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Tracy Beckerman column: Putting the horse before the shopping cart

Tracy Beckerman
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Savannah Morning News

Columns share an author’s personal perspective.

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There are two kinds of shopping carts in the world: Ones with normal wheels and ones with wonky wheels.

The normal carts glide along through the supermarket aisles quite easily. The ones with a wonky wheel pull off to the side like a drunk sailor, causing you to constantly have to pull the cart back into the aisle lest you smack into the cereal shelves and send dozens of boxes of Cap’n Crunch crashing down upon your poor, cursed, wonky cart-driving head.

For some reason, the wonky carts don’t usually reveal themselves when you first pull them out of the cart caddy. It’s not until you are well into the store and committed to that cart that you suddenly realize you have the cart from hell. This is kind of like discovering you have a leaky boat after you’ve already left port. It’s usually too late to turn back and regardless of how much maneuvering you do, you know you’re kinda sunk.

Since there are so many carts that seem to suffer from this malady, I assume this is some kind of manufacturer’s defect and have to wonder why there hasn’t been a widespread shopping cart recall to address this problem. Certainly if the shopping carts exploded on impact, they would do something about it. But until someone meets a tragic end in the frozen food aisle as the result of a wonky shopping cart wheel, I guess the shopping cart powers-that-be are going to do nothing.

Bad as it is to get an empty cart with a wonky wheel, it is downright torturous once your cart is loaded with groceries. For some reason, weight + wonky = more wonky, and it can become so hard to straighten out the cart that you feel like you are trying to turn around an elephant.

Additionally, the added weight of the groceries will often cause a cart with a wonky wheel to drift off down the aisle on its own while you have your back turned trying to get the healthy cereal off the top shelf where they put it because no one really wants to eat all that fiber. The next thing you know, your wonky cart is picking up speed and careening off to the opposite side where you catch it out of the corner of your eye just as it is about to hit some old lady with a walker and an oxygen tank. As you fling yourself off the cereal shelves to catch the wayward wonky cart, you catch your sleeve on the shelf and cause the whole top shelf of fiber cereal to pour down on your head, which is only slightly less painful than getting hit with a dozen boxes of Cap’n Crunch. Fortunately because of the trajectory of the wonky wheel, it will miss the old lady, but smack into the opposite aisle instead causing more things to fly off the shelves.

Leaving behind a trail of fallen food items in multiple aisles, you will finally make it to the checkout line, sweating and with complete muscle fatigue in one arm from wrestling with the shopping cart to keep it straight. As you steady the cart with your foot to keep it from wandering off again, you unload your groceries while the checkout girl beams at you and asks if you had a pleasant shopping experience.

At which point, you will look her in the eye and say, “It was wonkiful.”

You can follow Tracy on Twitter @TracyBeckerman and become a fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LostinSuburbiaFanPage.