In today's 'on demand' consumer climate, it's quite a shock to find something unavailable. “You want it your way? You got it!” screams the marketplace. I can now order trainers that are made to measure, credit cards with my pets on them and bespoke 4x4s. Even politicians are thrown into a spin because the spectre of designer babies is (apparently) at the foot of the slippery slope that is stem cell research.
So imagine my disgust as a consumer when I discovered as I did my household shopping this evening (yes, I chose to visit my grocery store at 9:15pm on a Sunday) that I couldn't buy the garlic aioli dip I wanted. It wasn't merely sold out or temporary out of stock; the price tag was no longer on the shelf, there wasn't anything else available from the range and the space among the other dips was now occupied by something called Tasty Trout Seasoner. I felt outraged and wanted to complain. How could the store not have the item I wanted. Whatever happened to the customer is always right? When did Flemington become Communist Russia? What next? Replacing bread with Nutritious Wheaty Slice?
Before my fury could start curdling the dairy section, I stopped asking a pottle of nouveau riche fish paste rhetorical questions and let my anger subside. The world hadn't fallen over when the Malaysian-spiced chicken fillets I liked had been cancelled, nor had anarchy reigned following the non-availability of Bubble and Squeak Veggie Patties. I realised that I had become so spoilt by the variety of choice available to me I took it personally when one of the options had been removed. What had I done to pull down the wrath of the Ǚber-Marché? I can change, I can be a better shopper. I'll redeem my coupons, make full use of the Christmas savings plan and put my trolley back in the bay instead of leaving it at the foot of the car park like I had that one time I just popped in for milk and then rushed home so I wouldn't miss the start of House.
At this point I realised I'd started bargaining with an imaginary God of the supermarket. I was scared that I would begin grieving over my lost Aioli or denying that I even wanted it in the first place so I skipped ahead, accepted that it was gone and moved on to the next item on the list.