Please Do Not Adjust Your Shopping Carts

The grocery store was transformed today by the broadcasting of the Canada/America Olympic Hockey game over the supermarket’s PA system. It was extremely difficult to make out any of the details of what the announcer was actually saying do to the poor acoustics and speakers. One was left with a War of the Worlds effect in which the essence of hockey excitement was distilled from any actual game content. It was a strange soundtrack to accompany grocery shopping, the live media feed linking the florescent-lit aisles of provisions with the illusion of live action from an ice rink in Vancouver. Not that I disbelieve that the hockey game was actually occuring, but had the announcer being talking about alien spacecraft tromping through the cities of North America on telescoping metal legs, I doubt that the sense of tension and unreality in the store would have been any less pronounced.

At the check-out counters, all the staff had little temporary Olympic tattoos on their cheeks, and the cashier who was ringing through my goods commented on how tense she felt just at that moment. The game had just gone into overtime, though I’m not sure how anyone could have told from the announcers account, unintelligible as it was from distortion of the sound system.

When we arrived back home with our groceries, there was flag waving and horn honking on the street, and I marveled at the manner in which the sense of impersonal community is formed through sports rituals such as Olympic hockey. Happily, it is a largely innocuous form of collective celebration, and offers no threat of actually awakening people to a sense of their solidarity and power to change the world for the better.



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