An Afternoon with a Shopping Cart


I recently stunned my wife by volunteering to go to the grocery store for her.  I wanted to help (and really wanted to try pushing my own cart).


I noticed that some shoppers will forego the shopping cart and grab the hand basket.  This is a mistake. No matter how few items a shopper intends to purchase, it cannot possibly be more convenient to carry the weight in one’s arms than push a cart on wheels. These people do not possibly hold their grocery sack in their lap as they drive home instead of putting the bag in the trunk do they? 


Maybe, these shoppers feel guilty because the carts are heavily used all day long.


I, however, had just seen about a hundred carts right out front of the store just hanging around doing nothing. I grabbed a cart, but, of course, I picked a bad one. As I shot into the store, I quickly noticed that only three of the four wheels touched the ground. I briefly considered returning the cart, but my delicate conscience could not bear discarding the disabled cart (or the shaming looks of others watching me do so).


I quickly remedied the problem by loading heavy items over the hovering front right wheel.  All was fine, except due to the disproportioned weight, I could no longer turn left.  (I had always favored my right and had never before realized how useful the left was.)  When I needed to turn left, I did the following: turn right; pretend to check my shopping list (old gas receipt); lightly shake my head like I forgot an item; and then continue going right until I was heading in the right direction (which was to my left originally). 


These steps enabled me to go where I needed without drawing attention to my cart’s disability.


My shopping was stalled by a woman with her cart parked in the middle of the aisle comparing prices of soups on either side of the aisle ($1 per can or 10 cans for $10). Does she not know the rules of the road? Did she not drive her car to the grocery store?


I must assume that if this woman were in her car and did not know which way to turn, she would stop in the middle of the intersection and put her car in park.  Take a look to the right.  Take a look to the left.  Call her husband and ask if he had a preference. 


I for one would hate for her to have to turn right, only to have to turn around and later turn left, especially in the context of a store aisle, where the margin of error is three feet.  And so I waited patiently (carts do not have horns).


After time I continued my shopping, but I never made it to the register. I had this eerie feeling that I was being followed—up one aisle, down the next—by almost everyone in the store.