Brad S. Lost In The Supermarket

I’m all lost in the supermarket
I can no longer shop happily
I came in here for that special offer
A guaranteed personality

I wasn’t born so much as I fell out
Nobody seemed to notice me
We had a hedge back home in the suburbs
Over which I never could see

I heard the people who lived on the ceiling
Scream and fight most scarily
Hearing that noise was my first ever feeling
That’s how it’s been all around me

I’m all lost in the supermarket
I can no longer shop happily
I came in here for that special offer
A guaranteed personality

I’m all tuned in, I see all the programs
I save coupons from packets of tea
I’ve got my giant hit discotheque album
I empty a bottle and I feel a bit free

The kids in the halls and the pipes in the walls
Make me noises for company
Long distance callers make long distance calls
And the silence makes me lonely

I’m all lost in the supermarket
I can no longer shop happily
I came in here for that special offer
A guaranteed personality

And it’s not hear
It disappear
I’m all lost the supermarket
I can no longer shop happily
I came in here for that special offer
A guaranteed personality


Written by Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, Topper Headon • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group

Lost in the Supermarket is the 8th track on the Clash’s third album, London Calling.  The album was released in January 1980 in North America, and has been one of my favourite albums ever since.  This song has resonated with me, in one way or another, for most of my life.  It has meant different things to me at different times.  If you have never heard the song, you can hear it here:

Although the song was written about consumerism, at 14 I certainly didn’t understand much about that. I read my own meaning into the song and my understanding of it has grown and changed over the years.  I think that the song fits my life so well.  As that 14-year-old boy trying to fit in with all the other teenagers, I thought that if I could buy that perfect “personality” I could be the “popular” kid.  That thought evolved over the rest of my life.  By adulthood, it meant that if I had all the best things, those things would make me happy, plus, they would make you like me, which would also make me happy.  I had totally fallen into the whole idea that my self-worth was tied to consumerism and material goods; that it came from outside, rather than from within.

“The hedge over which I never could see”, to me is a metaphor for that wall that I put up between myself and the rest of the world.  I couldn’t see past me because I was so stuck on self.  And I didn’t really know how to let you inside that wall.  I didn’t know that strength was gained by being vulnerable and by letting you see all my faults.

Thinking back, I never really lacked for attention. I wasn’t ignored or treated badly. I had a great childhood and upbringing.  My family loved me and treated me great.  I had lots friends throughout my life, but always thought I needed more.  “Why don’t those people like me or want to hang out with me?”  I was always looking for more attention.  This sometimes led to bad consequences in school as I was disruptive.  I also learned to be rather funny at times, usually at the expense of others, all in an attempt to get more attention and be popular.  I could never be satisfied with what I had, but always felt like I needed more.

These are just a few of the thoughts and memories that this song gives me.  But, more recently, there is one single line in the song that I have been focused on and really thinking about. That line is:

“I empty a bottle and I feel a bit free.”

That line is the quintessential feeling for me as an alcoholic.  You might say that it haunts me.  That bottle was my God.  That bottle gave me freedom from my resentments, fears, guilt, shame, remorse, anger and insecurities.  It gave me the freedom to talk to that girl, boss, parent, child, stranger, etc. Essentially, alcohol gave me the freedom from all the thoughts and emotions I couldn’t bear.  It also gave me the freedom to do things I was too full of fear to attempt.

I have recently tried a couple of times to explain this to family and friends but I’m not sure I have succeeded.  I am sure almost any alcoholic understands.  Growing up, I never knew any of this might not be normal.  I didn’t know that most people are “comfortable in their own skin” most of the time.  My reality was that these were the feelings and emotions that I had, and that was normal to me.  I couldn’t know any different because I didn’t know any different.  I explain it as being similar to when I got my first pair of eye glasses in grade six.  I went to class and sat down in my seat.  For the very first time, I could read the chalk board at the front of the class.  Until that moment, I did not know that everyone else could read the board from the back of the room.  I didn’t know that I was different until I knew I was different.  It’s the exact same thing with the feelings and emotions I grew up with, how I viewed the world around me, and how I felt around others.  It isn’t that anybody did anything wrong or that I knew I was any different, that was just all I knew. It was just my reality.

Eventually that bottle became a problem in my life and I found my way to Alcoholics Anonymous.  The twelfth step of AA says:  “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs”.

The first part of the twelfth step promises me one thing; that I will have a spiritual awaking by completing the steps, or more simply, that I will get connected to God.  It is that connection to God, or a power greater than myself, that keeps me sober.  Without it, I quickly revert back to my old ways of thinking and acting which will eventually lead back to drinking.  So, I need to hang onto it as best as I can.  How can I do that?

The three legacies of Alcoholics Anonymous are:  Recovery, Unity, and Service.  I have to stay involved in all three areas of AA to maintain my “fit spiritual condition” and therefore, my connection to God.


I need to continue to practice the principles of the steps, in all my affairs, to the best of my ability, at all times.  If I am still talking about how I did step three 5 years ago, I am obviously no longer learning or growing.  If I’m not growing, chances are I’m going backwards.  I have to practice the principles of the AA program in all my affairs all day, everyday, not just when it is convenient or easy.


I need to participate in the fellowship of AA. I do this by having a home group, attending meetings, attending AA functions, the meeting after the meeting, etc.  I need to be part of something, as do all human beings.  In the latter stages of most alcoholics’ drinking, the loneliness and isolation really takes over.  It is another one of those hard things to explain how lonesome you can feel, even amongst crowds of people.


Service is all about giving back.  I think of all the things that have been and continue to be so freely given to me.  I have benefited from tremendous sponsorship.  I have received kind words, encouragement and direction from literally dozens of people along the way.  I have received a kick in the pants when it was needed.  Without the care and love from those that came before me, I simply would not be here today.  The only way I can repay my debt to those people is by carrying the message to the newcomer and doing my part for AA. How can I possibly not be willing to do all that I can?  There are so many ways to be of service in AA, there is really no excuse for me not to be involved.

The other day I was driving to a meeting and I was listening to an album that I hadn’t heard in some time.  This song came on and that line almost brought me to tears.  It brought up a lot of old memories, that’s for sure.  But it also brought up a lot of newer memories as well.  Life is fantastic now that I have found a replacement for that bottle.  I am “willing to go to any lengths” to keep that connection to God. Without it, I have nothing…

Liquid error (layout/theme line 207): Could not find asset snippets/hextom_fsb_main.liquid