How many of you have pulled out a shopping cart, noticed that someone left a plastic bag or a newspaper advertisement or some other innocuous piece of debris in the cart, pushed the cart into the foyer and grabbed another one? You! Yeah, you. I’m looking at you because I’ve seen you do it. You know who you are.
So, this afternoon I’m going to be in and out. Fast. No browsing. I have my list and I plan to use it. Ten minutes, max.
I entered Kroger’s through the automatic doors that always remind me of the Starship Enterprise. Sometimes I think “Scotty, status report!” Sometimes aloud.
“Mommy, that man is talking to himself.”
“Don’t stare, sweetie, maybe he has one of those cell phone ear things.” Or maybe not, Mommy’s thinking.
The cart with a waded up, empty, vegetable bag was out in the open. Two people in front of me saw the cart, saw the bag and selected another cart. What’s the big deal, I thought, it’s only a bag and like the fool I am, I decided to take the cart and “show them all.”
I was cruising along through the bread section when it happened. The front right wheel pivoted and locked. The cart suddenly veered to the right and I crashed into the bagel table. Several people stopped to stare. Surprised but undaunted, I backed the cart out, picked up the packages of bagels I had knocked off the table and hustled off to the vegetable section.
Along the way the cart locked and veered two or three more times. I hit the salad bar and a little kid who I admonished for "getting in my way."
Ah, so. Haunted cart. Just my luck.
Moving through the fruits and vegetables the cart began to lock up and veer more frequently. I found that I had to push hard with my right hand while pulling hard with my left hand just to keep a nearly straight line.
I began to berate the cart for bad behavior.
Ordinarily, muttering (actually more like snarling and threatening) to oneself in a supermarket will get one noticed at the least. Coupled with erratic movements, lurching, crashing into displays and more lurching turns out to be magical.
People get out of your way.
As I picked up my final item and lurched towards the check-out line my arms were tired, I was sweating profusely, I was snarling much more loudly and I had developed a particular gait that enabled me to keep the cart on more or less a straight path if I thrust out my right leg and hopped twice with my left.
There I was snarling, sweating, thrusting, hopping and don’t forget lurching, my goal in sight: check-out line number 3.
I heard a little voice behind me.
“Mommy, that man is walking funny.”
Mommy bent down to her daughter and said, “Sweetie pie, some people have to learn to cope with disabilities beyond their control. But, look, doesn’t he push his cart well!”