There really is no mode of transportation as simple as the cart. My dad used an ox cart as a young man to move material on the farm but there are still agricultural carts used today to move grain. The cart is still as simple, useable and relevant today as ever; particularly at the grocery store. Three decades of cart-pushing and the self-reflection that occurs while at the helm of this chrome-covered convenience have combined in my mind to create some opinions on the cart.
I think one small rite of passage is when you graduate to a cart. I began shopping for my own groceries when I moved out of my parent’s home. I would grab a basket and fill it with whatever I felt like eating that day. At some point the basket became grossly overloaded at which point I became a grocery cart operator. I found the hierarchy of the grocery-store driving lanes is similar to a city street. The massive, child-carrying carts are the kings of the grocery lane, like a truck. The regular carts are like family sedans while the basket carriers are the mopeds. A new model showed up recently which is called the two-tiered cart. This cart has two small baskets stacked vertically and is like a basket with training wheels and so is a nice transition to the full-size cart. This cart is basically the smart-car of the grocery lane. There are also a few powered grocery carts and if you know Casey Skjerven, you might have heard a story of his failed encounter with such a cart as he recovered from surgery. It is his story so you will have to ask him to tell it if you see him.
I put my cart away after I’ve used it. There are those who don’t. It seems to me only just that after such reliable service, a grocery cart deserves proper re-stabling at a cart corral. The simplest way to ensure your own, personal compliance with store policy on leaving your cart at the corral is to always park your car near the corral. It just makes sense.
I like to push the envelope when I shop. My theory is that the grocery cart is my transport and I it’s’ mobile foot soldier. I like to park my cart somewhere quiet, reconnoiter the grocery aisle, grab what we need and then return to cart. I also take joy in a nice full cart. Bulky items such as toilet paper belong on the bottom but some heavy items like cat litter should also be placed on the bottom for ballast. This dude does not abide a top-heavy cart.
When I shop at Hugo’s; I finish up at the check-out, pause to remember super-bagger Larry Myhrer then head for the door. Cart envy rears it’s ugly head and I wish I could have used the smaller, two-tiered cart on this particular shopping trip. I eyeball the sporty little units as I leave for the parking lot. I then remind myself how lucky it is that I have the cart and how fortunate I am not following a team of oxen pulling a cart from Roseau to Thief River Falls sometime early in the 20th century.