I’m not sure how it happens. Sometimes it’s the only cart left. Other times I grab one quickly without looking. By the time I realize that I have once again failed with my selection, I’m so far past the cart corral that I don’t bother returning it. Sometimes I have a squirmy baby or a whiny kid and I grab the closest one to the car. Then again, there are times I have plain old shitty luck. Regardless on how I get there, I ALWAYS grab the most annoying grocery carts. I seem to have some sort of inner ghetto energy that pulls me toward the worst cart in the store.
It’s a typical grocery day and I have Maggie in tow so I carefully choose my cart. 350 carts to choose from so I am forced to use some common sense. The first 6 are soaking wet from the rain. I grab the 7th one in the line up. I am happy with this choice since it is not only dry but also shiny. Shiny means new, right? Wrong. I wrestle Maggie into the child seat facing me and reach for the belt while holding her with one hand. All was going well until I tried to buckle the strap. Murphy’s law. I grab the one with a broken belt. Crap. There is a herd of mom’s behind me all trying to get out of the rain and they are all jockeying for the dry carts. The pressure is on. There is no way I am shopping with Maggie trying to climb out every 2 seconds. I can see it now. I will reach for a can of peas and in those few seconds she will be standing up threatening to jump. I NEED that safety belt. I pick her up and donate my cart to an older lady who politely nods her approval. My next move is dangerous. I have to move against traffic and find a shopping cart that actually works. It’s a frenzy of activity but I keep my eye on the prize. I see one. The belt isn’t broken and it seems to be dry so I lunge toward it before it is stolen from under my nose. I give it a good pull to unlock it from the line up and buckle Maggie in quickly. Finally, phase one is complete. I have a cart. There is an overwhelming sense of accomplishment.
I take a few minutes to catch my breath and find my grocery list. Straight ahead of me is the produce. I’m not sure why but grocery stores always arrange the store so you walk into the produce section. I’m guessing they do it so the customer is impressed by their freshest selections but there are several problems with this layout. First, no matter which way you slice it, the produce section is very competitive. The same herd of people jockeying for the grocery carts are now competing for that last bunch of perfect bananas and the 2 for 1 bagged salad. Let’s all be honest, nobody wants the Mediterranean mix and the Garden mix is almost gone. Get your game face on bitches, it’s everybody for themselves in produce. The second problem is that my fresh, delicate produce ends up at the bottom of my cart squashed by cream of chicken soup and bottle of apple juice. Hello? Move the produce to the middle of the store and make my life easier please. Wouldn’t it be nice to walk into canned items? Throw some of those suckers in my cart and create a nice “base”. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, I’m inching my way through the produce section elbowing suburban housewives for the good stuff until finally I have all the veggies on my list.
Maggie is getting a little restless because she likes to be moving so the timing couldn’t have been better. We pick up some speed and fly past the onions. Maggie claps and giggles as her baby hair blows in the wind. This is fun. I spice it up and make dumb car sounds to entertain Maggie. Clearly, after 4 kids, I don’t give a damn what I look like in public. We are having a good time until I need to turn right to get around the end cap of potato chips. I try to steer right but it won’t turn. I try again but she doesn’t budge. Now I’m frustrated. I use every speck of forearm muscle to go right but “Bessie” wants to go left. I was determined and I pulled harder this time. I mutter under my breath “C’mon turn riiiiiiggght”. The back wheels turned slightly and I get a glimmer of hope but then the front wheels seem to stop rolling all together. This is the moment when I realized that this cart didn’t have any idea how to go right. Not a clue. Did I really trade a cart with a broken child safety strap for THIS? This is unacceptable. I feel like I am pushing a dog into the front door of the vet’s office. A small crowd is gathering behind me as if I’m holding up traffic on purpose. I am huffing and puffing and using all of my energy to turn this little bitch to the right. I can feel myself slipping away from reality and having my own emotional war with this hunk of metal. “C’mon! “ I snap. I’m not sure where my strength came from but somehow I channeled all of my energy into the cart and pulled it so hard to the right that it finally listened and went right! RIGHT INTO THE END CAP OF CHIPS. Both my strength and anger shocked me as I watched the display tumble all over the floor in slow motion. I felt success and failure at that same moment in time. Maggie brings me back to reality with her emotional description of what has happened in front of her. “Oh no! Uh oh! Uh oh Mommy!” There are at least 15 bags of chips on the ground and the whole cardboard display is still wobbling. My jaw drops as I look at the huge mess I have created. I’m mortified at first and then I get pissed. It’s not my fault! The stupid cart wouldn’t turn right. Prissy housewives stare at me in disgust as I begin to clean up and put the potato chips back on the shelf. I would make a comment about how nobody offered to help me but I can’t say I blame them. I’m sure the look on my face was less than approachable. Within a few minutes a manager crouched down next to me and helped me pick up the last few bags of chips. “Thank you” I said. I’m sorry but this really wasn’t my fault!” “Oh. It’s no big deal mam” This poor soul. He is trying to help and I can’t help myself. All of the frustration comes to a boiling point. “You guys need to give your shopping carts a little love. They are in rough shape. The first one I grabbed had a broken lap belt and this one only turns right.” I couldn’t stop complaining once I got going. It felt good to yell at a human. Yelling at a metal basket on wheels just isn’t the same. I continued with my rant. “The others are soaking wet from the rain, filled with trash, or have sticky handle bars. It’s ridiculous!” At that exact moment in time I actually felt a little crazy. He confirmed it when he gave me the “you’re a crazy bitch” look. I felt ridiculous but at the same time it was all true. He did his best to calm me down. “I’m so sorry. Can I get you a new cart?” Now I’m humiliated and frustrated and all I want to do is leave. “No. That’s all right. I think I’m done for today.” I grabbed all of my produce. Threw the diaper bag over my shoulder and helped Maggie out of the cart.
I checked out at the register and went home with a bunch of veggies that day. As I drove home in the rain, I dreamed about how easy my life would be if they kept their grocery carts as fresh as their produce. Who am I kidding? That grocery cart is just like my life. I think everything is going just as I planned and then there comes a time when I need to make a decision. I choose right but the only way to succeed is to go left. Don’t waste your time fighting it, take the path of least resistance and own that ghetto cart baby!