The baffiling malevolence known as…shopping carts!


After missing a couple blogging opportunities this week due to, well frankly, a paucity of ideas, I thought I would finish off this week with a preview of next week’s theme, one which all of you can no doubt relate to:  shopping!

Today’s post was generated by a trip to Home Depot yesterday.  Shopping during the week is always fun because most everyone else is working so I not only get to shop in a reasonably uncrowded store, but there are terrific parking spots close to the doors available.

Yesterday was a prime example, with numerous first and second spots right by the exit doors.  Knowing that I was going to pick up a couple bulky and heavier items, I figured I would get a cart.  There happened to be one waiting right at the spot I pulled into; a sign of good fortune for sure.

Rolling the cart inside was problem-free; in fact, I thought I had especially lucked out in that the cart rolled smoothly and silently.  I was rounding past the barbecue/patio section, making a left turn when suddenly the cart yanked to the left, nearly colliding with an endcap display.  I looked carefully at the wheels and ground, rolled the cart back and forth but saw no object obstructing the cart.  Straightening the cart out, I moved forward down the aisle with no further difficulty.

As I perused the light bulb area to hopefully find a ceiling fan light of the new energy saver variety (sadly, none with that size base yet), the cart once again yanked away from me, to my horror heading violently at an entire display of light bulbs.  I was able to stave off that…shattering…experience with a titanic tug at the last moment.  It was then I knew that this was one of those “evil” carts; the type that clearly take pleasure in punishing and bedeviling the shoppers with the misfortune to have chosen them.

For the rest of the shopping trip, the cart fought me.  Not every time, of course, for that would be too predictable.  It tried to lull me into letting down my guard before a random yank or lunge at some person or display nearby.  This got me to thinking of all the different types of nefarious shopping carts there are in the world.  I thought I would catalog a few here.

The Wobbler

Not to be confused with its younger cousin, The Wiggler.  This particular brand of cart is certainly the most prolific, breeding in a way similar to rabbits (and if you don’t think shopping carts “breed”, you’ve obviously never tried to find a non-dysfunctional cart when shopping…after about five tries, you simply sigh and take what you get).

The most common way to recognize The Wobbler is through it’s directionally challenged front wheels.  As you move the cart in any direction, the wheels begin a confused dance, sometimes finishing in a pirouette.  The effect on your cart is a vibration, shake or steering issue.  In its more mature state (The Elder Wobbler), the cart can exhibit all of the previous characteristics.  These carts are ornery, perhaps a byproduct of their aged status, and have no reluctance to make your shopping trip a bit of the shake, rattle and roll.

The Loudmouth

This cart is proud of its defect and is not shy of letting you know.  Unlike The Wobbler, The Loudmouth takes pride in giving you a reasonably smooth driving experience.  In fact, there are few of this species that cause you any difficulty in steering or turning.  It laughs at such primitive methods of disruption.

The Loudmouth, as its name suggest, generates its fame through loud rattling or grating noises through totally indiscernible ways.  Though you seem to get a loud clacking noise at each turn of its wheels, you will never see a visible cause for the noise or an apparent obstruction in its frame.  There may be an ear-battering racket that comes from the cart basket, but you will not be able to quell the noise, even when the cart is weighed down by a nearly-full load of goods.  The Loudmouth can sometimes be temporarily quieted by rolling the cart with its front wheels in the air.  This method will no doubt elicit stares from your fellow shoppers (and perhaps glares from store personnel).  It is, at best, a short-term solution, rarely useful once your shopping has begun.

The Skulker

This is perhap the most insidious of the carts.  The cart appears benign as you begin your trip, often allowing as much as five or ten minutes to pass before demonstrating its aberrant personality in a multitude of surprising and dismaying ways.

Perhaps it will seize up, causing your cart to stop short and jam you in the midsection with the cart handle.  Maybe it will suddenly flop its wheel and pull to one side, fighting you for control with a mind of its own.  In a moderate case, it may simply develop a limp in its stride, like a pebble in its shoe, providing you with a mysterious bump every few paces.  No matter what the condition of its dysfunction, the key is that The Skulker will not let you know this immediately, lulling you into thinking you have a “good” cart.

The Tightlip

A mild case of cart dysfunction, The Tightlip is, in all other ways, a reasonably well-behaved cart.  Its only issue is its stubbornness to open the little basket “seat” area — that part of the basket that angles out to allow you to sit your child or store mushable items (bread, eggs, etc.)  No one knows why The Tightlip behaves this way, but cart psychologists have proposed a complex theory about its formative years in the factory, perhaps bullied by the elder carts.


These are but a few of the dysfunctional carts engaged in a never-ending battle with us as we try to complete our shopping quests.  I’m sure you’ve come across your own personal “nemesis” in your adventures.  I invite and encourage you to leave mention of those dysfunctional carts below, so as to warn and protect others who have yet to face that terrible foe.

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