“Are you SURE this is what you wanted? You’re SURE?”

Fine — I’m not qualified to charge people for my fitness advice, but one of the consequences of having lost about 45 lbs in 5 weeks and somehow managed to maintain the weight loss and build muscle consistently ever since has been, well, a better understanding of how the whole working out/nutrition thing works. If I hadn’t sought out a proper education in these matters, I’d have found the whole thing a lot harder to keep up. Instead, it’s become easier and easier, and I have to think about it less and less.

This afternoon, just as I was leaving the gym, I remembered I wanted to buy some creatine and a simple whey protein powder. I didn’t really think about it — I didn’t wonder whether this was a good or bad idea, or how much better it might be to get casein protein instead of whey, or whether I should just skip the creatine and go for, who knows, anabolic steroids, maybe? I was in a dream built by routine.

At the counter, though, just as I was about to pay for the protein powder and creatine, the lady (who’d been perfectly friendly and a little awkward in herself the whole time) said, “So, are you sure this is what you want? You’re sure? Completely?”

I don’t think I even registered my own bafflement. “Um. Yes. Well. I mean.”

“This is what you were looking for, right?” She pointed at the protein and creatine.

“Um. Yes. Did I…” I caught myself preparing to ask her if I’d made some mistake, as though she had the authority to tell me what I’d really been trying to buy. “Yes.”

“Okay, great! Just stick your card in the machine here…” and the ordinary shopping experience resumed.

For a few minutes, as I walked home, I was a mix of confused and slightly indignant. What’s wrong with protein powder? What’s wrong with creatine? These are probably two of the most uncontroversial things you can add to your diet when it comes to strength training!

The likely thing is that she just wanted to make sure I’d found what I had been looking for. That store has lots of different kinds of protein powder, and supplements with names that are more effective than the supplements themselves. It’s easy to get lost in that jungle. But I didn’t need that help, right? I know what I’m doing, more or less. Right?

But what was striking was my reaction to it, and the reason for my incredulity. I don’t think I’ve ever been asked, ever, ever, by the (EVER!) person selling me something, whether I was sure about my purchase. Not like that — not in a way that snapped me out of the shopping daydream and made me look at what was going on around me, at myself, at where I was, at the transaction itself.

I’m fairly sure I’d have a lot less random junk stored in drawers if I’d been asked that question before. Ignoring my original indignation, I think, now, that awkward salespeople might be the best form of resistance against capitalism.


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