This topic has been on my mind for a while, and in fact a draft has been sitting waiting for completion for some time now. It was my most recent visit to the supermarket that finally prompted me to finish it.

First and foremost, I cannot claim credit for coining the excellent portmanteau that titles this piece. Since I first heard it, I have been using it unashamedly, and I feel it deserves full recognition in the lexicon of our times. Having said that, comparing today’s wandering, aimless, empty-headed urbanites to Neanderthals may be a slight on the latter. Apologies to any pre-Homo-Sapiens who may be reading.

Not a day goes by when I don’t have to weave my way past glassy-eyed fuckwits staring at their phones as they amble down the street unaware of anything around them. Youtube is full of compilations of these idiots (some of these may be staged, but I think we have all seen enough examples in our own day-to-day life). Though many of these are mundane, they can also lead to serious accidents and deaths. While evolutionary theory may suggest that this is simply natural selection, thinning out the herd if you will, are these deaths really occurring to further the advancement of the species? Can’t people just put away their fucking phones for a while? Moreso than when I’m walking, I regularly have to swerve my bike to avoid pedestrians who step blindly onto the road while absorbed in their screens. I had a full collision with one dope last year. I landed quite hard and had a few bruises and grazes down my side. Nothing broken thankfully, but the jackass with whom I collided seemed completely unscathed. Now, maybe he had some internal bleeding and met a grisly end later. One can always dream I suppose.

But it is not only phones of course. People have been perfectly capable of cluelessly stumbling around busy streets blissfully unaware of anybody else around them since the dawn of civilisation. Nowadays, typical behaviours include suddenly getting distracted by something shiny, and stopping dead in their tracks on busy thoroughfares. Or taking up half the street with six (unnecessary) shopping bags in each hand. Or sauntering two-abreast on narrow pathways. SINGLE FILE ASSHOLES. This is not just on the street of course, but in any public place. Why can’t they just make themselves aware of their surroundings, and not be in the bloody way all the time? When you walk out of the door of a busy public building, don’t just stop in your tracks blocking the doorway, decide where you are going next before you exit. Take some ownership of your life for fuck’s sake.

Ok, maybe I’m a bit harsh on that last one. It might have something to do with the illusion of awareness theory, which may also explain why you find yourself standing in the kitchen, wondering what the hell you went in there for. But there’s no excuse for the rest of the behaviour above.

What set me off most recently was going shopping a few days ago. Shopping. That necessary evil. I need to eat. I must shop. And before anyone suggests it, no, I don’t order my grocery shopping online. I abhor sitting around waiting for something to be delivered. I operate on my own schedule, not somebody else’s. So, I have to go to the supermarket every so often. Thankfully I live in walking distance of a large range of supermarkets, and since I hate them all equally and wish to show no brand loyalty, I vary which ones I go to. There is one I have avoided since I moved here however, and that is the local Lidl. Not because I have anything in particular against their business above the other options, but because in Lidl (at least the one on Moore St) they have these absolute bastards of things available:


These super-sized baskets with extra-long handles that are wheeled along the ground are the greatest scourge since the Black Death. Despite being a fraction the size of trolleys, they contrive to take up just as much space. And, worse again, rather than being pushed ahead of people, they are dragged along behind, so our non-self-aware friends are afforded another opportunity to be dimwitted nuisances. They manage to block up entire aisles with their baskets as they gawp slack-jawed at the range of bland pasta sauces on display, perhaps waiting for that thin sliver of dribble to make its way to their chin and plunge to the floor before making their decision. What happens to these people when they have to make an actual important life-decision? I shudder to think.

And to clarify, I’m not talking about elderly or otherwise frail people here. These idiots dragging their plunder around the shop floor are able-bodied people, well able to carry a regular basket. But no, they’d rather be lazy and get in everybody else’s way. Stop being useless and carry your shopping. The same goes for luggage by the way. Fuck drag-along wheelie suitcases. All they do is slow me down as I try to escape airport-purgatory after landing. Why would anyone want to spend a second more than necessary in those soulless shitholes anyway? Get a rucksack. Or at least wheel the blasted thing beside you instead of dragging it, if you insist on a suitcase on wheels.

So, Lidl has been out of bounds for a long time. When I needed my fix of German-budget-supermarket-shopping, I went to Aldi on Parnell St instead. This branch was recently renovated, and reopened a few days ago. To my abject horror, as I attempted to quickly negotiate the new layout and find what I needed, I found my way blocked by these same, horribly designed, clumsy, rage-inducing, donkey-carts of baskets. This was part of the renovation? Introducing these? I fled the scene, having sacrificed some of the items I had intended buying. Aldi Parnell St, auf wiedersehen.

The bane of city living. To avail of all the amenities and everything there is to see and do, we must share the city with other people. I just wish that more of them would wake up and be aware of the others around them. Maybe I’d have been better off in the simpler time of our Neanderthal cousins after all.


15 thoughts on “Meanderthals

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