Friday, 2 February 2018

Getting some packaged food

This is the third in a series of blogposts that I started last month. They aim to capture a moment in time and I call them meditations.

The other day I went down to the supermarket to stock up my freezer with the frozen dinners I rely on in the evenings for sustenance. I had a scare last year when my blood sugar levels went up to an alarming point. My general practitioner organised for me to talk with a dietitian on a scheme funded by the government. Under this scheme I got five free visits with a dietitian, who turned out to be a middle aged woman who liked dresses that showed her legs. We would sit in a room in the same clinic where my GP sees his patients and talk about what I ate, and based on these discussions we made a meal plan that would do a number of things.

First, it had to have as its main aim the reduction of blood sugar levels, so I had to reduce the amount of carbohydrates that I eat. Second, it had to contain enough vitamins and minerals to make for a balanced diet, so I promised to eat more salads and vegetables. Thirdly, it had to have some elements that were easy to find, so it was ok to get a sandwich or a few plates of sushi for lunch. Fourth, there had to be some things in the diet that I enjoyed eating, so it was decided that once a month I would eat the blue cheese that I particularly enjoy.

Part of my plan was eating the kind of prepared meals that you buy in the freezer section of the supermarket, so every week or so I go down there and buy five or six of these meals and bring them home, where they go straight into the freezer. When I need to eat I take a meal out of the freezer and read the cooking instructions on the carboard box before programming the microwave and setting it to run with the packaged meal inside. Used containers are rinsed the next morning and with the boxes go into the recycling bin that sits on my washing machine.

The supermarket is located in a small arcade that has been built into an office building that sits on a street that takes workers from the CBD to the suburbs immediately to its west. The building is constructed on a slope and the levels where you can enter the arcade are different at different points. At one point, there is a long staircase leading from the street level down into the arcade and at the opposite end there is a short set of steps and a gentle slope that gets you to the arcade’s floor. The supermarket is located at this end of the arcade.

The arcade has a number of shops in it, including a restaurant, a cafĂ©, a travel agent, and a bottle shop. The supermarket is the main draw, however, and lots of people flow through the arcade after the normal workday is over because many people walk to and from work. The suburb the supermarket is in is also one of the country’s most densely-populated, with most residents living in apartments in its many high-rise buildings.

Charities often set up tables in the arcade hoping to get people to buy raffle tickets to support their causes or to get people to subscribe to a plan where they donate a set amount of money each month through their credit cards. The other day when I was there a local gym named Movement Republic had set up a table in the arcade in an effort to get people to sign up for a training plan or a season pass, I wasn’t sure.

The company had also stencilled its name on the pavement of a development just up the street from me where the light rail station has its access staircase and its lifts. I had taken a photo of the stencil thinking erroneously that it had been put there to recruit participants for a meeting about the Republican movement in Australia.

On the day I went shopping, as I was leaving the supermarket with my backpack full of frozen meals and blue cheese and crackers, I passed by the automatic teller machine near the arcade’s entry where a number of people had queued up to use it. I also saw two workmen leaning back against the handrail installed on the slope to help people who might have mobility issues. One of the men wore a red-and-black checked flannel shirt and he had his arms crossed over his large stomach. The man to his right, nearer to me, wore a high-vis vest and he also had his arms crossed. He was as heavy as his companion. The two men had heavy boots on their feet.

In front of them, talking with the two men, a slim older man wearing a grey suit and a tie was standing. He carried a briefcase in his left hand. In contrast to that of his two interlocutors, who both slouched with their lower backs resting against the metal rail, his posture was absolutely erect. In fact he seemed to be leaning forward slightly from the waist and his jaw appeared to jut out purposefully. The three men turned their heads to look straight at me as I walked past and stopped talking among themselves. It was just a momentary interruption of an engrossing conversation.

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