Dans le Sac

Many years ago, when I had just started shopping for my own groceries, (after I was a student — students only buy a few small items every day or two), the supermarkets brought out an innovation. It was a sturdy plastic bag that fitted neatly inside the entire carrying space of a typical supermarket trolley. The idea was that you placed it in the empty trolley at the checkout and filled it with the paid-for items. Then you pushed the trolley to your car in the car park, and neatly lifted the lot into the boot. When you got home, you could similarly take the entire fruits of your shopping trip into the house all in one go.

I have a nagging and disturbing memory that the device was called a “trolli sac” or some similar linguistic abomination, but I bought a couple anyway. Lots of people did; but it didn’t take long before they fell out of use. For the original purpose anyway. Mine are storing spare duvets and my camping gear in the attic.

You see, the inventor had missed one important fact. A full “trolli sac” is far too heavy for most people to lift comfortably. I was lying about mine only being used for storage. I keep a third one in the boot of my car, and use it for part of its designed raison d’√™tre: I fill it from the trolley while in the car park, and use it to carry all the stuff into the house when I get home, something I did earlier today. (It stops the things rolling around in the boot. You should see how I drive.)

I don’t know, I should have thought of stepping onto the scales with it before putting all the groceries away, but I guess it probably weighed between thirty and forty kilos. Which isn’t all that much, just about the weight of the packs that Royal Marines yomp cross-country with, but totally impossible for, say, a petite woman shopper to lift out of a trolley.

So somebody invented that, other people thought it was a good idea and commissioned thousands of them to be made, and yet the thing is largely useless for its designed purpose. I can only conclude that no adequate testing of prototypes ever took place.

(You an actually buy the descendants of the “trolli sac” today: a set of three bags that fill the space in your trolley. Obviously, the major shortcoming of excessive weight is solved, but I’ve never seen them used in real life. Perhaps it’s an idea whose time has passed.)

But having observed and learned the lesson of the “trolli sac”, I’ll be sure to test my inventions thoroughly. I’ll be looking for volunteers. Here are a couple of ideas.

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