I have the unenviable task of having to do my weekly shop with my brother since I crashed and wrote off my own car late last year and as we both usually rub each other up the wrong way, this single forced jaunt can cause friction. I’m indebted to him really as it makes my life so much easier and saves me a small fortune in taxi fares, so to sound like I’m complaining isn’t really my intention at all as I’m completely grateful for his help. The problem is our personalities clash, which is probably due to the fact we both know we have no alternative to our every-seven-days brotherly trip, and either I’ll end up annoying him - or as in this example from our latest escapade - he’ll manage to annoy me with his rhetorical flummery.
He picked me up at 6.55 in the morning due to his belief Asda will be empty at that time; he’s right of course and missing the queues is one benefit of dragging one’s self out of early slumber but it also means we’re both half-asleep and cranky. This week however we managed to contain our opinions for once and reached the superstore in good time, unable to recall what generalities we’d uttered but safe in the knowledge we were getting on okay. With an already blistering early-morning sun baking down upon us, we strolled across the mostly empty car park and towards Asda’s automatic double doorway; grabbing a trolley apiece, my brother and I had to skirt around a lone cleaner struggling with a mountain of broken bottles and we side-glanced at one another in pity for his pains as we entered.
Once inside, things are made easier for both of us as we go our separate ways and progress individually onwards and towards any available open checkout - which with this being early morning usually means just the solitary one - where its bags packed with just the trip back home to contend with. So, I popped my MP3 player’s headphones in to block out the harsh drone of an over-loud tannoy and began to pick my essential gruel and slops for the coming week. As I wandered around the superstore’s aisles, occasionally we’d catch a glimpse of each other as we both crossed one of the many intersections; we’d let on, sometimes with a nod or sometimes with a grunt if close enough and then both of us would disappear, maybe into DRINKS or perhaps off through DAIRY.
Now, near the end of my aisle-hopping jaunt I turned into the final passageway that runs across the full width of this Asda store; starting on my side as CLEANING SUPPLIES, it finally turns into BREAKFAST CEREALS over on the other section. Looking up from perusing washing-up liquid or some other similar shit, I spotted my brother in the distance - hands on his hips - appearing overwhelmed with all the stodge choice lining the shelves before his eyes. With my trolley wheels squeaking on the freshly, buffed linoleum, I set off approaching him, avoiding the Asda employee sat upon his automated floor cleaning machine as I crossed over into the cereals section.
“Alright” I said as I arrived next to my brother, “what you’re looking for...?”
Without looking at me he mumbled, “Oat-bran,” then began pointing at the multitude of boxes and packets stacked upon the shelves before us.
I felt my eyebrows begin to scrunch together. “Oat-bran...?! Never heard of it!” left my mouth as I tried to find it in front of us. “What’s it look like?”
“It’s packed in clear plastic, like that there...” and with this, he pointed at some Muesli on the bottom shelf. “But I can’t see it anywhere...”
I glanced around but it wasn’t there; however I spotted a pack of oats. “Well, here’s some oats...” I said as I picked up the packet and turned, “... so all you need is a pack of bran... er, here it is.” With that, I lifted up and held out a pack of bran. “Here you are - ‘oat-bran’”.
My bother looked at them, then at me and shook his head in disgust as he turned back to the shelves one more. “No, what I’m looking for is a breakfast called ‘oat-bran’, in a clear plastic packet and not in two separate f**king boxes, alright?”
“Yeah but, this is exactly the same! Just oats and bran but not mixed in one bag!” I said slightly annoyed, still holding the two boxes, “There’s no difference...”
With this, my brother turned and wandered off, speaking as he went. “I’ll go and ask one of these clowns who work here,” and with this, he walked away muttering “They must have it here!”
This left me feeling like a right tool for having tried to help and as I put the packets back on their shelves, I spun my trolley around and headed for the checkouts shaking my head.
Luckily, I was the second in line behind an old woman who only had a basket of cat food, so I started organising my stuff on the conveyer belt in order of delicateness first, robust construction last. Yes, I know I made a schoolboy error as my tins crushed my fruit and veg’ but I was wound up through the whole ‘oat-bran’ fiasco. Then I spotted my brother passing by to another checkout.
“Have they got it then?” I asked as I flopped a loaf and a box of plum tomatoes onto the belt driven surface.
He sauntered past without looking at me. “No” came the terse reply.
“Did you get the separate oats and bran then?” I said between grappling with four bottles of Asda’s own spring water and a copy of the Guardian.
Still avoiding eye contact with me, my brother uttered “Why would I do that?! It’s not f**king ‘oat-bran’, is it?!”
That was that then and no more was mentioned between us about the hard-to-find ‘oat-bran’ during our journey home as I couldn’t face a diatribe regarding the obvious differences. Pulling up at my house, I thanked him for the lift and juggling an over-spilling holdall stuffed with my buying in, staggered to my security door and stumbled through once the entry fob had been swiped. I couldn’t help laughing at the whole morning performance and my brother’s inability to find his new cereal but had to give him a silent acknowledgement as I tucked into my new, tasty breakfast: a pack of oats and a pack of bran had come home with me and ‘bran-oats’ had been discovered, albeit with a little unintentional help.