With the pandemic fast-tacking a shift to online shopping and the fuel price making delivery 'much-of-a-muchness' , something's "gotta give", right? Indeed, service, well-being and safety have been sacrificed at the altar of convenience.
If I never hear the beep of a (hand-held) scanner in a supermarket again it will be too soon. Barging, rushed, unsmiling bikers-in-bibs occupy the aisles and check-outs, while in-store shoppers narrowly avoid being flung to the floor. We are, after all, an inconvenience.
Don't be mistaken: I love online shopping, as does my family. and I frequently Uber to the (Gautrain) station en route to client workshops. But I am rethinking who I shop with: in favour of service (stock levels, experience in-store, happy employees) and well-being (ours and theirs). As a frequenter of most major retailers (often led by specials), I now unabashedly support those who do things slower, and take time to connect with customers, or at least not disconnect.
Consider how many things in life are best enjoyed slowly, from holidays to a spa date or a sundowner with friends. In defiance of the rush of life in my city, I now plan time to walk around shops, because I sit too much already. I take time to browse the shelves, because the 'app' items exclude quite a few that I prefer. I make a morning of it, when I can, enjoying a cup of coffee with my wife (admittedly, she may prefer tea) after a good shop. I'm not too different from my 86 year-old Dad after all, it seems: he only leaves his retirement home to shop. Our bodies were made to move, to dance, to express emotions - more than just sit.
The challenge with online shopping is very often the self-imposed time-limits. I don't really need the groceries in 60 minutes. Within four hours would be good (especially if Eskom is limiting our power consumption for that period, anyway). Who decided that 60 minutes is enough to ensure gracious shopping by the drivers and safe driving on the roads? My experience is that these "riders on the storm" exit parking areas with wild abandon, not careful attention. There are consequences if they are late - often for the rider and not the company who employs them. As a 'vigorous' driver in my 4x4, I am still often passed by delivery scooters, in the rain or not. I fear for their lives, and ours, too, if the trend towards convenience trumps safety and service.
Our hearts need connection and our minds need stimulation and creative challenges. Let's prioritise these, as much as we prioritise convenience. Maybe ask how soon we need groceries, with (heaven-forbid) discounts for slower delivery. Or subscribe us for regular delivery, building relationships, securing employment for drivers and ensuring planning for products and delivery schedules. Am I the only one who would sign up today? We may even find that this enhances our sense of community.
All we have to lose is about 60.minutes...