When The Trolley Comes To Tea

This afternoon, while I was getting a kick out of some of the commentaries in the International Herald Tribune as well as from the caffeine of cha nom yen, two women strolled into the Oriental Hotel Shop (as well as tearoom), pushing a supermarket trolley! They parked it by their side, completely unperturbed by the road block they have set up.

What was disconcerting was the content of the trolley. In it sat three, barely filled shopping bags. I saw one with a sole bottle of liquid, one with a stalk of leek and what looked like a box of toothpaste, and a third contained a loaf of bread atop a small box of something. Collectively, the three bags do not look like they needed to be carted. Indolence, as I saw, was the mother of insolence.

In our urban life, is it not enough that we are forced to listen to the intimate conversation of the BTS commuter who blares into her BB? Now we have to be privy to the contents of her grocery shopping?

Yes, there was an outburst of outrage but it mostly imploded. I wanted to push the trolley away like a traffic police might have a car towed away. Looking at the vehicle in disbelief only encouraged disdain from the indiscriminate trolley user. As you can tell, I am rudeness-intolerant just as some people are lactose intolerant!

Trolleys at work so far away from supermarkets  is so widespread in Bangkok that I wonder why no store has reigned in errant users. Seriously, has the weight of a woman’s shopping these days become too much to bear, or are women simply adverse to even the slightest mass?

Just last month, I saw another woman with a supermarket trolley, this time at Central Chidlom, on the fifth floor, which is more than a kilometre away from Central Food Hall, home of the exiled trolley. What drew my attention to her four-wheeler was not how filled it was (thus necessitating its use) but how not. In it was a small leather handbag, one that, like an infant, needed to be pushed about. Women have always got a handbag porter also known as husband or boyfriend—their absence means the trolley is a handy, wide-bodied substitute.

We will very soon have a female holding the premiership of this country. Such a stature, for so many Thais, is a pride-worthy sign that local women have indeed come this far. However, this degree of development is no indication that, socially, women have achieved the graciousness that can hinder bad behaviour such as the one I have described above. Yingluck Shinawatra has said, in response to the criticism of her ability as a woman, “… a female is more compromising”. Well, I hope it won’t be a compromise of the civility of our community.

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