Month: September 2011

Ejo #21 – Dangerous Doug Narrowly Avoids Death (By Shopping Trolley)

This month’s ejo is a relatively short one as David and I have been travelling (yes again!) – this time to Spain for three weeks.  I’ll be writing a bit about that in a future ejo but in the meantime, if you are interested in checking out my new photographic series, titled “The Balconies Of Madrid”, you can do so here: The Balconies Of Madrid.


In other news, you’ll be pleased to know that I’ve been chatting to my friend and colleague, Doug, about another of his interesting “life experiences”.  When he was living in the neighbouring emirate of Sharjah several years ago, he would often drive into Dubai to do his weekly grocery shop, as the supermarkets here are larger and better stocked.  One hot summer morning, about ten years ago, he made the 20 minute commute to the Carrefour supermarket at Deira City Centre Mall – shopping list in hand, ready to stock up for the coming week.


He shopped up a storm, filling his shopping trolley with groceries.  Walking past the fish section, he noticed that they had a really good discount on fresh salmon – his favourite!!!  He jumped at the chance to buy a whole (three foot long) salmon as, even though he loved it, he rarely bought it since it was usually so expensive.  He was very excited at the prospect of several salmon dinners, and smiled contentedly as the fishmonger cut up the fish into 25 steaks, wrapping the whole lot up in paper.


After picking up a few more items, he made his way to the register and paid for his shopping, pushing his fully laden trolley out of the supermarket into the busy mall.  Now, Doug assures me that in those days, in Dubai, you could take a trolley onto a step escalator – there were no poles barring the way.  So he did what he always did, which was push the trolley onto the down escalator, holding the front of the trolley up.  Usually this worked.  But for some reason his trolley was fuller and heavier than usual and he was having a bit of trouble holding it up (maybe it was the extra 5kgs of salmon?).  No problem, he thought, and very carefully lowered the front of the trolley down until it rested on the step below – which was quite a steep angle but made it much easier to hold.  Problem solved.


He made the journey to the bottom of the escalator without incident.  However (and you were kinda hoping there’d be a ‘however’, weren’t you?), when he got to the bottom, before he had a chance to lift up the front of the shopping cart, it jammed in the lip of the escalator and got stuck.  The escalator, of course, kept moving.  Somehow, in attempting to lift the heavy trolley up and over the lip, Doug lost his balance and fell down, and before he knew it he was carried under the trolley by the force of the forward movement.  In a split second he was trapped under the trolley with the metal bar pushing up against his neck – unable to push the trolley up and over his body and inexorably being dragged forward by the moving escalator.  He saw his life flash before his eyes.


Luckily for Doug (and for us all, really), a guy who had been about to step onto the other escalator going up, noticed that Doug was about to meet his maker and jumped over the partition onto the other side.  He lifted the trolley up, freeing both it and Doug from almost certain death (or at least serious injury).  Our friend was unceremoniously dumped in a quivering heap with several of his groceries at the bottom of the escalator.  By Doug’s estimation, if the guy had been another two seconds it may have been too late.


He profusely (and sheepishly) thanked the good Samaritan and, quickly gathering up his strewn groceries, got the hell out of there to avoid any more unwanted attention.  His whole body was shaking with adrenalin as he pushed the trolley to his little Astra and unloaded the shopping into the boot.  He carefully drove home, still quivering and thanking his lucky stars for his narrow escape.  He couldn’t help running the scenario in his mind, over and over again – thinking of just how close he had come to perhaps dying under a supermarket trolley in a crowded mall.


When he got home he tried to shake the whole thing off and, even though it was just after lunchtime he poured himself a soothing glass of scotch to help calm his nerves.  He’d just had a near-death experience after all.  It was medicinal.  Anyway, he spent the rest of the day relaxing and taking it easy.


The next day Doug was rostered to work an afternoon shift, so after lunch he went down to his car to head over to the airport.   Approaching the car park he noticed a foul smelling odour, but thought nothing of it.  It was the middle of summer after all and sometimes the heat makes things pretty stinky.  As he got closer to his car, however, the stench became more and more unbearable.  And when he opened his car door and sat inside, he slowly came to the realisation that the smell was coming from inside the vehicle.  He got out and opened the boot after it finally dawned on him that, in his shaken state the day before, he had neglected to unload his groceries from the car.  What he could smell was the decaying funk of five kilograms of putrid salmon that had been left in the car for close to a day and a half.  And not just the salmon, but fruit and vegetables, milk, cheese and yoghurt.  Everything perishable had gone terribly, terribly off in the 40°C (104°F) heat.  Doug threw the rancid contents of his boot away and drove to work, gagging the whole way.  In fact it took close to a week of driving with the windows down to get rid of the smell (and it never really totally disappeared).


Two weeks later, Doug went back to the mall only to find that barrier poles had been placed in front of the escalators to prevent trolleys being pushed onto them.  Doug reckons some security guard had seen his incident on CCTV and initiated the safety measure.  Not that he would have been in a hurry to repeat his performance anyway, but it was probably a very good idea!