Trolley life

The supermarket bully seems to be a female phenomenon - and she's easy to spot. `No, we need fruit! We need fruit!' shouts a woman rushing towards the satsumas as her boyfriend stands stock still
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Indy Lifestyle Online
I have never been very good at sharing my trolley with a man but I cannot help but notice that this is hardly unusual. Everywhere you look in a supermarket a divorce is in progress. Couples hiss at each other over the frozen peas, negotiate over the own-brand ketchup or just plain row about the price of organic vegetables. I have seen actual tussles over packets of noodles. "But what is the use of buying the ingredients for lasagne every week if you are never going to make it?" a man asks. What a question!

Men and supermarkets may be second only to sex as a favourite topic for many women. "Men!" I would explain after a particularly gruelling cheese purchase. "Men!" my friends would chorus back before sharing how this or that husband had gone to do the weekly shop and returned with five bottles of wine, a packet of hamburger and some After Eight mints.

Now that I shop alone, however, I have noticed something rather disturbing and that is the trolley bully. This seems to be a female thing. I suppose the male equivalent is the way some morph into monsters when they get behind the wheel of a car. Both types are easy to spot. "No! We need fruit! We need fruit!" shouts a woman rushing towards the satsumas as her boyfriend stands stock still by the trolley. "Come on! Come on!"

The experts do not see this as strange behaviour at all. "Fruit and veg seems to be a predominantly female selection zone," explained a shopping expert as he watched from behind a hidden camera on Channel 4's Shop Till You Drop. "What you see is men parked with the trolleys while their wives zig-zag to and fro."

My observations suggest that virtually the entire store - except possibly for the wine, beer and barbecue sections - is a female selection zone. Everywhere you see women giving men tasks. The most common is to push the trolley (though the woman often still steers via a hand on its side). Men are sent on hunter-gatherer missions - to pick a bottle of wine or a packet of ham. Sometimes they are entrusted with getting a carefully specified product such as salad dressing, canned soup or washing up liquid.

Inevitably this leads to failure as many men return with the wrong thing: the most expensive salad dressing, the highest calorie soup, the cheapest washing up liquid. Their partners - many of whom we must assume are mild- mannered and tolerant women when not in a supermarket - are not shy about such errors. "Not that kind of tuna," they insist, handing the can back. "Brine. Not oil. We always have tuna in brine." I cannot help but think that if women were as demanding in bed as they are in the aisles then women's magazines would have very little to write about - except, of course, men and supermarkets.

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