Embarrassed in Tesco

I’m in the queue outside at Tesco for a good 30 minutes, as I’m sure many of you know it feels very strange. A bit of nervous, jovial chatter with people around me and some mindless scrolling on my phone, it’s like being in a movie.

I see signs everywhere about the new one way system to keep people safe in store, its very clearly marked on the floors and I begin following the arrows. Mushrooms, broccoli, tomatoes and peppers go in my trolley. An awkward moment at the bananas whilst another shopper and myself try not to get too close to each other. Then on I go down the next aisle.

I’m lost in thought wandering around up and down the aisles putting my usual things in the trolley. I pause at the frozen section mildly annoyed that all the cheaper sweetcorn has run out and I’m having to buy the Birdseye one, which is not on offer I hasten to add!

Suddenly I am snapped out my deep and important thoughts about sweetcorn when I realise the ‘Excuse me madam’ that I can hear is being directed at me.

‘You’re going the wrong way.’

I look up from my sweetcorn dilemma and notice a few amused shoppers and a slightly exasperated shop assistant all facing me coming in the opposite direction. I then look down at the giant blue arrows pointing the opposite direction to the way that I am walking. ‘I’m so sorry’ I mumble, becoming really hot, I grab my overpriced sweetcorn and turn and the other way.


I find myself wanting to cry a little bit, and inwardly berating myself. How could I be so stupid there are literally giant blue arrows on the floor, how have I managed to walk the wrong way up and down several aisles and not notice? I finish my shop and get home glad to put it behind me.

Later in the week I was on a zoom webinar, (you know for a change!) called rope in snowstorm. It was around the subject of creating rhythms and practices in life that sustain us. A framework if you like that our life can grow in. It went through many wonderful things, but one spoke to me about my time in Tesco.

A community of shared practice.

The invitation was not just to create independent rhythms, but to live them out in a community.

It’s a scientific fact that we live most of our life on autopilot. We do what we normally do, we all have a rhythm of sorts whether its intentional or not. We get up, we drink a drink, we eat things, we think things, we say things a lot of it without a lot of intentionality.

In tesco I was on autopilot. I started off following the new instruction of the big blue arrows but by the time I got to the bananas I was on autopilot. I go to Tesco every week and have done for years and I walk up and down the aisles the same way buying pretty much the same thing week in week out. Even the giant blue arrows weren’t enough for me to see that I was going completely the wrong way. It took another person seeing me to interrupt me, embarrass me a little bit and tell me;

‘You’re going the wrong way.’

I am a strong, independent person. Always have been so this isn’t something I find easy. We also live in a culture of self sufficiency. True community requires vulnerability, honesty and a willingness to both give and receive.

In life just like in Tesco it’s not always clear the right way to go in the big and the small things. In Tesco I need the shop assistant to reach out and correct me, even the big blue arrows pointing the way weren’t enough it took another human being close enough to observe me, and willing to intervene.

I hope to grow in living in community within my own household and wider church family, sharing enough that people can both cheer me on and when needed tell me

‘Emma, you’re going the wrong way.’

Have a great week everyone, I hope this blog gets you thinking about community today. Please message me with any questions about rhythms of life, prayer requests or for a chat

Emma x