Dear reader, friend and foe, I recently experienced a cultural phenomenon I thought only existed in American movies and pre-online shopping myth. I was caught in a throng of thirsty bargain seekers, early one morning out the front of a suburban Aldi, anxiously awaiting access to their famed special buys range.
It was a vacuum cleaner that I was seeking, you see, which prompted me to awake early and arrive at the store promptly by 8.20am.
As I pulled my car into the carpark, through the haze of a light early summer rain I could already see the crowd growing. I managed to park close to the entrance, initially deciding that the safest option would be to shelter in my car until the doors opened. As the numbers of shoppers arriving increased, I started to grow nervous; what if they too were searching for the perfect vacuum cleaner to fill the void in their life? A void yearning to be filled with a Dyson but operating on an Aldi budget. These people were suddenly my competition and I needed to cement my spot in the line to ensure that I could claim my dust busting prize.
I slid out of my car, attempting to join the crowd without notice. I spotted a number of people with sack trolleys; this was not their first special buys rodeo. At first, I assumed that they would not be my competition – “who needs a sack trolley to carry a vacuum cleaner?” I mused, “surely they must be after a bigger prize.” I then began to doubt my judgement, wondering if perhaps they were planning to buy vacuum cleaners in bulk. I began to regret not squeezing in some fitness training to prepare for this event.
Talk of dogs and vicious dog breeds is shared between three of the most dedicated and practiced looking bargain hunters. They speak loudly, clearly an attempt to assert their dominance. It seems to be a strange topic to bond the trip however other shoppers listen in with genuine interest, working to interject when they can; perhaps in years to come, anthropologists will discover that in times of crisis such as this, humans attempt to bond by sub consciously bonding to stand united – or we may never know the motives for this bizarre bogan dog chat.
A woman who we will assume is named Beryl mentions the low prices of bananas that she spots through the window – an attempt to ease the tension or a genuine observation, we’ll never know. I’m not even sure it is a good price for bananas. You’d hope that by age twenty-nine I would know what a ‘good price’ for bananas is however I’m just not at that level yet.
A woman is jostling to inch in front of me, using her trolley to poke me out of the way. I turn to give her a look that I hope gently and politely says “fuck off this is my turf”. She points upward to indicate that she is moving because of the rain however to me the fall seems minimal; she is being sneaky and manipulative and as threatened as I feel for the fate of my vacuum, I have to admire her ingenuity.
The doors open and for a moment I think that it will be calm, but the crowd begins to rush, so I too pick up the pace.
A man who we can assume is called Davo has led the pack, he’s charging through with his sack trolley, bouncing quickly despite his weathered appearance; “Grab the washing machine Beryl, I’ll get the upright freezer” – of course he and Beryl are a team. They seemed to hide it well outside, a strategy that I pause momentarily to admire and note for future special buy Saturday expeditions.
I grasp my prize, the 2 in 1 stick vacuum of my dreams. I hold her tight as I walk around the store and an older Greek couple holding the same vacuum cleaner catch my eye. We both exchange a look which says, “you did well fellow shopper, now let’s hope to shit that this is worth the $70 price tag and early morning jostle or it’s back to the dusty drawing board for us.”
Before I leave, I grab three lemons; at the time it seems like the logical thing to buy with a vacuum cleaner. In retrospect, it seems ill thought out. My ability to confidently hold this combination of items is non-existent.
The checkout boy has bathed in after shave – slightly fancier than Lynx Africa but still reminiscent of school busses and shopping malls at 4pm. He has tattoos on his arm – batman and comic characters and stretchers in his ears. This shit wouldn’t fly at Coles or Woolies but this is Aldi, the bad boy of supermarkets. Their staff sit on chairs, anything goes at a place like this.
I exit the store to see a guy with a washing machine load it into the boot of a hatch back, it protrudes out the back, but he has an innovative solution. Packing tape is used in a futile attempt to close the boot and keep the item in place. I hope for his sake that the police aren’t nearby, but considering the suburb, I don’t think his odds are great. I sigh and hope that he doesn’t hurt anyone or ever reproduce, lest his DNA be carried on to another generation.
I leave with cleaner, happy and proud. I fought the good fight, I won myself a coveted prize and you know what? Now I’ve done it once, I’ll probably be back for the snow wear sale in May.