The employee who greeted me at the entrance had a very intrigued look upon her face. I mean honestly, who brings their own shopping cart to the grocery store?
Two things come to mind when you see a man walking down the street pushing a shopping cart full of empty grocery bags: he’s homeless (the most probable) or he’s about to hop on the back and begin racing down the sidewalk.
Only one of those was true in this situation.
I wanna go fast.
There was a smooth patch of pavement for the next 30 feet; I had to take advantage of this golden opportunity. The sidewalks in my neighborhood are less than perfect. If you happen to look down any street within a 15 block radius of my place it reminds me of the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland; a violent upheaval of dirt and rock that creates a treacherous path for Dr. Jones to escape the clutches of death after he snatches the priceless artifact.
Hopefully now you’ll understand my excitement.
I placed one foot on the bottom rack and used the other for propulsion. Push, push, glide. Push, push, glide. Holy shit this was amazing!
I have to confess though, this wasn’t the first time I’ve ghost riddin’ a cart. I just set a personal record last Wednesday at Costco when I road a cart all the way from the store exit to my car at the far end of the parking lot without letting my feet touch the ground.
No big deal, just a solid 100 feet or so.
That kind of accomplishment doesn’t come without practice. One tip for you aspiring cart riders: the leg you use to push can also be used to steer you like the rudder of a boat. Shifting it either left or right allows you to adjust your weight and guide your shopping cart without touching the ground. That one’s on me… you’re welcome.
Push, push, glide.
Unfortunately my cart riding escapade concluded as I crossed 13th Ave. This is where Indiana Jones would have to step in. At this point I was only 4 blocks from the first stop on my adventure.
I was going grocery shopping.
Some people bring their own bags, I brought my own cart.
The clock read 9:00 AM. I had just finished breakfast and decided today was the perfect day to restock the pantry.
For the middle of winter it was a gorgeous day outside. Right around 50 degrees and sunny with only a few patches of snow left on the ground from last week’s storm.
I usually just throw a backpack over my shoulder and head out to the store. It’s only 5 blocks away; why the hell should I drive?
The only issue was the amount of groceries I would be bringing back from the store. Typically I can fit the few items I purchase into my backpack. That wasn’t going to cut it this time.
Damnit. I’ll just default to driving the car. But I hate driving on the weekends. I’m stuck in an hour long commute each weekday and it really, really blows ass.
Think for a minute…
I would just borrow a shopping cart from the Office Depot next door. People in my building use them all of the time to bring groceries up to their apartments from the parking garage. I was just gonna go a little farther than the parking garage this time.
I was entering a new frontier.
I’ve never taken my own shopping cart past 13th Ave. Well, I’ve never really taken one out of the parking garage, so I guess this whole adventure was in uncharted territory.
The massive cracks and uneven pavement made navigating this small wheeled cart a pain in the ass. I’m assuming the inventors never anticipated their creation being used outside the realm of smooth, regularly waxed grocery store aisles.
Product development doesn’t typically take the homeless demographic into consideration.
Every step was a different jarring motion. Anytime I approached another person I made sure to tighten my grip. The last thing I wanted to do was jam the blunt corner of my cart into the kidneys of a stranger. I imagined them explaining the situation to their husband or wife:
“Honey! Why is there blood in the toilet? Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’ll be fine. Just pissing a little blood because some asshole plowed into me
with a shopping cart while I was walking down the street. I didn’t want to berate
him too bad, he was probably homeless.”
Aside from the constant turbulence, the obnoxious clanking noise of metal hitting metal was enough to wake up the whole block. It sounded as if I was riding a jack hammer like a pogo stick down the sidewalk. I’m glad I didn’t leave any earlier in the morning or the police might have cited me for disturbing the peace. At least the small dog I passed was intrigued by the sound my cart was making. He was probably the only one.
I forged ahead.
As I closed in on my destination, the store in sight, I glanced over to my right and spotted some interesting graffiti. Written very nicely in a maroon colored lipstick was the word “Herpes.”
I was thinking I’d come back tomorrow and see if the masterpiece was still here. If so, I was going to contact Revlon and let them know their Color Stay lipstick lasts longer than the reported 16 hours. I’m sure that kind of information could be worth a little money. Granted, they probably won’t change their marketing campaign from images of beautiful women to urban graffiti that reads “Herpes.”
But it could be worth an email.
Enough loitering, I was getting hungry and I wanted to see what delicious samples the market had on display.
I needed a spot to park.
Lucky for me parking spaces for shopping carts aren’t regulated by any sort of governing body. That means I can park wherever the hell I want. What a wonderful change from the norm.
I figured I could use the smaller carts inside and transfer my load once I exited. I decided it would be better to leave the cart outside. I thought about locking it up to the bike rack. After all, this was a non-motorized form of transportation.
As I searched for an unused portion of the bike rack, I found myself wondering why I was more worried about securing this shopping cart than I am securing my own car. I rarely even lock my doors, yet here I was concerned about grocery cart theft.
I realized shortly thereafter that I didn’t even have a lock, so this whole operation quickly became irrelevant. The open spot next to a baby blue scooter would work just fine. I parked the cart and began walking toward the entrance when something stopped me; I needed documentation.
