I have a dear friend, Penny, who lives over in Pinellas county. For years, before I moved to Davenport, she and I lived in the same community. We spent many happy weekends driving around to yard sales together and doing the week’s errands. I really miss being near by to her and the adventures we shared.
It was on one of these trips with Penny that I learned a valuable lesson about power struggles. Now, mind you, separately, we are two intelligent and capable women. But when we got together and distracted with the fun we were having, we did some really dumb things. I freely admit that we were usually not paying good attention to what is going on around us because we were chattering on like a couple of magpies.
We were catching up on the week and knocking out some errands while we chattedt about nothing in particular and, certainly, nothing very interesting to anyone but us. We just conversed with that constant stream of conciousness that close women friends have together. And, in our distraction, we sometimes lost our power.
On this Saturday morning, between yard sales we stopped off at the local Target. We got out of the car and jabbered our way over to the line of shopping carts. Reaching the carts first, I announced, “I’ll get it!”. I grabbed the handle and yanked hard. Nothing. I moved on to the next line of carts and pulled again. Same thing, nothing to show for my efforts but whiplash. Being a true friend, Penny grabbed the next cart behind mine and pulled in the opposite direction, hoping to free the two from their red plastic embrace. We huffed and puffed and tugged and pulled, talking about it the whole time. People were beginning to stare and the struggle was becoming personal. We fussed about how inefficient this was and we fussed about why a store would make their customers suffer through such a physical struggle to just get a cart!
We asked out loud what kind of scientific genius would design a storage system that required brute strength and contortions to begin the shopping spree. Was it to get the adrenaline pumping? Was there research showing that a spike in adrenaline leads to impulse buying and thus increase sales? We postulated that there must be some sadistic marketing guru snickering behind a oneway mirror in Target and watching people like us lose a finger trying to separate one single cart from the impacted line of selfhugging red buggies. We know he was not balancing a large purse and a baby when he had conceived of a system that requires consumers to engage in a tug of war with resistant willful shopping carriages. We knew he didn’t need to use the ladies room as much as we did either!
We’ve all done it: tugged and pulled to free rows of carts clutching each other before you can get one crammed, jammed buggy to budge loose. We paused to come up for air and just then, Dudley Do Right, in the form of a Target security officer came forward to save the day. He loudly announced, “Ladies, let me help you. You are both pulling on opposite ends of the same cart.” He then pulled gently (I think with one finger) and wheeled a cart out into the open for us to use. “You have a nice day and try to work together.”, he said, dripping condensation. We readjusted the shirts that had ridden up around our necks and nonchalantly pushed off down the aisle like it was easy, hoping no one had noticed
“Thank you, sir”., we said. What we were thinking was more like, “Screw you, Dudley, you sarcastic hulk.”
These two power shoppers were feeling anything but powerful! Small everyday circumstances can go a long way towards reminding us that we are so very human. As analogies for life, it is fun to meditate on these circumstances to see what we can learn. Maybe the moral of this story is that potentials power struggles are stacked up everywhere waiting for us to engage. Avoiding them is easier if we take a moment to breath and evaluate our options Otherwise, we might find ourselves tugging on opposite ends of the same shopping cart with someone special in our lives?