Trolley life

There is a group in America called the Procrastination Society which goes around doing things like placing obituaries for Alexander Graham Bell and other long dead types. I've always meant to join but that seemed to defeat the entire purpose which is, of course, never to do anything until not doing it will result in arrest or actual bodily harm. Friends have told me that this is now an official syndrome and that professional help is available. I said I'll add "Get professional help" to the list but that they shouldn't hold their breath since it comes behind such topics as "Reorganise finances in order to be rich by the year 2000". Besides which, I have now got putting things off down to a fine art. For instance, the quality of my procrastination relates exactly to the task to be avoided. Therefore I always know when something is extremely important if I find myself cleaning out the shed at midnight or deciding it is imperative to find all socks that match and group them accordingly.

Given all this you can see why my first reaction to a fax last July from the Direct Line people headlined "The Price of Apathy" was to file it under "A". Then the other day, as I was trying to reorganise my finances in order to be rich by the year 2000, I decided a quick look couldn't hurt. I was wrong. The survey is full of irritations such as the fact that I could save pounds 175 a year by keeping track of small change and pounds 300 by taking food to work.

Even the idea made me feel ill, apathetic even. Then the other day I was standing at the supermarket check-out when the cashier said, "That will be pounds 100." Now the only reaction to such a statement has to be to laugh. Trolley experts say most people haven't a clue how much they spend but I know that I usually spend about pounds 70 and never more than pounds 90. (I always thought this was rather good but now discover the average trolley- load at Safeway is pounds 40.)

Of course I did not laugh at the cashier. Instead I smiled and asked if they took Switch. It was only later, when I remembered the Apathy fax, that I realised further action was required. Evidently two out of three people will stop at nothing to pick up a 50p piece on the ground but almost half of us don't bother to check receipts. Yet one in six supermarket receipts are said to be inaccurate. So I checked and found that I had been charged pounds 10 instead of pounds 1 for something. It was all so exciting that I almost called the Apathy people but decided that on balance it could wait because, let's face it, so many things can.

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