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There is an arcade of shops near where I live,
Named for Isaac, and Heinrich, and Blaise.
This story involves one such unit,
But with times to obtain a result:

Leaving a store where I bought rings and a necklace,
Making passionate debate with a friend,
I was bumped by a man walking into the shop,
And became lost for a brief instant, uncertain.

My argument faltered as the culprit escaped,
My companion took the chance to outgun me.
It might sound like he took my purchase by speed,
But of what was I really robbed?

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This answer is a combination of my own answer and @Bass's, for completeness... Go upvote his answer too if you like this one!

I (I guess, we, rather!) wonder whether you were robbed of your:

Momentum?

First, what does this particular shop sell, and how does it fit into the puzzle?

You mention that in this row of shops some are named after 'Isaac, Heinrich and Blaise'. These would correspond to the scientists Isaac Newton, Heinrich Hertz and Blaise Pascal. All of their surnames are SI-derived units (for force, frequency and pressure, respectively).

Since you bought 'rings and a necklace' you were in a jewellers, buying jewels. 'Jewels' is a homophone of 'Joules' - the SI-derived unit for energy, equivalent to $$ kgm^2s^{-2}$$ Given the other shops in this row it is entirely possible this pun-worthy shop ('one such unit') was named after James Prescott Joule.

What happens when the man bumps into you?

You lost your momentum - in two ways: both your balance/stability and the flow of your conversation ("My argument faltered..."). This is emphasised by becoming 'lost for a brief instant, uncertain' since in quantum mechanics (thanks @Bass) when your momentum is known, the uncertainty principle dictates that your position must become unknown. i.e. you became a probability cloud of possible positions.

There is an even simpler wordplay reading of this line too: a 'brief instant' is a moment and when you are 'uncertain' you might say um - put them together for an extra clue towards the answer of momentum...

@Bass was also able to explain the line re "It might sound like he took my purchase by speed":

Recall how your purchase being jewels, this sounds like the SI-derived unit 'joules' (as per the puzzle theme). "Joules by speed" (i.e. Joules divided by speed) where the units for speed are $$ ms^{-1} $$ gives us $$ \frac{J}{ms^{-1}} = \frac{kgm^2s^{-2}}{ms^{-1}} = \frac{kgm}{s} $$ which is the standard unit of momentum.

So, all in all, although it sounds like the man robbed you of what you had just bought:

Actually, what you had but have now lost as a result of the collision is your momentum.

As for the title:

All along we have been 'labouring under a misunderstanding' that we should be pronouncing 'ROW' in the title in the sense of an argument, as if it rhymes with the animal 'COW'. Instead, we should be pronouncing it as if it rhymes with 'GO' - because the ROW-homophone RHO is the Greek letter that is sometimes used to represent momentum in physics (although often it is just a letter 'p').

Also, the use of Labour in the title points towards the UK left-wing political party of the same name. Specifically, the Labour party is affiliated (albeit unofficially) with a grassroots political organisation whose name is 'Momentum'. (There is also a further possible political connection here, in that scientific 'momentum' is always conserved. Since the Conservative party are the political polar opposite of the Labour party, you might be considered as 'Labouring under a Misunderstanding' if you connect the meaning of 'momentum' with the non-conservative party...)

It seems there were plenty of hints throughout this puzzle - hopefully I've rounded almost all of them up now!

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  • $\begingroup$ You are headed in the right direction, but there are a couple more layers & clues that you've missed - for example, check the last couple of lines for each paragraphs carefully. The first spoiler block is correct until the last sentence, where you run out of steam. As for the title: spelling may or may not be important, and you may have misred something in that Region... $\endgroup$ – Chronocidal Jan 28 at 16:30
  • $\begingroup$ And here's the correct answer :) You've over-thought the last sentence of the second line though: what is another name for a brief instant, and what do you say when you're uncertain? There's also a UK Political movement which while conserved is not Conservative $\endgroup$ – Chronocidal Jan 29 at 8:54
  • $\begingroup$ Congrats on 20k rep! I just put you there :-D $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Jan 30 at 8:14
  • $\begingroup$ Haha! Thanks @Randal'Thor! :) $\endgroup$ – Stiv Jan 30 at 8:28
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I almost added a comment to one of the other answers, but since I couldn't decide which would need less editing to match this idea, here it is in its own answer:

Were you robbed of your

Momentum?

When you were bumped, you became hazy, because

You lost your momentum. When your momentum is known, the uncertainty principle dictates that your position must become unknown. -> you became a probability cloud of possible positions.

It might sound like he took my purchase by speed,

Your purchase was Jewels (joules), and "joules by speed" is $$ \frac{J}{ms^{-1}} = \frac{kgm^2s^{-2}}{ms^{-1}} = \frac{kgm}{s} $$ which is the standard unit of momentum.

If one of the other guys became convinced that this might be a good solution, please take it and use it as your own, I have to run now, and won't have the time to write a proper answer today.

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    $\begingroup$ Nice - this makes sense, good job Bass +1 It has also helped me spot something extra in the title. I'll incorporate it and credit you :) $\endgroup$ – Stiv Jan 28 at 18:28
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Since this question contains many references to

Scientists and Scientific Units

Were you robbed of your:

position?

Making passionate debate with a friend,

Defending your position

And became lost for a brief instant, uncertain.

Reference to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. Only the SPEED or POSITION of a particle can be known at the same time

My argument faltered

You LOST your position

It might sound like he took my purchase by speed,

Actually, Your speed is what REMAINS

But of what was I really robbed?

The position

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