Photo: Getty Images


We all need a slow lane, from time to time

A new proposal has recommended supermarkets implement slow lanes to help dispel loneliness in older people, who want to chat. Couldn't we all use one, asks Zoe Beaty 

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By Zoë Beaty on

Each day tends to begin the same way: a panicked alarm, sluggish sprint out of bed, check Twitter, baulk at the latest news – again – wish you hadn’t bothered finding out what you missed. A hasty shower and haphazard outfit because there’s no time to lose in the race to the train where you’ll spend an hour crushed against ten other sweaty commuters, in a silence peppered by the odd “fuck you”. We half-walk, half-run, and tut and and quickly roll our eyes to get to the office. And then, this year more than most, we wish the hours would go faster and that the days would just pass by without episode. Just in case, god forbid, something else goes wrong. 

But wait – in the cacophony of Bad News Bulletins and the rush to make daily life sort of disappear, arrives the faint hum of harmony. A little positivity. A reminder to calm down, and slow down – and to hold on to the knowledge that there are still tiny morsels of happiness in the world. Tiny, yes. But morsels all the same. 

In a move that could actually make the world a nicer place to be for people who do really need it to be kinder to them, a new report has recommended that supermarkets introduce a slow lane in their checkouts. Don’t rush off just yet – I’m not luring you into another nightmare – it’s not for everyone, and it’s not compulsory; no-one’s going to hold you up getting that frozen pizza and discounted bottle of red home. Actually it’s a recommendation which could provide much needed socialising for those most isolated in society. For some people, a supermarket shop is the only social interaction they might get all day – and this time to chat could help lessen their loneliness and make them happier. 

For some people it’s a chat, in a day which would be otherwise silent. For Hillary Clinton, who found solace this week as the world continued to implode, it’s a bookstore and shelves piled high with quiet moments

A little thing, and a lovely change. And, perhaps, something we could all take something from. We all fall into the mindset of being Busy from time to time (or, all of the time), dashing around after everything we can’t stop thinking about, not even bothering to sleep properly. Inevitably, we get tired and unhappy. Don't we all, from time to time, need a bit of time in the slow lane?

Just as the supermarket proposal could be a fulfilling venture for the loneliest sectors of society, we all have a slow lane – we just forget to visit it from time to time. Which is easy when the world looks like this. For some people it’s a chat, in a day which would be otherwise silent. For Hillary Clinton, who found solace this week as the world continued to implode, it’s a little bookstore and shelves piled high with quiet moments. 

So this is a reminder it’s there. Waiting for a chat. Or a sit down with a good book. Or a podcast and a bottle of wine in the bath on a Saturday morning (kidding) (I’m not). Wherever your slow lane is, go and have a walk in it every now and again. Stop and exchange some pleasantries, and know that it’s not all bad. 


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