I had a bit of bother today when I went to fetch a trolley at my local supermarket.
You are probably quite familiar with these trolleys, each embedded one into another, that are parked outside a modern supermarket. I call them "chain-gangs", because the back of each trolley has a dangling chain with an attachment that plugs into the lock of the trolley that is stacked behind it.
You have to push a coin into the lock of the rearmost trolley. This releases the chain from the lock, and you pull your trolley out. The chain is left dangling from the back of what is now the last trolley in the chain gang.
Simple! Then off you go into the supermarket with your trolley, with your coin visible and protruding slightly from the lock.
Afterwards, when you've finished shopping and you've loaded your car with goodies, you return your empty trolley to the chain gang. You push your trolley into the back of the rearmost trolley, then you plug the end of the chain hanging from that trolley into the lock of your trolley. This relinks your trolley to the chain gang and releases your coin from the lock. Bliss!
They are clever people, these trolley designers. I've often tried to prise my coin out, whilst wandering around the supermarket, in the hope that this would relieve me of the chore of returning my trolley to the chain gang. But no way! The trolley lock has clamped its jaw, bulldog- like, around the coin and the only way to get your coin back (short of a hammer and chisel) is to return the empty trolley to the chain gang.
But I digress. Or perhaps I should say that today the supermarket digressed from its usual policy of totalitarian control and order. The entire chain gang, fully chained together, had been pushed out of its railed enclosure to enable a cleaner to sweep the tarmac. And for the first time in my life, I found myself approaching the chain gang from the front, instead of the rear.
I admit I should have thought more deeply about this, and I should have walked to the back of the chain gang to get my trolley out in the usual way. But I didn't. Instead, I chose the easier option, which was the front trolley, which was nearer. And I inserted my coin into the lock of the trolley behind, which broke its link to the chain of the front trolley.
That's when disaster struck. Kathy was with me, and she was in a hurry. The supermarket was running a special promotion of cut-price goodies, and she was worried that these would become sold out. So she grabbed the front trolley that I had freed and disappeared into the supermarket.
I hope you can visualise the scenario: Kathy had disappeared with a trolley that had no coin in its lock. And I was left alone, at the head of the chain gang, which had my coin clamped into the lock of its foremost trolley.
What would you do?
Well, I'm sure that you can think of all sorts of solutions that I didn't consider in the heat of the moment. What I can say is this; people who had finished their shopping were arriving with empty trolleys and plugging them into the rear of my chain gang in order to retrieve their coins. And they outnumbered the fewer new arrivals who wanted a trolley from the back of my chain gang. My chain gang was growing by the minute. Something had to be done. So I panicked.
Determined as I was not to abandon my coin in the front trolley, I pushed the entire chain gang into the supermarket in order to find Kathy. I admit this caused some inconvenience to the shoppers inside, as well as some minor damage to the supermarket entrance, and to the special offer promotion display in the entrance foyer, and to several aisles. But I did find Kathy in the frozen food area, where she was examining some pork chops which were on special offer at a 30% discount from yesterday's price.
"What the hell are you doing!" she yelled, as I approached, pushing my chain gang. Somehow, I managed to bring the meandering train of trolleys to a full stop when the front trolley (the one with my coin in it) got wedged between frozen pork and frozen chicken container units.
I can't quite remember the exact detail of our subsequent conversation. But we did agree that a coin in the lock of a front trolley in a chain gang is irretrievable.
Maybe the supermarket knows this, too...
Here's a photo of Kathy's coinless trolley.
I'm using this photo as a template for the production of copy chain attachments. I see an opportunity for making money in the supermarket aisles if I have some of these attachments to hand....
1 year ago