Nov 14 2013

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Christmas has started early in our home city of Lisburn.  I guess it is the same in most other places too.  I hadn’t given it a lot of thought until I visited our local shopping mall earlier this week. It was early Tuesday morning but already the shoppers were out with their shopping bags and trolleys. In a few of the stores New Year sales had already started.  xMASsHOPPING

You may have gathered that I’m not big on shopping—unless it’s for something I need urgently, or a browse around my favourite bookstore. A couple of times a week I dutifully accompany my wife Nip—she who must be obeyed—to pick up groceries and other essentials. Even then I usually slope off to the book and magazine section, only returning in time to push the groaning and well-filled trolley out to the car park.

I know the old clichés about Christmas being for the kids and the family, a time for peace and goodwill. I know there’s a credit squeeze and times are tough, and businesses have to cash in all they can during the festive season. But surely there’s got to be a limit. On my little outing this week I got to thinking that maybe old Ebenezer Scrooge had a point with his “Bah, humbug” remark.

I know, I know. I’m coming across as a right old misery guts, but I like to think you’d be a bit more understanding if you’d been with me for that hour-and-a-half Tuesday. I’m sure the slogan “Shop Early for Christmas”  is commendable enough in its way—but how early is early for goodness sake? I remember seeing a poster in that same mall a while ago saying “Get your Christmas Cards Here Half-price”—and that was the first week in January!

Now that I’m up on my soapbox I might as well have a proper moan. I have nothing against women. Quite the reverse, I think you’re great. After all, my mother was a woman and so is my dearly beloved Nip. I don’t even mind women drivers and you’re great when it comes to dancing backwards. (For those under forty I’m talking here about proper dancing, not what passes for it nowadays.)

But I have to say you don’t seem to have the first idea when it comes to pushing a shopping trolley!  Why, for Heaven’s sake, can’t you follow the simple rule of keeping to the left—or the right, is you’re in the United States? The aisles of our local supermarket remind me of London in the rush-hour. At least in rush-hour traffic generally sticks to its proper lane. This is certainly not the case with women shoppers!

Women shoppers come in all types

In my experience women shoppers come in a variety of types. There are the trolley-hogs who claim the right-of-way at all times and woe-betide anyone foolhardy enough to stand in their path.  Sometimes I think I could use a set of leg-guards. The only cure for them would be a trolley warden allowed to issue instant speeding fines. Indoor traffic lights in the aisles is a possible option, but then drivers don’t observe lane discipline in the store carparks outside, so why should inside be any different? I must admit that, in this regard, male drivers are equally guilty.

And it’s no good waving them down and yelling “Didn’t you see the arrows?”  The most likely reply would probably be “What arrows? I didn’t even see the Indians!”

I’m honestly amazed there aren’t more accidents in supermarket car parks. I’m not sure if the normal rules of the road apply to them. All I know is that they don’t  seem to.

I’m really warming up now. Can anyone tell me why two women shoppers, going in different directions, stop for a chat slap-bang in the middle of a busy aisle? And it’s usually at a junction where they can contrive to block  another aisle for good measure.

Trolley-hogs are bad enough, but I’m not sure the slowcoaches and dithers aren’t even worse. They can’t make their mind up what brand they want, never mind what item they want. They just dander along, brain in neutral, usually dead centre of the aisle, totally oblivious to others trying to get past.

As against that, there’s the woman who misses out on something she passed ten metres back and abandons her trolley mid-aisle while she wanders back to pick it up, returning at her leisure to find the entire passageway totally blocked in both directions.

Tell me something. Don’t you ladies make out shopping lists any more, or is that asking too much? Don’t you think it would save a lot of time and stop you doubling back for something you’ve missed first time around? An old girlfriend of mine is the one person I know who got it right. She made a list of everything she needed, then went round the store once in a particular order, collecting her goods on the way. If she reads this she’ll know who I mean!

That’s it, rant over. It remains only for me to wish all my customers… er I mean readers… a Merry Christmas and prosperous New Year!   A final plea—if you happen to spy me out shopping please give me a wide berth with your trolley. Last thing I need is a broken ankle for Christmas.



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