My gym is located in Sandvika Storsenter, one of the largest shopping centres in Europe. In the weeks before Christmas, I had to give up on trying to get to a Saturday lunchtime class as the chances of getting a parking space in one of the two car parks was so small. The experience of even trying to park was very stressful. Honestly, people really play dirty in these car parks, beeping horns, cutting you off and staring at you menacingly; it is NOT for the feint or even kind-hearted. On several occasions, I drove down there only to return home 30 mins later, saying; 'Well at least I tried. Sorta.'
So you'd think now with Christmas over, people would be broke, fed up of shopping, and out enjoying the sunshine on their skiis. But oh no! Yesterday, I only managed to get a car space in the second car park I tried by sheer chance and the fact that there was nobody driving intimidatingly behind me. I was still in the car park when the class I planned to do started and then I had to walk several miles from one end of the Senter to the other; it was like walking through a theme park, complete with balloons, queues and claustrophobia. A theme park where the theme was shopping. WHY anyone would drag their kids into this hell hole on a saturday, I cannot figure out!
I know it's cold outside folks but still; wouldn't staying home and reading a book or drinking yourself to oblivion, or both, be much healthier than navigating a shopping mall with thousands of other families? And what about your reputation for making the most of the great outdoors, whatever the weather? Why did you choose instead to queue for over-priced cups of coffee in cardboard cups, bribe your children into submission with balloons and Build-a-Bear boxes, and trudge around a crowded mall, away from the wonderful sun which shone so brightly?
Well, after a feeble attempt at using the treadmill, the only shopping I attempted was for ski wax. Having seen the queue in the sports shop, I was relieved to find the shelf with the wax suitable for the current temperatures was completly empty. Who bought it, I don't know because it sure looked to me like half the population of west Oslo was shopping not skiing yesterday. The other half seemed to be prowling around the car park or stuck at the roundabouts on the approach roads to the Senter. It was crazy!
A couple of hours later, we took to our skiis en familie and did not see one other skiier. The sun shone in a pure blue sky and the landscape looked stunning. So the question is: Have we become more Norwegian than the Norwegians? or are Norwegians now choosing shopping over skiiing as a way to spend their saturdays? It seems the answer may be 'yes' to both.