Of lists and shopping

We don’t think much about shopping lists, but to Claudia Aalderink they are windows to the soul…

The Dictionary describes a list as ‘a number of connected items or names written or printed consecutively, typically one below the other.’

As human being we like working with lists because it gives us a guideline to execute certain ways of handling things. Lists are a way of creating an inventory of what needs to be done, what you know, to get ideas or how to go about something. For example, a to-do-list at the start of a week, or picking a name for a newborn baby, how to create those Smokey eyes in an easy to follow 7 steps, or 20 ways to improve your business. All examples founded on lists.

It starts at birth where our name is picked from a list and it ends with a bucket list. Lists are forever part of our lives and if we follow the list, success is guaranteed?

The most common used list and one most people can identify with is the shopping list. People make use of lists to create order and arrange what they have floating in their heads in an orderly fashion. Shopping lists are used to extend our memory and enable us to forget it the moment we write it on the list. We rely on lists for that same reason. And when we leave the list on the kitchen bench and arrive at the shop without it, panic takes over and we come home with maybe 20 percent of the original list.

Looking at shopping list as a tool for arranging thoughts, one could take an open approach and not think much of it. However, if you look a bit closer, you will discover a world of interesting human behaviours and individual personality. What does a shopping list say about the person who wrote it? This is something that I have been analyzing for a while and I have collected a large mixture of shopping lists that I found on my travels to the supermarket.

I have noticed that people use a variety of methods in creating a list. Some have a combined list where I imagine all family members write whatever comes to mind resulting in a colourful and interesting list because of the different input, pens used as well as handwritings. It reflects the family dynamics in that way. Others use a very organized approach where prices are added to the products and in order of appearance in the shop, all for the sake of efficiency, of course. Time is money! Some cramp all their thoughts on a tiny piece of paper and others use an A4 size for three items. All interesting breakdowns of how the human mind works, I believe.

The intimacy of a shopping list reveals so much of the person that it becomes enchanting.

That little anonymous list that you think nobody will see exposes it all; routines, spelling mistakes, frustrations, doubts, habits, food choices, etc.

Without intending to offend anyone, here are some of my finds and at the same time an insight in these people’s lives, what they eat, how they think and function. A sense of voyeurism takes over here and I hope it will not make people more aware of recklessly leaving their shopping list behind in their trolley without thinking. Please keep them floating about for me to find.

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Claudia Aalderink produces Claudia’s Corner exclusively for N8N. A whimsical, weekly photographic column on anything that takes her fancy.

Check out her website here.

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Number 8 Network - a community website for the rural areas northeast of Hamilton, NZ, is run by Gordonton journalist/editor Annette Taylor.

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