The crunch arrived today, My expected Ocado delivery was a no show. I know there is an apocalypse on but it is so very unlike Ocado not to come, I would expect it from Asda, maybe even Sainsburys but I somehow held onto the hope that James in the Avocado van would brave it all to keep his customers happy. So, cupboards bare of anything I could feed us on without the use of electricity I had to face the prospect of post apocalyptic food shopping.
It took longer than I should really admit to decide that leaving the children in the house while I went out to do whatever a ‘quick shop’ consisted of in this new world we found ourselves in. While finding myself answering hard questions from police and social services was no longer something to worry about my concerns mainly revolved around the many different ways God and Helen could finish off what is left of the human race given the smallest of opportunity.
I contemplated walking for less time than you can say ‘herding cats’ and thankfully the now fully burnt out car on the road outside the house was just far enough along for me to be able to get my Mum tank off the drive. Well almost far enough over but I don’t think I need to worry about insurance claims for the damage caused and maintaining the paint work on my car is so far down the list of priorities it is making itself comfortable along side mowing the lawn and clearing out the loft.
So off we headed through the largely empty suburban streets only seeing a couple of other people out braving this new world and occasionally catching movement of curtains as we passed by homes, you can never put down neighbourhood watch it seems.
I did for the first time start to wonder what had caused this cataclysmic chain of events, I know as well as any parent how quickly things can turn to chaos and violence if you pop upstairs to the loo on your own for a few minutes but given the world had seemed normal on the last day of term two weeks earlier the speed of societies collapse was somewhat suspicious.
My deeper musings were pushed aside once more a short time later as we pulled into the large carpark of the supermarket. The sight before me was a real let down. All the hours of pop culture I had ingested had lead me to expect the opportunity to indulge in some good honest looting. I had been nursing the expectation of grabbing a trolley, sprinting around the store scooping in piles of tins of beans and peas (I can’t really explain why peas, but my fantasy was very precise), I had planned to loot sensibly paying close attention to what would keep the best and be the most versatile, I was going to be the best looter any apocalypse real or fictional had ever seen.
Yet again I had missed it. I had spent too long holding onto the hope of James and his Avocado van. The thing that surprised me wasn’t what you would have expected, empty shelves with everything already stripped out by others was what popular culture had told me would happen but the reality was that a small group of fellow survivors had taken control of the supermarket and were running it like, well, a normal shop.
It was all very civil and sensible and utterly, utterly disappointing. What good was the collapse of society if you didn’t get to have a little fun with it? Clearly there was a slightly higher risk involved than a normal day as evidenced by the heavily armed guards protecting the building but if there had been any rioting and fighting for control I yet again had missed it completely. I did run up against one major sticking point and that was payment.
Clearly cash had no value but to be fair to me I had braved the outside with the expectation of having to fight off crazed survivors for the last tin of peaches found under the empty shelving units (again, precise fantasy is my thing). I had almost looked forward to the excitement after the entire school holidays and three days of hoping with no company or entertainment other than two small bickering children, I felt I had been robbed of an experience by the civilised nature of the set up, I was very close to getting back into the car to go and find somewhere I could scratch my looting itch.
Thankfully the maternal instinct people always seem to bang on about found a way through eventually and I begrudgingly accepted that maybe going looking for trouble with kids in tow might not be the actions of a completely sane and reasonable human being let alone Mother.
I used my full arsenal of available weapons to get enough food to tide us over for a few more days, I drove a tough bargain and the shopkeeper cracked quickly. Who wouldn’t when presented with two crying children and a snotty and sobbing middle aged woman. I had in fact had to bribe the children with the promise of a full fifteen minutes of the remaining laptop battery time if they cried about how hungry and scared they were.
So we are safely back at home with our first visit into the outside world over with. I am still none the wiser on the subject of what on earth happened, the people we met at the shops didn’t want to talk about it, in fact the only time I felt at all worried for our safety was when I asked the question. I am starting to wonder if everybody else who has survived also missed it but are as embarrassed as me about this fact and that is why they are so defensive.