The one thing, however, that can quickly ruin an otherwise glorious trip to the grocery store, is a lousy cart. I do, in fact, often decide which store to patronize, based exclusively on the quality of their shopping carts.
The worst is Walmart. I shop there only when necessary, because they have the hinkiest carts in the universe. You have to live for excitement to enjoy that moment when the cart suddenly veers into a rack of glass jars, as one of the wheels inexplicably decides to stop turning. There are usually layers upon layers of filth and grime on the push handle – the flavor of which apparently pleases my one year old – and the minute you load the basket with a gallon of milk and a rump roast, the whole cart pulls to the side and one of the wheels offers a rhythmic hitch to the rest of your excursion. And that doesn’t even get me started on the child restraint issues. What would it take to occasionally replace those plastic latches on the seatbelt? Does my toddler need the opportunity to high dive from the seat to the tile, while I’m digging through the produce, trying to find one, decently ripe avocado?
Target, by far, has the best carts. They have the kiddy carts with the big red seat that allow two kids to ride in style at a time. I sometimes go out of my way to shop at Target, just to enjoy the sweet, smooth drive of their Cadillac carts. Of course, for what they charge for beer, they can afford to keep their carts nice.
Fareway is really my ultimate favorite. They have a small town grocer mentality. Their meat counter is renowned for great deals and great cuts. They even empty your cart for you at the checkout, push your groceries out to your vehicle and load them in the trunk while you stand and watch them, or strap in your toddler. Hyvee and Dahls – it takes over an hour to get my shopping done, as I have to wade through aisle after aisle of unnecessary varieties and absurd merchandise, intended to rope me into impulse purchases. But at Fareway, I get what I need and I get out – in 45 minutes or less. And their carts are always in good, working order. Or at least they always were…
This week, Fareway failed me miserably. My toddler wanted to ride in a "car" cart, so I put her in, but didn't stop to strap her, because she's always been content in the car. I was already three isles into it (and therefore a million miles away from the other carts), when she started climbing out to do her own shopping. I went for containment, but found that the seatbelts in the car were broken, so I was out of luck. Obviously, I didn’t meet my 45 minute shopping goal, because the highlights of the trip included repeated confrontations over her picking things off of shelves, doing at least half my shopping carrying a wiggling worm who wanted to escape from my hip, and knocking over a giant cardboard display full of boxes of tea. The good news was that in her attempts to escape me, she only bonked her head twice, once in front, once in back.
God bless the staff at Fareway, though, who never seemed troubled at all by my ill-behaved little turkey, even when 50 boxes of tea were strewn across the aisle. After she threw her final meltdown in the checkout line, when I was ready to push the cart with the broken straps off a cliff, the sweet older gentleman pushing our groceries out to our car gave my little terror the warmest smile, pulled out a candy necklace and said, “Maybe she will like this; thanks so much for shopping with us today.”
OK, Fareway, I’ll be back – but would you please fix the seatbelts in the car cart? And don’t think for a minute I actually rewarded her behavior with candy. I think you know who deserved a treat after that shopping trip.
Their chariot wheels got stuck, and it was hard for them to move. Exodus 14:25