Never shop at Asda when you are cold.
(Asda, for my American followers, is the British discount grocery chain bought out by Wal-Mart in 1999. Britain has been officially “Wal-Martized.” Yay.) I had only nipped in the other day to pick up some chili peppers and a few bits and pieces, but, frozen to the core, I was drawn inexorably to the clothing aisle where I purchased, very much on impulse, a pretty cream chenille sweater shot through with subtle gold threads.
As I curled my fingers around the hanger and enclosed it in my cold dead hand, I had a brief yet lively fantasy about sipping cocoa with Jim Carrey on some sofa in Aspen while he regaled our ski party with his ever-charming flatulent pyrotechnics.
I am not entirely sure if this was a good fantasy, but there you have it. It’s out there.
The sweater, while a trifle boxy, had the charming addition of a deep cream georgette ruffle at its hem, just long enough to cover up all those awkward places inevitably revealed by a pair of tight jeggings; things really only meant to be seen by one’s marriage mate or their lady-doctor, (and even then, only in the proper lighting), by which I mean everything spanning from navel to mid thigh.
I figured, hey, it is perfect. I may not get a cuddle from Jim Carrey, but I’ll look fantastic in this cheap little number.
Now, when clothes shopping at Asda, one never, ever, EVER uses the black-curtained changing rooms at the back of the children’s section. You can guarantee they will ensure you all the privacy of a Venezuelan voting booth, hanging a good 18 inches off the floor. And, being located in the children’s section, this is just the right height for some drizzly toddler to crawl under and be traumatized for life as you struggle to cover the bases and explain to security that, no, you did NOT invite this child to join you…
So, no. You do not ever try on clothes at Asda. Ever. You discreetly pop them in your trolley, spirit them home (and hope no one saw you buying Asda clothes), try them on in the darkened secrecy of your bedroom, and IF (this is a big IF) they fit, you clip their tags and they have found their forever home.
If for any reason you do not like your purchase, for example, if it either doesn’t fit or if it makes you look like a middle-aged ballerina wearing a swim-ring under her clothes, (like THAT would ever happen…) you are left then with a couple of options:
Option 1: You can take advantage of Asda’s excellent returns policy and approach the Service Desk. You can’t miss it. It is located at the front of the store, situated prominently between the 50 checkouts and the toilets, sandwiched between the drycleaning and the photo lab, impossible to avoid if you are en route to the McDonalds. (In Asda, as in Walmart, everyone is en route to McDonalds.)
The Service Desk is the best-lit area of the entire store. In fact, I am pretty sure there is a bank of spotlights hanging just above it, and the microphone next to the smiling assistant is always on. I mean, ALWAYS. These measures taken by the good people of Asda ensure that each and every shopper has an excellent view of, as well as an audio track to accompany, your humiliating return.
It doesn’t matter that your audience are fellow Asda shoppers. Everyone else queuing up at the tills are FOOD shoppers. As you shield your bag with its tell-tale hanger shape and cast a furtive glance over your shoulder, you can see the other shoppers patting their British cabbages and aged joints of Scottish beef eyeing you with clear disapproval. They shake their heads. They pity you. This is all part of a ceremonial pack ritual to remind you, as you had obviously forgotten, that Asda is where you buy food. This is a FOOD store. They may not be posh Waitrose shoppers, they are thrifty enough to appreciate a bargain, but they KNOW where to draw the line on how low, as a society, any standard ought to drop.
This is also to remind you that, American though you may be, this is England.
*cue strains of “Rule Britannia!”*
Food bargains from British producers: Good.
Food bargains from EU producers: Tolerable. Just about.
Cheap third-world-produced clothing that feeds the Evil Capitalist Machine and has 4-year-old Indonesian children sewing on buttons in smoky sweatshops: Bad.
Which explains why I went for Option 2: Clip the tags, swallow your £12 loss and donate to the nearest charity shop. Preferably one that benefits poor children sewing buttons in sweatshops.
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