I make the walk to a local supermarket two or three times every week. If I’m in good health, the return journey takes slightly less than an hour. If I have a migraine, the same journey can take an hour and a half or more, depending on what symptoms a particular attack displays. (Occasionally it results in me getting lost, but that’s a story for another day.)
One day last week, I was traipsing up and down the aisles trying to remember why I was there, when a young lady stopped me. I don’t know whether she chose me because I was the only other person in the aisle, or whether it was because I had wandered past her on several occasions without trolley or basket, and she assumed I was a staff member.
No matter. Stopped me she did. From her accent I assume she was either American or Canadian. She wanted to know where she could find the infant formula as it couldn’t be found in the baby isle where she thought it should be. I told her it’s not kept on the shelves, and she would need to ask for it when she went through the checkout. From her reaction, it was clear she doubted my honesty, so I felt the need to explain why baby and infant formula was not available off the shelf.
In hindsight, I was in the prodrome stage of a migraine, during which time my family have noticed I sometimes become “hyper” and tend to info dump (probably an Aspergers trait coming to the fore). On this particular occasion I went into considerable detail regarding the fact that due to a terrorism threat, all baby and infant formula products have been withdrawn from supermarket shelves, and are kept away from public access and are constantly monitored by CCTV to ensure the products are not tampered with.
I had got to the point where I was explaining that the police had yet to make an arrest, and were at the stage of investigating every known animal rights proponent, and not just activists, when she hurriedly thanked me and left.
I have no idea whether the young lady purchased any formula or not, but I wonder what affect I had in reinforcing or damaging our “clean green” reputation. Did my explanation convey the image that Aotearoa New Zealand was a dangerous place for infants, or did it give her assurance that NZ takes food safety seriously and that there was no risk to her child? I wish I knew.
I’ve been thinking about how the current state of affairs has affected Kiwis. Although I don’t frequent circles where feeding babies is likely to be a popular topic for conversation, I’ve seen little conversation on the topic since the first few weeks when the threat was made public.
Is this complacency, or confidence in the safety of our food chain, or a thumbing of our collective noses to terrorism? Hopefully it’s the latter two, and not complacency. However, knowing the kiwi “she’ll be right” mentality, I wonder how much thought we have put into why a product is hidden from public view. Retailers have reported no downturn in sales.