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Whittling Away: Supermarkets aren’t for wimps

Headshot of a man named Dick Brooks.

By Dick Brooks

For Capital Region Independent Media

It doesn’t seem that long ago as time is measured that I would go in search of adventure during any free time that came my way. 

I spent time surfing, skiing, whitewater rafting, car racing, mountain climbing, you know, all the usual stuff. As you age, however, the appeal of torn ligaments, broken limbs and major bruising fades to the point that bingo starts to look too hazardous.

However, the urge to boldly go where no man has gone before and to see that which has not been seen before does not die easily and still needs to be addressed. Therefore, at least once a week, I gird up my loins (still not clear on what that means, but it sounds adventurous) and head for the supermarket.

Those of you who are 20-something and into mud wrestling grizzly bears may scoff at this seemingly mundane destination, but it meets my need for thrills. Small local markets usually suffice but once in a while, I live dangerously and head for one of the big ones — the superstores. 

I pull into the parking lot of our nearest Cost Whacker Super Store and the adventures begin. 

First, there’s the physical challenge, the 2-mile hike to the store from the outer regions of the parking lot. Once inside, a trip down each aisle just one time will add another 10 or 12 miles to your pedometer. Some of these places even offer you maps and have water fountains and restrooms set up like a little oasis where you can rest before continuing your journey. If the water and potty don’t do the trick, there’s usually a row of little electric vehicles to help you navigate the acres of goods laid out before you.

The endurance aspect of the superstores is fun, but my favorite activity is hunting. Sometimes the Queen of our house sends me with a list, turning the trip into a scavenger hunt of Olympic proportions. 

Tracking down one specific kind of coffee creamer in that vast sea of merchandise can keep me occupied for hours (which may be her plan). Free hunting is the most adventurous form of shopping and something I look forward to. Instructions like “see what you can find that’s low carb” make my heart race and my adrenalin level rise. I then can throw my map to the wind and wander freely, reading the contents label on thousands of items, occasionally collecting those things that meet the criteria.

If contact sports are your thing, they are also to be found at the market. I would recommend trying to cut into line at the checkout as a way to add a little additional excitement to your trip. Trips to the gym will no longer be necessary. A couple of hours of pushing a 300-pound cart with a wheel that keeps dragging, then lugging the 20 or so bags of groceries from the driveway into the house, will replace your workout in fine style. Dragging just one bale of toilet tissue from the car to the house will make anyone perspire profusely.

A lot of younger folks hopefully now know and appreciate some of the adventures that lie ahead for them. They will now come to understand that older folks can have fun and adventures, too. I feel that I have performed an important public service.

Thought for the week — Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

Until next week, may you and yours be happy and well.

Reach columnist Dick Brooks at

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