Yesterday I was at Target to buy a hand mixer because even though I moved months ago I frequently go to get something and then realize I don’t have it. When my brother moved, he bought a TV dinner to eat at home because he was too exhausted to cook and then realized he didn’t have a microwave.
At the store, I picked up a basket instead of a cart because if I get the cart that’s just an excuse to pile crap in there and I am on a budget, damn it! I can’t be grabbing things off of the shelves just because they’re shiny or have a cute polka dot print. I suppose it’s similar to how they (you know, them, the anonymous diet experts) recommend you portion out your food on a plate and not just eat out of a bag or container because you’ll eat everything that’s there. If I have a cart, I’ve got a lot more space to fill up before I make it to the cash register, whereas a basket limits what I can grab.
Not that I let this stop me though, because as I was walking through the home décor section I saw a 5-headed medusa-style lamp, the kind that lets you adjust the lamp heads. I needed a floor lamp so I could read on the couch and this was reasonably priced and most importantly – it matched my color scheme! So, basket or not, I had to have it. Only, it was kind of heavy, maybe 20 or 25 pounds. It was lighter than the big tubs of kitty litter I buy, but not by much.
But I am big, strong, exercising woman! So I didn’t let this daunt me. I carried the lamp box under my left arm and held my basket and purse in the right and headed for the check-out line. I suppose in this way it was good I had the basket because there was no way I was going to continue browsing with this box and it’s love affair with gravity under my arm. I also noticed that I can feel even more of my hip bones now than ever and this probably helped wedge the box under my arm.
When I got to the register, the check-out lady seemed absolutely aghast that I had carried this lamp across the store on my own. She made a little production out of it saying she couldn’t believe I’d carried it around without a cart. Now, it was heavy. And I did go get a cart to push the thing to my car. But was it really that big of a deal that I lugged this box halfway across the store?
As a woman, I’ve always taken a bit of pride in being able to carry my own groceries up the stairs, even if those plastic bags with 2 liters of soda cut into my flesh a little. I’ve never wanted to flail around and whine “It’s too heavy!” I kill my own bugs too. Being able to carry around heavy things without assistance is my little statement of independence. So I was a bit put off that this cashier thought it was a big deal that I’d carried a kind of heavy lamp across an air-conditioned retail store. It’s not like I chained a nightstand and matching vanity mirror to my back as I traipsed down the aisles.
She was very friendly though and I think she was just trying to make my shopping experience more pleasant by recommending a cart, so I’m not bitter towards her. However, I do believe some people think if you’re a woman you’re a delicate little thing who shouldn’t lift anything heavier than five pounds. Which irks me. Yes, men have the capacity to develop more upper body strength than woman, but it doesn’t mean I can’t move heavy objects too.
Back in school whenever a teacher needed something heavy moved, they’d always ask for the boys to do it. While I wasn’t eager to move flat file shelves across the room, I always felt it was a bit unfair that they just assumed all the boys would be stronger and more capable of moving things than the girls. And sure, probably the strongest people in the room would be some of the jockish guys, but it didn’t mean the girls were totally incapable either. If more is expected of you, if you are challenged more often, you are more likely to rise to those challenges. I think girls frequently aren’t challenged to do many of the things boys are, one of them being lifting heavy things. So I will carry my lamp across Target! Because I can, damn it!
ETA: Another thought: I think this is an example of how my mindset has changed in the past two years. Activities which most people would categorize as “unnecessary work,” I think of as “good exercise.” While most people might balk at carrying a heavy object across a store because it’s a lot of work, I do it exactly because it’s a lot of work.