We are lucky enough to be close to the main distributors for Chinese food in London. Most of their money obviously comes from the wholesale trade but they cater for us little people too.
My first feeling is always one of insignificance. Me and my little car parking between the thirty-odd articulated lorries on their day of rest. This soon changes to excitement as I browse the isles and choose my goods. There is then the bewilderment that is the check-out.
Service is very good but very frustrating.
Your shopping is packed for you. Fine if, like the man in front of me, you have bought enough to stock the kitchen of your restaurant for the next week and the whole lot needs carting out on two big flat trolleys. I had a carrier bag's worth of food. No-one was around to pack so I attempted to pick up a bag myself. “NO!” shouts the woman on the till scaring me half to death. “NO!”. So that left me stood there like a lemon until a packer came back from the car park.
Only once the goods are packed can you pay. Embarrassingly, everyone seemed to be paying with huge wads of money. £675 here, £567 there. I only had my card. Big mistake. The cashier wrote 11.66 on the back of a piece of paper and started shouting in Cantonese. I had to wait for another packer to come and collect the paper and my card and take it to a till at the other end of the shop. I did try to follow - “NO!”. Two minutes later I was shooed along to the till to enter my PIN. I asked if I could take my card back but no that wasn't to be. “We bring. We bring” and I was sent back to stand at my original till until someone was available to return the card to me. I contemplated making a run for the car with my shopping but the cashier's beady eye was on me so I waited for the man with no teeth to come to collect the bag and escort me out.
My final feeling was, not surprisingly, one of overwhelming relief.