Friends, we need to talk about Aldi.
Or rather, I need you to explain it to me. Because quite frankly, I just do not get it.
Yesterday I ventured into the new Aldi store near my house to buy a loaf of bread, butterflied chicken that had been recommended to me, and to check out their mould cleaner spray that I had read about. I did not think this would be a difficult task.
Indeed, my shopping experience started off as I expected, as I cruised past the usual supermarket items:
Fruit and veg, tick.
At this point I was a bit unsure, as none of the meat and chicken labels looked familiar, but I had been assured that they sell Australian meat and I found the chicken I was looking for, so I was currently winning at life.
Then I rounded the corner to the next aisle and this is where I started to lose my mind.
Down the left-hand side of the aisle was not too unusual: biscuits and potato chips, all in brightly coloured packaging, although again I did not recognise the brands which kept me slightly off kilter. However, there was a grooved potato chip that looked suspiciously like the “Ruffles” I used to eat for recess each day at primary school: nothing like a bit of nostalgia to put you at ease.
But then I glanced to my right…..
What in the holy hell was this hot mess?
Piles and piles of random ‘stuff’ that continued endlessly through to the front of the store.
Look to my left: biscuits.
Look to my right: 50 litre tins of house paint, step ladders, dry shampoo….
Left: Potato chips.
Right: Curtains, body lotion, oh look: a washing machine….
Look back to the left: couldn’t see anything because I was too distracted by the last thing I noticed on the right. Wedged between a pile of Hi-Vis shirts on one side and kettles on the other, was a very large ball of crocheted twine that I’m guessing (and it is a complete an utter stab in the dark) was some kind of ottoman type furniture piece?
One look at that macramé monstrosity and I knew that if it ever entered my lounge room it would last two minutes max before one of my boys picked it up and threw it at the other, probably knocking over the TV. Still, it was only $5.99 because it was some kind of “hot buy” so good deal, right?
All of this random stuff had me so baffled, like Alice in Wonderland I was so far down the rabbit hole of that centre aisle my head was spinning. I had no hope of finding the cleaning products that everybody raves about, so I grabbed a loaf of bread, gave up on finding the $2 miracle mould remover and headed for the checkout.
Moving from that centre aisle to the checkout at Aldi is – I imagine – akin to flying from Trump’s America to Boris Johnson’s Britain: trading one bizarro world for another.
Despite the fact there was only one checkout open it was only a matter of seconds after being sucked into the vortex of loading the groceries onto the conveyor belt that I could feel the cortisol levels rising. It was like being funnelled through a tunnel of anxiety, the tension building as you wonder whether you will be able to pack your groceries fast enough. Is that why the ridiculously high shelves lining the checkout line are filled with chocolates? So you can inhale Kit Kats to deal with the adrenaline coursing through your veins?
The checkout vortex quickly took my money and spat me out the other end, and I emerged relatively unscathed: physically, that is. Mentally I’m still a bit off balance.
Incidentally, the “to die for” butterflied chicken that I went in to buy in the first place was declared by my family to be quite ordinary, so perhaps I don’t need to go back to Aldi after all.
Does anyone else get Aldi anxiety or is it just me?