The pace of the 21st Century is unrelenting: multi-tasking is no longer the preserve of harassed mums but it is something the vast majority of us do in order to survive the rat race.
Almost every new product on the market seems to be designed to shave minutes,or even just seconds, from the user’s day and there is no sign of us slowing down anytime soon.
Which is why the decision by Tesco to pilot a ‘slow lane’ checkout at one of its stores, gives hope to millions of people who are sick of feeling like they are a hindrance to the busy lives of others. The supermarket giant is trialling the lane at its branch in Forres, Scotland, and is inviting customers onto the lane by way of a sign which reads ‘Feel free to take as long as you need to go through this checkout today.’
The scheme is the brainchild of a staff member, who after attending a dementia information session, realised there was something the company could do to help those who really don't need to be hurried along by the exaggerated sighs of the next customer in the queue.
It is hoped the pilot is a success and that Tesco sees fit to introduce these ‘chill tills’ to stores across the UK and maybe then it could herald something of a retail revolution. Going shopping these days is not for the faint-hearted. Momentarily forget your pin number and you are likely to tease a chorus of tuts from those busy souls behind you and woe betide anyone who dares to pass the time of day with the cashier.
Contrarians - such as I - thrive off these bad vibes and are happy to operate on go slow if it means the man in the yellow cords is liable to jettison his Châteauneuf-du-Pape and walnut loaf and flounce off in a huff. But there are many to whom where such situations are a real source of stress - especially those with the onset of dementia.
We have all been there: standing behind the doddery pensioner who takes an age to empty their basket and then fill their bag, during which time we have conspicuously looked at our watch at least six times.
It is easy to forget that these people are somebody’s mum, dad and grandparent and if we stopped and thought for a second then we might show them a tad more respect and compassion. But, generally speaking, we don’t.
The sad fact is that there are more diagnosed dementia sufferers than ever before and, thanks to the ongoing social care crisis, they are not always afforded the appropriate care. This means they are forced to carry out seemingly mundane tasks, such as shopping, which are infinitely more difficult than they once were.
As the grandson of a fiercely independent 95-year-old, who now needs more support than he would like, I now appreciate the role that wider society has to play in looking after its more vulnerable members.
Tesco’s current stance will certainly not solve all of our problems, but it might go some way to changing attitudes by giving a break to those who need it the most.