My mother’s local supermarket, Somerfield, has rearranged its tills, dividing them not according to how many items you might need to pay for, but the container, trolley or basket, you’ve chosen to collect them in. The trolley tills are where you’d expect tills to be; the basket tills have been siphoned off behind a barrier laden with the sort of goods some supermarket designer must have deemed the most probable impulse buys for basket carriers. I didn’t know this until today. I was emptying my basket on the belt when the woman told me her till was for trolleys only.
– Why? I said.
– Because baskets are over there.
– But why?
– Because I can only take for trolleys.
– But I’ve got enough stuff here to fill a trolley.
– But you haven’t got a trolley. I can’t do baskets. I can only do trolleys.
– But there’s no one here, I say. And there’s a queue over there.
– I’m sorry, but I’ve been told. I can’t do baskets.
– Can you change this? I said, offering her a two pound coin.
– What for?
– Because then I can go outside and get a trolley and put all these things into it and then I’ll be able to pay here.
She thought about this for a moment, apparently on the point of saying that she couldn’t do change, then gave me two one pound coins. I left my basket on the floor and went outside to get a trolley. When I came back the till was closed.
This story is true. Up to the point at which I claim to have said, Why. Because I didn’t say anything. I stomped across and joined the basket queue. And I’m still angry.