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12:18pm on Saturday, 11th February, 2006:

Flip and Grind


My small acts of random violence in supermarkets aren't restricted to deliberately ramming the trolleys of unthinking individuals, not by any means. I'm actually quite a high-level trolley user, and have other techniques in my armoury which I can use to enhance my shopping experience. The ones I use the most, I call the flip and the grind.

The flip is for when people have left their trolley in an awkward place but aren't holding on to it. I bring my trolley's nose alongside their trolley's nose and flip it, so that it moves into the position any considerate person would have had it in anyway. I'm quite adept at this, and can position the errant trolley with a fair degree of accuracy (depending on how much shopping there is in it). Once, in ASDA, I managed to get a 180 degree turn in a single flip from a trolley containing a bored toddler; he saw me flip a trolley further down the aisle and became excited when I approached so I didn't want to let him down — the trolley wasn't actually in the way, so I wouldn't normally have flipped it. I did the business and he really enjoyed it, but his mother looked a little perplexed when she returned and found her trolley facing the opposite direction to when she'd left it.

The grind is for when there are two trolleys either side of an aisle, carelessly held out just far enough that a trolley can't quite get between them. I go between them anyway, and allow the wedge shape of my trolley gradually to push theirs out of the way. I call it "the grind" because of the satisfying sound of metal against metal it makes. It works best when the trolleys in my way are facing me, because then I can use their wedge shape to my advantage, too. Usually there'll be people holding the other trolleys when I do this, and it brightens my morning a little to guess which one will move first, or if neither will.

I'm not the only person who does this. Today, in Sainsbury's, there was a trolley blocking the cheese aisle where some bloke had been standing with it then wandered off to look a bit further along, leaving it jutting out. I adeptly flipped it back against the display, and another shopper caught my eye as he nodded approvingly. He then gratuitously flipped the back of an unattended trolley on his side of the aisle (organic foods) to show me we were comrades.

Maybe we should form a guild.

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Copyright © 2006 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).