Eye-rolling, resigned, weary: there are certain looks associated with the typical late-night weekday shopper, trudging along the deli counter after a long day behind a desk. Terrified, anxious and irritable are the classic expressions at the checkout queue on weekends. How do I know? Because I spend more time in supermarkets each week than most people do in three months. Over the shrieks of babies strapped into trolley seats and the beeping of barcodes, you’ll find me chattering excitedly to whichever poor soul I’ve managed to badger into accompanying me. It’s not that I love shopping – it’s just that I love being surrounded by groceries.
For most people, a weekly shop is enough, but I much prefer daily trips. I’d go more frequently if I could, but I think my boss would be less than thrilled to witness me popping out between daily deadlines. My obsession is learned behaviour, most likely from my dad, a man who has been known to invent stories about missing staple foods and forgotten items in order to hit the supermarket for the third time in a single Friday afternoon.
Dad is also the one who taught me a love of food and cooking, a passion that requires many joy-filled shop runs. When I lived in Dubai Marina, I was thrilled when the store in my building brought tidings of 24-hour shopping, seven days a week. I almost moved in next to the frozen peas. Whatever next? Free tasters, perhaps? Sadly, my tenancy contract expired before I was able to find out.
When expat residents welcome visitors from home, most get the chance to climb the Burj Khalifa. Mine get a grand tour of the local grocery shop. Fortunately, my friends understand – they find this peculiarity quaint.
My family are just as mad as me. If all four of us are in the same city at the same time, heading out to do the weekly shop without extending the invitation to others is considered thoughtless and selfish. But the great thing about it is that whenever we go on holiday together, far from arguing about the first thing we should see, it is unanimously and silently decided that the nearest hypermarket is top of the list.
It would be nice to have a buddy for the months between family visits, but sadly my network of supermarket-lovers in Dubai is small. I’m thinking of setting up a Facebook page for trolley-pushing kindred spirits. Until then, if you wish to join me, I’ll be the one wearing a look of disproportionate ecstasy in the crisp aisle.