In general, I’m not plagued by too much anxiety when I’m at the shops, I just don’t enjoy shopping. There are, however, individual circumstances in which I experience anxiety, for example: reversing into or out of a parking space (fear of being judged as a crap driver); having to ask a member of staff where a product is (fear of saying something stupid); going to the checkout (although this is as much about having disdain for small talk as it is about feeling awkward). These annoyances very rarely prevent me from doing those things, however, but they are par for the course.

This morning, however, I realised just how anxious I become at the self-serve checkout. Now, this is something that I do two to three times a week, and have done for years, so it’s nothing new; neither is it something I’ve ever attempted to avoid. Yet, I seemingly experience quite intense performance anxiety. I’m worried that I’m in the way of other shoppers, that I’m going too slow and holding people up (que my fear of confrontation), but the funniest (thank god I have a sense of humour) is the fact that I worry that the way I pack my bags is weird, and that other shoppers are judging me harshly for it – which is insane! Additionally, I’m plagued with thoughts that the staff member thinks I’m a criminal, and that I’ll accidentally forget to scan something and set off the alarms. Embarrassingly, in an effort to prevent any suspicion, I walk away from the checkout slowly (because a thief wouldn’t do that, right?) and hang around just outside the shop pretending to peruse the receipt for a few moments (seriously!).

Obviously, this is nothing new, and it is something I experience each time I go shopping. Perhaps the reason I became so aware of it today was simply because I’ve been actively looking for material to write about. Who knows?! I’m just glad that I can see the funny side of it. That’s not to say I approach all such situations with the same attitude, though; but that’s a story for another time.

Aksenty Ivanovich Poprishchin.