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  • "They smell like wet dogs, they do" said the supermarket checkout man to me, in a Scottish town on a snowy winter day, as I pushed my shopping onto the conveyor.
    "Eh?" I asked, puzzled.
    "Wet dogs. Thats what they smell like" he repeated.
    "Wet dogs?" I said, still puzzled.
    "Yes" he replied.
    "I have no idea what you're talking about" I smiled.
    "Polar bears" he said.
    "Polar bears?" I said, looking behind me instinctively.
    "Yes polar bears" and he pointed to the cover of the wildlife magazine lying amongst my shopping.

    "Hmm. I didn't know that" I said
    "True" he replied "only two things smell like a wet dog and one's a wet dog, the other is a polar bear."
    "Errr umm how do you know so much about polar bears then?" I enquired.
    "Ha! I was born in northern Norway! We were warned about it as children. If you smell a wet dog, and there's no dogs in sight, run. Just check which way you're running!"
    "How do you know which way to run then" I asked.
    "You learn."

    I left with my shopping out into the snow. And ran.
    The only way I'd learned.
    Straight to my vehicle.

    Never underestimate the experience and wisdom of the checkout people in supermarkets, you may live to regret it (or perhaps not).
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