quaker fencer

kathz isn't quite my name. I may be a Quaker. If I'm a fencer I'm a bad one and I don't do sabre. If I'm a Quaker I'm a bad one - but you've worked that out already. Read on. Comment if you like. Don't expect a reply.

Location: United Kingdom

Sunday, January 07, 2007

competitive shopping

I've just completed my weight-training for the weekend - or all the weight-training I'm ever likely to do. I've been shopping.

I start with a few gentle lifting and stretching exercises - nothing too strenuous as I reach for items above my head and below my knees and place them gently in the shopping trolley. I practise mental agility too: staying within budget, working out the best offers, trying to remember if we're running low on washing powder or whether the teenagers still like beansprouts. (The attempt to feed teenagers a healthy diet is the advanced level.)

Then there's the regulat attempt to predict the latest moves of my opponent (the supermarket). Where's the marmalade? Has the bread flour been moved since Christmas? Are the special offers really worthwhile?

Selecting goods and placing them in the trolley is the warm-up, although it's also preparation for the real struggle. It's important not to buy more than I can carry home, so I have to assess the cumulative weight of goods and my ability to transport them. Meeting the cashier and loading the bags is where it all begins.

The cashier wants to pack my shopping for me. She assumes I will be travelling by car. I don't drive. Sometimes I wobble home on my bike, a tower of goods strapped before me in and on top of the basket - but that's a perilous sport in winter rain. Today the task is endurance shopping - I'm carrying everything home so I must take control at the packing stage.

After negotiation with the cashier, I organise everything into a comfortable five bags, doing my best to ensure that the weight is evenly spread and no sharp edges will scratch my legs on the journey home - shoppers get cuts and bruises too. Then I set out, into wind and rain, unwatched and uncheered. It's a gruelling twenty-minute struggle. At times I think I over-estimated my ability to carry but I'm on my way, switching bags from time to time as the handles dig into my palms.

I make it home. None of the bags has broken and I still have enough strength to put the shopping away. But where are the cheering crowds? All I get is a half-interested call of "What's for lunch?"

The original Olympics featured a race in heavy armour. The exercise trained male citizens for demands that might be made on them. So why isn't shopping an Olympic sport? Think of the complexity of demands: the athleticism, the stamina, the intelligence required. Think of the practice sportsmen and women would need - perhaps they could get it by volunteering to do other people's shopping. I'd let them help me.

I know - it doesn't have everything I like in a sport. Shoppers miss out on consensual stabbing. Perhaps the sport's oragnisers could work that in.


Blogger B.V. Brus said...

I assume your shopping "trolley" is probably what we'd call a "cart" over here. So here's a fun bit of trivia: Sylvan N. Goldman, of Oklahoma City, OK, invented the shopping cart in 1937 for use in his Standard Food Markets and Humpty Dumpty Supermarkets. The Omniplex Science Museum in OKC even features a statue of its creator, depicted pushing a shopping cart. (I've seen it myself.)

There ya go. Oklahoma City, the original center for competitive fencing shoppers around the world.

2:40 pm  
Blogger kathz said...

Really a statue? I'm not sure whether it's deserved or not. The problem I have is that when I push a trolley (instead of carrying a basket) I tend to over-estimate the amount of stuff I can carry home. Mind you, supermarket aisles would make tremendous pistes ... and the trolley could be worked into the duel somewhere. Cyrano in Sainsbury's ... I see it now.

Note to North American readers: Sainsbury's is big in Britain but it's smaller than Wal-Mart and mainly sells groceries.

11:49 pm  
Blogger Elizabeth McClung said...

Yes, I have the same problem - particularly when I see a sale on something like soup and am torn between what I WANT to get home and what might likely get there - brava on your weekly competition.

9:37 am  

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