Luckily I planned ahead, bringing my camera and tripod. The one thing I forgot was the piece that attaches the camera to the tripod… shit. I could just gingerly set it on top. I was going to snap some picture regardless, so I figured I would make this extremely awkward for everyone trying to shop today and place my tripod right in the middle of the parking lot; it was the only way to get the shot I wanted.
Upon placing the camera atop the three legged stand I realized there needed to be absolutely no movement of the camera between the time I hit the button and when I took off running back to my cart.
I set the timer then ever so slightly pressed the shutter release button… I had 10 seconds.
I barely missed kicking the right leg of the tripod as I frantically sprinted toward the cart.
The sudden rush of adrenaline blinded my decision making, and apparently my vision. I came inches away from having my legs snapped in half by a 3500 lb luxury sedan. An Audi A4 was pulling into the lot at the exact moment I took off toward my cart like an idiot. I would have liked to have seen the police report on that one.
I finished my apologetic wave to the driver, then started moving on my previous bearing; making sure to look both ways. I was now only inches away from my shopping cart.
Upon reaching the cart I placed my hands on the side, frozen with bewilderment. How the hell was I going to get into this thing? There wasn’t time to think, so I hopped in like I was hopping a fence while running from the cops after they bust a high school party.
I was finally in; tightly stuffed into a plastic box on wheels… fuck, I forgot about the wheels. My less than gentle entry had jarred the cart loose of its secure position next to the baby blue scooter. I was slowly turning in the direction of the street; a downward slope increased my speed as I headed for oncoming traffic. It was Indiana Jones all over again, but not in the fun way. I was in the mine cart racing through lava filled tunnels unaware of the impending doom that awaited me at the end of the tracks.
The sound of the camera’s shutter echoed through the parking lot. So did the thud of my shopping cart hitting the pavement as I was thrown overboard.
During the course of my 15 foot downhill ride toward the street the expression on my face was stuck in stun mode. I looked like a deer in headlights. I finally reacted to the situation and decided it would be best to try and climb out one leg at a time; not a wise choice.
The cart began to tip. My feeble attempt to regain balance was short lived as the cart came crashing down onto the asphalt.
So, there I was, lying in the middle of the parking lot next to a bright red shopping cart. Embarrassment was the first emotion to surface quickly followed by amusement. I began laughing uncontrollably at myself for being a complete moron.
Sometimes you just need an extra hand.
It wasn’t long before someone noticed the lunatic laughing on the ground.
“Are you okay?” the stranger asked.
“Yeah, I’ll be fun, but what would you give the landing?” I replied.
“Haha, it was entertaining but not very graceful, so I’ll say a 6.”
Not bad, I thought to myself. I regained my composure, dusted off my pants and lifted the cart upright.
“What were you trying to do?”
“I was trying to get a picture of me in the cart, but things kind of went awry.”
“Do you need a hand?”
“Actually, that would be great.”
The gentleman helped me secure the cart in the intended position and then we walked over to my camera. Turns out that click I heard wasn’t my camera going off. Probably just a small rock I hit with the wheel of my cart. Damnit. That was going to be such a great shot of my blunder.
I readjusted the camera and instructed my new friend Dave on when to take the shot.
Fortunately for both of us this round went much smoother. I packed up my camera and tripod, thanked Dave for his help and finally headed toward the entrance to start my grocery shopping.
I stood out like a sore thumb; a big red one.
I was going to leave my cart outside, but figured it would be best to just bring it in with me. Given the recent incident I didn’t want it to take off down the street.
The double doors slid open. I pushed the cart over the threshold then pulled out my grocery list. I was so consumed with examining my handwritten checklist that I didn’t notice the countless number of eyes that had fixated on me.
After all, this was Whole Foods. I didn’t exactly fit in to begin with. This particular store was rather small and they didn’t have normal size shopping carts. My big ass red cart was an anomaly in these parts.
I marched on anyway.
Within 10 seconds I found it hard to navigate. The turning radius on that behemoth I was pushing around caused me to knock a few items off the shelves and almost take out a display at the end of the isle. Nonetheless it did its job; carrying groceries.
One employee was noticeably befuddled. I chuckled and kept on going.
The biggest perk of having the sole red cart in the entire grocery store is that I could always find it if I took off to grab an item from another area. I assure you no one is going to mistake it for their cart either.
My work was done. It was time to check out and be on my way home.
The cashier began swiping my items through her register. Then, mid ring-up she asked me,
“Did you get the shot?”
My reply was silent as I began to rummage through my brain looking for the proper response. Were they giving out free flu shots with each half gallon milk purchase? The perplexed look on my face conveyed my confusion and provoked her to ask again.
“Did you get your shot? I saw you out there with your camera.”
“OOhhh, yeah, yeah I got my shot. Turned out perfect.”
I paid for the groceries and pushed big red toward the exit.
The walk home was much of the same that I encountered on my way there; perplexed looks, graffiti and abnormally jagged sidewalks.
I let out a sigh of relief as I walked through my front door. Despite my cuts and scrapes, dirty pants and partially deflated self confidence, I smiled with groceries in hand.
It’s nice to have a reminder that each day presents me with an opportunity to enjoy the journey. Even if it means making out with a parking lot.