If you grew up in the 1990s in a small suburban mining town in the North East of England, and often shopped at the only big supermarket in town, you probably spent a lot of time in Asda*. I would also be surprised if I don’t know you. I did spend a lot of my childhood there though, or at least I have memories to that effect.
For whatever reason as a child I seemed to hate two things, walking, and walking. And unfortunately for me, walking is and was the primary mode of transport in a supermarket – I was too big to fit in the trolley* at this stage. Now, you have a few options here, you can firstly try to commandeer the shopping trolley from your mum and run as fast as you can, holding your weight forward and spinning around blind corners. Secondly, in the Asda growing up they had little square lino tiled flooring, presumably because mud or straw based floors were too cheap.
The thing with the tiles though is that every 7th random tile was a shadow of brown or green only found in the 90s. The rest were beige. Opportunity! It was possible to play an adapted game of ‘the floor is lava’, but in this version you were always on the floor, so beige was lava – a life lesson I’ve carried with me since.
It was tricky as a 7 year old; the gaps were challenging, especially around the milk section. The toiletry isle was known as ‘death alley’. The instant dread we felt when we needed to pick up an 18 pack of
sand paper Smart Price toilet paper. Paying was the easy stretch, it was like the Champs-Élysées stage of the tour de France. It was a formality really, especially as you could support yourself on both counters.
Occasionally there were burns, of course there were. It was a dangerous sport, but we all lived to tell the tale.
Today I had the worst adapted game of the floor is lava in a long time, probably even since the Asda days. Today was move out day. A series of big triggers all laid out in front of me, with only terribly coloured floor tiles for safety.
The day was long to begin with as we only got back from Krakow in Poland at 5am, arriving on the bus I could see lava on the horizon. It was coming. First up it was cleaning and finishing packing in time for the new tenant to arrive. Tick, that was easy – milk isle all day long. Still had to get the 6 suitcases, backpacks and handbags to the bus depot as our flight leaves from Slovakia. This was a toilet paper run for sure, I was anxious that we were over some luggage limits and we wouldn’t get on.
The safety of the coloured
tile bus was something to cherish. Reading a book about Dr Mendeles assistant at Auschwitz certainly takes your mind of anxiety.
The respite was needed though because just before this a huge dollop of anxiety struck when trying to check in for the flight. The company, which rhymes with Flyin’ Chair, told me I wasn’t able to check in because of the length of time I have left on my passpor (5 onths). I don’t know which part of the analogy it would fit in best, but maybe the Asda canteen which was some brown low grade carpet, aka insta-death. After a call to the embassy and a call to the Flyin’ Chair customer service team it was resolved.
As things often turn out where anxiety is concerned – everything was fine. I’m now in a
refuge for the recently divorced hotel near Bratislava airport and there are just a few more bits of lava to navigate. Getting the (very heavy) bags on time to the airport, getting them checked in, making the flight, get the bags checked on to a bus in Dublin before finally, finally I can bask in the final ‘counter’ run before leaving the store.
*This shop actually moved when I was a bit older, it not only moved but it tripled in size; to include an opticians, a clothes shop, an electrical department, a bank, and much more. Interestingly the local council are still trying to figure out where all the local businesses and local shops have gone. Also if you need the fire brigade or a policeman, you may have to wait as they demolished both, and moved them to the fringes of town to make space for the superstore. It couldn’t be anymore ‘Wall-E’ if it tried.
*A Trolley is what us British people call what American people call a ‘Shopping Cart’.