Aoife and Eli beat online any time

Those Pampers would be quite comfortable on me, baby MJ Comerford appears to be saying to his granddad as the pair amble at SuperValu, Loughboy

Comment and Opinion – By Jimmy Rhatigan

Pic: Donal Foley

DURING the week I came across two fantastic reasons why I should never, if possible, change to online grocery shopping from my usual rambling in local supermarkets.

As one who steers away from online shopping, it is perhaps easy for me to proffer browsing shelves in different departments of stores in preference to sitting at a computer or some other electronic device and keying in a shopping list to be delivered to my home.

I used the words ‘if possible’ in paragraph one as I do accept that online shopping can be a gift if you are old or infirm, poor on the pins or simply find that what you might at a particular stage of your life refer to the drudgery of queuing at checkouts and hauling groceries.

Thank God, I still delight in visits to all three of my local supermarkets in Loughboy, SuperValu, Aldi and Lidl, a trinity of Aladdin’s Caves in their own peculiar ways, all with attractions, bargains too, a combination of which may provide the ideal shopping basket, good value and healthy fare.

The shopping sprees, or rather nosy ambles, were prompted by the arrival of our first grandson, a beautiful bundle of joy who loves to be pushed in his pram in the wide open spaces of Loughboy and thrives on talking, well goo-going after 12 months of his active young life, as he loves the attention of girls in particular, young and young at heart.

MJ started the wheels of supermarket exploration rolling.

And he loves the local café too, The Ragazzi is where he gets the undivided attention of four wonderful staff members, Natalie, Joan, Niki and Dayna, alonw with proprietor Paul, all of whom  ever so kindly return his bottle to him after he grins and throws it out of his pram.

MJ wins the award for putting the local supermarkets on my map.

Two other little children we met during the week convinced me that there is one way only to shop, grab a basket or carry your bits and pieces in your hands and as you amble you will find that the interaction with other customers is worth its weight in gold.

The notion was that the world of the supermarket was a place where you would enjoy a chat with a fellow adult or adults.

That’s far from the case.

Children too enjoy a good natter, as we discovered in Aldi.

Firstly, MJ and me met Aoife, a bubbly and very chatty four year old who was shopping with her mother Una.

Aoife opened the chat.

What is the baby’s name was the first of her many questions.

She had told us her age, the date of her birthday and confided that she loved babies, boys and girls.

And who is your favourite, I asked?

MJ was the reply, pointing to my pram full.

She promised she would send me an invite to her birthday but when asked where she lived she didn’t give too much away.

Kilkenny was her reply.

We parted company, promising to meet again, but just before we faded into the evening she said goodbye to us at the shop door.

The exchange was beautiful, terrific, the highlight of any day.

A mere 24 hours later we experienced a similar performance.

MJ and me were buying craft beer, for me not MJ, when a smashing young fellow, standing in his mother’s shopping trolley gave us a cheerful ‘hello’.

Again the chatter was heart-warming, mighty, superb, enlightening. We discovered that Eli lives on the periphery of our city.

He did give us his exact address but that sort of data we will not share.

Again he said he was four years old and that his next birthday is on October 17. He invited us to his party and on behalf of MJ and me, I accepted the invitation.

Like little Aoife, Eli was as bright as a button and we got a kick out of watching him helping his mother unloading a trolley of food on to the mini conveyor belt that carries goods to the man or woman in charge of a checkout.

Now, I ask, would you be happier sitting on your own at a Dell or Asus, sending your online order or experiencing the joys of life in the corridors of brilliance that are part of the magic world that is our local supermarkets in the greater Loughboy area?

I know where my vote is going and will continue to go as long as my pins will be capable of taking me walking and I have the energy to push a pram.

Widening any scope of a debate on personal shopping and online purchasing, the argument has to be that going to a shop, browsing, chatting to staff and customers can be an uplifting experience particularly when compared with the chore of sitting alone in front of a computer .

At least that is how MJ and me feel at the moment.

Perhaps that will change when my little buddy puts a few sentences together and that won’t be too far away as he is learning very quickly.