Dances with Carts

Shopping carts are the bane of my existence. It seems I have an uncanny knack for choosing ones that are both polluted with germs (Gak!) and hideously deficient in some unforeseen manner (i.e. equipped with a smarmy, foul-smelling handle or some gunked-up, pathetic semblance of wheels that lurch and rattle and are positively driven to move me in any direction but straight).

For whatever reason, I tend to poo-poo the many and varied imperfections at first, foolishly thinking that I won’t have to tolerate them all that long and they certainly won’t be all that bothersome in the end. Moreover, the truly vexing nature of most of the rogues I choose doesn’t become readily apparent until I’ve already journeyed halfway through the produce aisle, mindlessly fingering the fruit and considering whether we need more carrots or romaine. By then I’m committed to the match made in hell. For better or for worse. Till death do us part. Or at least until I manage to shove the misfit-of-a-cart through the checkout line or muscle it to my car where I can finally ditch it for a better life.

To add insult to injury, I often have to endure such hardships with my heathens in tow—the lovely creatures who yearn to make each and every shopping excursion I embark upon more memorable. And they do. Whining incessantly about this or that item—the one that the mean-and-horrible-troll-lady won’t let them have. Wrestling over the matter of who gets to man the cart first. Wooing me with pleas for sinfully sugary cereals and those sickly sweet gummy snack-a-ma-call-its that ought to be removed from the planet altogether.

Apparently it is not enough to be blessed with a wayward cart.

And once I make that regrettable and irrevocable decision to allow one of my miscreants to navigate the treacherous trail ahead, my fate is sealed. Someone’s ankles will indeed pay the price. Likely, mine. Despite the innumerable lectures I’ve delivered, the live demonstrations I’ve provided and the vat of instructional guidance I’ve offered on the subject, my two dandies, though well-intended, are physically incapable of maneuvering from Point A to Point B without smashing into someone or something. Granted, the aforementioned errant and evil wheel-a-ma-jigs do little to further their cause.

Not surprisingly, at some point during each supermarket tour my patience usually wanes with the pushing-of-the-cart-ludicrousness, climaxing shamefully somewhere between the toothpaste/shampoo aisle and the frozen foods section (i.e. the beast that is mommy rears her ugly head). As I return to the helm, attempting to pilot that which refuses to be piloted, I am met with yet another challenge: that of effectively communicating to my brood the notion of walking single file. My futile commands typically go something like this: “Okay girls, someone is coming toward us now and we need to walk single file.” “Girls?” “Hellooooooo. This stinking aisle isn’t WIDE enough for all three of us AND another cart to pass—is any of that remotely registering with you two?!”

Of course, neither child of mine responds, so engrossed are they with hanging onto the sides of my cart, eyeing the shelves for more of that which is forbidden. I must then stop the cart and clumsily move them—as if they were a couple of giant chess pieces—either in front or in back of me, smiling apologetically to the person now upon us. Again and again I repeat this cart dance—this utter lunacy, aisle after aisle, both stunned and amazed that creatures capable of telling me anything and everything I might want to know about a Euoplocephalus dinosaur cannot grasp the concept of hiking somewhere single file.

And let us not forget the times when one or both “helpers” insist upon riding inside the cart, “…so you can pile all the stuff on top of us, Mom, like we’re inside a little house! That’s so cool!” Naturally, there are people who find this disturbing—especially when they detect a hint of movement somewhere beneath the econo-sized Goldfish and the Lucky Charms.

“Do you know there are children in your cart?” they’ll ask, alarmed by the possibility that I could, in fact, be so clueless as to not notice a couple of stowaways on board.

“Yes. They’re with me, otherwise known as Dances with Carts.”

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (forever dodging those ankle-biting menaces in the grocery store). Visit me there at

Copyright 2009 Melinda L. Wentzel


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