Speaking of trolleys, I just remembered that I have another shopping trolley story. If you know my high school friends, you’ve likely heard this one before, but I’m pretty sure even the Bible says there are no new stories and that’s the best-selling book in history, so I don’t feel too obliged to be original all the time. Surely that would be tiresome – who wants to hear the same old “I’ve got a new idea!” every day?
So, disclaimer dispensed with, we’re going to go back in time to probably Year 9. I had a group of friends who referred to ourselves as The Six of Us, even though there frequently weren’t actually six of us. Sometimes there were only four or five and sometimes up to eight or nine – but what high schooler knows how to count? Anyway, the Six of Us did a drama class on Thursday afternoons – except I think in this case “six” means “five”. (On a side note, I’m beginning to wonder if other people have this much trouble explaining the minor details of their stories? Two paragraphs into a terribly short story and I’ve not even begun it yet. No wonder I’m not a rich and famous writer: Though come to think of it, Stephen King spends a lot of time waffling on about teeny tiny unimportant details and in this way takes 1500 pages to tell a story that could have been over with in half that time. And his stuff is pretty popular. Maybe I am on the right track after all.)
Speaking of tracks, there really are none in this story. But we did have to walk all the way from our own school, across a shopping centre, out the fire escape because it was more convenient for us than the front entrance, then up Anzac Parade and over the road to the drama school. The whole trip probably could have taken ten minutes but it generally took us a lot longer than that. Five impressionable, easily distracted high school girls with assorted backpacks, binders, maths texts and art diaries can move very slowly, you see.
One day Rachel had an Idea. She was good at those. Almost every day she bothered us with “I’ve got a new idea!” and you know, even though she always sounded so enthusiastic about them, I’m not entirely convinced that we should ever have listened. In fairness, this was a good one: Let’s put all our baggage into a shopping trolley because that is, after all, much easier than everyone having to carry all our things around! And we all went “Ohhhh” because it was genius, and so obvious now that she mentioned it. So we dumped all the backpacks and lunch boxes and jumpers into a trolley and wheeled it easily across the shopping centre floor and we all wondered why no one had ever thought to utilise trolleys in this way before. What a novel idea.
Then we encountered an obstacle: the fire stairs. The fire escape was barred by a big heavy door, followed by a flight of concrete steps, and then a second big heavy door that led out to the street. And not like a straight up flight of stairs, one of those narrow windy ones where you have to change direction on each landing. Have you ever tried to carry a trolley up some fire stairs? I have. It was unbelievably awkward, five girls in that confined space, wrestling to lift an overladen shopping trolley, and twist it around the corners, and keep the heavy fire doors open because there actually weren’t any lights in that little stairwell and when the door slammed shut it was pitch black inside. We struggled. We pushed and pulled and we fought with that trolley. We had no choice really: once we’d started, we couldn’t very well give up halfway, because now the trolley was wedged in our way and we could no longer pass. Besides, it had all our things in it. And eventually we prevailed: we dragged it up the last step, and out into the sunlight, and stood there panting and sweating.
That would be about the time that one of the more logical Six (or five, as the case may be) pointed out: “It would have been easier just to take our bags out and carry them ourselves” and Rachel said “Oh, I didn’t think of that.” She honestly thought that her way was better – and I have to admit, she managed to convince the rest of us, at least for a little while. Which just goes to show how influential one can be, if only one speaks with conviction.