HoferPanic™ (also known as AldiPanic™ outside Austria) is a phenomenon that refers to the elevated heart rate and adrenalin kick generated by the head-to-head battle between customer and checkout operater at Hofer (in Austria) and Aldi (everywhere else).
As the customer, the aim of the competition is to use wit, cunning and skill to get your prospective purchases from the conveyor belt to your trolley at a speed equal to or surpassing that of the checkout operator. Said checkout operator, on the other hand, will try to use their months of specialised training to make your purchases build up at the end of the counter, destroying your dignity and, in some cases, occasioning meltdown.
Beginners may feel overwhelmed at many of the elements of this competition, including – but not limited to – the speed of the conveyer belt and the david copperfield-esque motor skills of the checkout operator. Fear not, gentle fan base! I present to you:
Your failsafe preparation and competition guide
On your marks!
1. Always, ALWAYS use a trolley. I don’t care if you are only buying these delicious biscuits and the weird milk-byproduct-in-a-carton drink known as molke to wash them down with. A trolley is the perfect receptacle into which you can scoop your purchases as your opposition hurls them past the scanner.
2. Have your wallet somewhere accessible. You DO NOT want to be fumbling in the final, delicate stages of the challenge. Even better, have your keycard ready to swipe, or the approximate value in NOTES in your pocket. You want to be able to FLOURISH your chosen payment method at your opposition, not crouch in your corner counting your Euro-cents
3. Have both hands free. Another benefit of the trolley is that nuisance items such as handbags and children can be safely stowed, leaving you maximum range.
4. Catch your opponent off guard! Greet the checkout operator before he/she greets you! Getting this out of the way will give you the psychological upper hand. Cross-reference the below table for the appropriate greeting.
|North Germany Guten Tag|
|South Germany/Austria Grüß Gott|
|U.S.A Hey there/Howdy|
|Australia Hi, how you going? Gee the weather’s great today, isn’t it? I really thought it was going to rain, they said that on the radio anyway, and then when I saw the clouds come over I thought ‘oh I better take my umb…’|
4. Position the trolley at the end of the counter. This is often hindered by the previous mature-age shopper who thinks that their clogged arteries and anno 1998 haircut gives them the right to dilly-dally at putting their change away. Don’t get mad, get even! The front of the trolley is custom made for nudging theirs away, giving you free access to the right of the scanner.
5. Be alert! The checkout operator will start scanning madly. Using both hands, use a smooth, gliding motion to scoop the scanned goods into your trolley.
ACHTUNG! A practiced eye will be able to separate the breakable items from the non-breakable items. Remember, a smashed 10-pack* of eggs will spell a premature end to your dreams of victory.
6. The checkout operator will be racing to hit the ‘enter’ button once the last product is scanned. Once you see that this is about to happen, unsheath your method of payment and BRANDISH IT, even if there are still products on the counter.
Whilst he/she is dealing with the payment processing, you can place the final items in your trolley and move it away from the scanner, allowing the next person in the queue to begin prepping. This shows your professionalism.
7. YOU’RE DONE! Pocket your change and/or receipt(s), and don’t forget the nod of acknowledgement at a game well played. This is extremely similar to when Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal shake hands at the end of a gruelling Australian Open final.
8. The farewell: You can bask in the glow of success, but there’s still protocol to be followed. The exchange unfolds thusly:
|North Germany||– Auf Wiedersehen, schönen Tag noch
– Auf Wiedersehen, Ihnen auch
|South Germany/Austria||– Wiederschaun, schen Tog no
– Donksche, Ihnen auch
|U.S.A.||– Thank you, have a nice day!
– Thanks a bunch, you have a nice day too!
||– Thanks a lot, have a lovely evening. Looks like you’re buying up big for a party, got something exciting planned?
– Thanks, you have a lovely evening too, yeah, no, we’re just staying in tonight, prolly just watching something on the box, y’know, there’s that film with…’
Players then transfer their purchased vittles to their transport vessel of choice.
Which brings me to the point of today’s post. BEHOLD this mighty piece of equipment! My einkaufskorb, known in english by the pedestrian term ‘shopping basket’.
It uses the ancient principles of leverage to enable me to carry lots of gherkins and sliced meats and yoghurts without plastic bag handles slicing into my palms. Also, it instills fear and respect in any youth/hooligans I may encounter, as it reminds them of their primary school teacher.
*they sell eggs in packs of ten here. I could swear they are sold by the dozen in Australia. Am I dreaming? If not, why is there a discrepancy? I would love to get my hands on the official “Egg sales and consumption: A cross-cultural analysis” report.