The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Objects: #1—the Shopping Cart

By Andrew Tibbetts
"Most people cannot appreciate the beauty of shopping carts," Bubbles, of Sunnyvale Trailor Park

I love shopping carts. There's nothing like pulling one out of the ass-end of another from the queue at the entrance of the grocery store. When it comes out nice and smooth and the wheels aren't all that wobbly, it's the beginning of a perfect feeling. Wandering the aisles, picking everything off of the shelf that you want, putting it into your cart—heaven! For us greedy, grasping westerners, a cart can contain and protect your bounty. You push it along, parading your good fortune. You might bump into somebody pushing their cart along. There's nothing better in the modern world than a conversation in a grocery store aisle where you are both leaning on the handles of your carts—the western world at its most convivial, mid-consumption socialization.

Some grocery stores make you put a quarter in the queue which you receive when you return your cart. This is because people do actually take them. And they are expensive. More expensive than a quarter.

I think it's a hallmark of suburbia: an overturned shopping cart beside a concrete culvert.

I don't see too many shopping carts in the city. Only on TV shows about cities. Urban grocery shoppers are much more likely to use the handheld baskets to put their groceries in. We shop like Europeans. Daily. In the suburbs people go and get a week or two's worth of stuff. In their homes they have 'deep freezers'. "Put it in the deep freeze" being the thirteenth most common thing to say in suburban Canada, right after "Stop friggin’ hoggin’ the remote, Buttface," and just before "Don't tell anybody about grandpa touching you".

Some people use their shopping carts to take stuff from the store to their car trunks. Other people, once the groceries are in the bags, prefer to carry the bags, many per hand. If your groceries are heavy the plastic handles will cut into your hand and you will rush a bit to get to your car trunk. And the blessed relief when you drop the bags into the truck. Oh, it’s good to be living here and now. Wiggle your hands. Think of dinner coming soon.

Kids love to sit in shopping carts. Shopping carts come with seatbelts now. Even today, long after mothers have gone back to work and kids are in daycare. These seatbelts are the vestiges of days when women were encouraged to be unemployed and in charge of their own children and doing the shopping. These women would take their very own children, just the one!, to the store with them, sometimes during weekday daylight hours! IT’S TRUE! Strapping the child into the cart would be one of the best parts of the day for them, because the child could no longer move or run. The mother is free to walk where she likes. (Sitting in the car with the child buckled into the car seat is the only better thing, because there, they are less likely to scream about what they want you to buy.)

Older children, like teenagers, and professional adolescents in their thirties (reality tv stars such as SteveO and Johnny Knoxville, or rock stars) like to ride inside shopping cars where they are not strapped in. Preferably downhill. Fun! Dangerous! Punch your hands in the air. Feel the whoosh. Think of how you and your friends will laugh about this forever if you aren’t killed.

In other parts of the world people die of starvation. Maybe in other parts of your town. Beside the rusty old shopping carts. On your way out, toss a can or two in the foodbank thingy. Consider changing the world.

Do you have any shopping cart stories?


Blogger Chumplet said...

Well, I was gonna say I strap my purse in those handy dandy seatbelt thingies until you mentioned the foodbank.

I designed a full page ad for our local food bank with fall leaves and blue sky, along with suggestions on what to put in your free paper bag that will be enclosed in next week's paper.

I even put a cool little picture of a shopping cart at the bottom.

Donate, everyone!

Sat Sep 27, 11:46:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Darby said...

Thing I remember is reading at the end of SK's Misery, the thing that knocked his writer's block out of him was he saw a kid running down the street pushing a shopping cart with a skunk in it.

Mon Sep 29, 03:07:00 am GMT-4  

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