let me explain something. It’s not your normal civilised grocery shopping experience. The one where you casually stroll up to the conveyor belt, the person behind the checkout makes polite small talk.
“How are you today?”
You reply, “Good thanks, yourself?”
You then start to perfectly arrange your items into logical categories of meat, fresh produce, tinned items etc. You hand over your reusable bags (let’s not get into that one!) and start scrolling through Instagram while someone else kindly packs your bags for you.
Sadly, we’re at Aldi and there’s no time for pleasantries here. You don’t have the luxury of arranging your items so they can be bagged categorically. Once you hit that conveyor belt it’s go time!
To be honest, I’m almost certain there’s an Aldi staff member of the month award for the employee who can get people out the quickest. Or who can make the most people suffer a nervous breakdown.
From the minute you start to place things on the gigantic conveyor belt (seriously you could land a light aircraft on this thing) the stress starts to build.
I ditch my normal grocery sorting routine and, instead, frantically pile everything onto the belt and then sprint the 400m to the other end of the conveyor belt, line up my trolley and brace myself.
Picture an old western duel. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly starts to play. The Aldi checkout operator and I size each other up. Then, what sounds like a heart rate monitor strapped to someone who’s just completed a marathon begins to sound. Beep, beep, beep, beep!
The checkout person scans my items at breakneck speed and flings them at me. I desperately try to keep up, hurling things into the trolley. Anything even slightly durable is shown no mercy.
I attempt to take more care with my eggs but by the time I’ve gently placed them in my trolley I’ve fallen behind with my other grocery items and suddenly there’s a backlog and the other Aldi shoppers are displeased with the hold up.
The Aldi checkout operator takes no mercy, he’s still scanning at the speed and light and I watch as one of my pears falls off the counter and disappears under his seat.
“There’s no time, leave it!!” I scream.
My trolley that was once so neat and organised now looks like it could be housing a family of rats somewhere inside it.
Once I tried stupidly to bag as the items came through, but I fell so far behind that my groceries piled up like mud slide waiting to crush a small village.
My bananas are squashed, my bread is flattened and my beautifully environmentally responsible reusable bags are hidden somewhere under all my groceries. I don’t have time to worry about that right now.
As I’m frantically loading my trolley I can’t help but wonder if they have a defibrillator located nearby for the sheer volume of old people that shop here.
Surely this isn’t good for them.
The last item comes through and I can breathe a sigh of relief and celebrate saving myself $60 and move over to one of the pit stop benches where I can compose myself and start packing my bags.
Once I hit 70 I might return to the more relaxed environment of Woolworths or Coles, there’s no point saving $60 if I’m dead.
This post first appeared on August 15, 2018.