harriet the spy

When I was a kid I used to love the book Harriet the Spy. She was the best. She used to play detective and run around with a notebook taking notes on everyone she knew and complete strangers. Of course her notebook was eventually discovered and she learned that you can’t go about writing mean (or honest) things about people without them getting pissed off. Clearly I learned nothing from that book and took only the parts that I liked as things to carry forward in life.

Today I was at the grocery store for my Sunday shop. Standing in the queue for what seemed like a lifetime (what can I say, I’m an impatient American and I can’t stand watching the slow checkout people devoid of life slowly swiping barcodes when a monkey could probably accomplish the job more quickly and enthusiastically). However, before I get sidetracked into the substandard artform of bad customer service in countries outside the US let me get to my original point…


This particular morning didn’t actually annoy me as much as most times I’m in a queue. I found it actually entertaining to watch everyone at the store and observe their baskets. OK – I was spying. I was invading their personal space by staring rudely into their baskets to see what they had purchased. I tend to do this when I go to the store. I have a strange curiosity to look at their purchases so that I can surmise exactly what category they fall into. So like my hero Harriet I decided to take notes on what I observed and what category people fall into by the contents of their baskets… And they all fall into a category…I have listed what I have come up with thusfar.

Single men shoppers

Any age male by themselves. Basket contents: Ready made meals, beer and toilet paper (the only reason that they have actually been forced to the store is their lack of toilet paper, the rest is just an afterthought of that)

Bad (welfare) mother shoppers

Can range in age from early 20s to 40s (hard to tell their age). Typically with snotty-nosed, screaming children attached to their arms. Basket contents: An abnormal amount of Capri-sun boxes, sugary cereal, frozen pizza and a copy of News of the World

Save the World shoppers

Women in their mid 30s with curly hair. Easily spotted by the fact that they bring their own recyclable carry bags with them to pack everything into. Basket contents: Organic everything, goat cheese and 5 bottles of red wine

Trolly Dolley shoppers

Old ladies on a fixed income. Can be spotted carrying their own trolleys to pack things into. Basket contents: Digestives, tea, milk, non-brand named toilet paper

Drunkard shoppers

Usually men in their mid 50s and upwards. Basket contents: 10 bottles of the cheapest prosecco and 1 tin of baked beans

The Cat Lady shoppers

Not to be confused with the trolley dolleys. Cat ladies can range anywhere from 35-75 and usually don’t buy too much food for themselves. Can be spotted by either a faint smell of cat urine or a cat pin somewhere on their coat lapel. Basket contents: 4 tins of cat food and 1 bottle of red wine

Flatmate / Single Female PMSd shoppers

Usually in their late 20s to mid 30s. Can be spotted by hair in ponytails, glasses on (because they don’t care to impress anyone). Usually double bags contents to reuse plastic sacks as trash bags. Basket contents: Salad, yogurt, Special K, toothpaste, 2 bottles of Merlot, 1 tub of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, premium 2 ply toilet paper and tampons

Husband on a Mission shoppers

Sent by wife to find a missing ingredient or on their way home from work. Can be spotted looking lost with a piece of paper (the list). Basket contents: Can range from anything obscure like tarragon to tampons

Poor student shoppers

Has a studenty broke look. Usually uses cash (change) to pay for purchases and only buys 2-3 items. Uses backpack to carry goods. Basket contents: Pot noodles