As unsigned posts go, this is one of the funniest. Several lines leapt off the page and made me spill my coffee… but I won’t spoil it for you. For obvious reasons, the author could not… erect the piece on his blog! Ed

Some years ago, after the birth of our second child, I took full responsibility for sourcing our contraceptive needs. The pill, while effective, didn’t agree with my partner. This has involved me having to have many forced yet cheery conversations with shop assistants. Usually younger than me. Much younger. And female. I know it shouldn’t be a problem, but … it just *is*, for me, sometimes.

Noting that I was running short of the essentials, I made a plan to go shopping this lunchtime to replenish stocks. However, I’m cunning enough to realise that leaving the errand until just after the lunchtime rush for sandwiches and cosmetics minimises any potential embarrassment of running into a work colleague or friend. I’m far too mean to pay 5p for a bag, as well as not being well enough organised enough to take my own.

I entered the store and checked the bank of tills at the front. No queue, three slightly bored looking assistants – and one of them is male! Feeling confident, I stride purposely to the back of the store. Ah. Problem. There’s another man, about my age and wearing an improbably jaunty hat, studiously going through all of the products. As I hang back in the aisle behind, paying far more attention to insect bite lotions than is sane, it gets worse. He calls the pharmacy assistant over and asks, at great length and in some detail, about all the products on display. Meanwhile, another assistant approaches me and asks if I need help with the insect bite products. I mumble something incoherent but hopefully polite, make my excuses and drift over to the photography aisle instead. I’m then inappropriately reminded of the Eric Idle ‘Nudge nudge, wink wink” sketch and start blushing furiously.

Finally, after what seems like an eternity, jaunty hat man is satisfied with his collection of goodies and strikes out towards the tills. Like a ninja I swoop silently and, I hope, totally unobserved into the family planning aisle. The next problem is that it’s been a while since I stocked up (I buy reasonably large quantities so that I don’t have to do this too often, seeing as you’re asking) and all of the product names have changed. Panicking slightly, I pick up a few of the nearest cartons (I’ve now discovered that ‘Pleasure Me’ involves various dots and ribs – good grief!) and dash over to the tills, clutching them tightly to my chest in hope of obscuring their purpose from other shoppers.

Disaster. There’s now a glacial line snaking past the leftover sandwiches, with only the male shop assistant serving on the tills. I find myself between two young mothers in the queue, who proceed to talk over me about the merits of various different brands of makeup and baby wipes. I *know* they can see what I’m carrying. They’re judging me. Surely he’s too old for all that stuff?

The man on tills is stuck. I consider dumping my purchases in the sandwich fridge and making a run for it. I don’t, as I know I’ll only need to go back and repeat the process somewhere else later. He rings a bell and a competent female assistant appears.

She’s competent in that she can actually serve people without having to consult a manual. So much so, that I’m rapidly in front of her, as the two young mothers now debate the absorbency characteristics of different types of disposable nappies over me.

I place my purchases on the counter. Handing over the cash is relatively painless – except that I’m now calculating how much each night of passion costs. I’m asked if I have a loyalty card.


Do I want one?

No, thank you.

Do I want the app instead?

No, I don’t carry a ‘phone with me that can install one.

Do I want a bag?


I *want* to say that the 10-yard dash across the car park will be far less embarrassing than the ordeal that you and your colleagues and your other customers are putting me through, but I don’t as I’m terrified she’ll insist on me completing some form of customer feedback survey or call the manager over.

Do I want a cosmetics voucher?


I exit, relieved I won’t have to go through that again for some months.