Shopping Cart Etiquette

Sometimes, you just have to take a stand. A firm one. And lock your jaws on a problem’s main artery until you render the issue lifeless or at least debilitated.

shopping cart
I grocery shop and enjoy heaping the cart with bargains and sustenance for my family. I’m quick and efficient while pushing my Ferrari (in my head) around the store’s hairpin turns and slick straightaways. I’m polite and safety conscious when passing farm tractors (anyone moving slower than me) or stalled shopping vehicles. I also help frail, elderly ladies or men reach items from an upper shelf because their posture no longer supports nimbleness and flexibility.

On the other hand, I loathe a certain type of shopper. You’ve met this individual – the person who drives his or her cart down the middle of the aisle, making it impossible to pass on either side. These thoughtless drivers also park in the aisle’s middle while they abandon their grocery cart to check the fine print on a can of lima beans, decipher the expiration date on a package of bagels or compare the price per ounce of two small jars of dill pickles versus a larger one.

These villains pose a major threat to law-abiding consumers like me who follow proper etiquette in the grocery store. I still remember the day I pinched a nerve in my left shoulder trying to maneuver around one of these lane violators. My cart and I had been attempting for approximately 17 minutes to pass a shopper straddling the aisle’s center. I loudly cleared my throat several times. Nothing! No acknowledgement, no compromise.

But I remained patient because I’m civilized. Then, for a brief moment, she drifted to the right and my dormant fury took over, as I lunged my cart forward and attempted to pass her on the left. I knew it was going to be close. I made it about halfway past when she suddenly veered back to the middle, cutting me off and sending my cart into a Froot Loops display. If it had been a large pyramid stack of cling peaches cans, I’d probably be pecking each word of this blog on my computer’s keyboard with a stylus in my mouth.

Luckily, my shoulder injury healed in several months. And on that fateful day, thank God there were no kids in that same row, playing with and squeezing the Lucky Charms boxes. I feel faint thinking about the awful mess of youthful humanity mangled between my wheels.  

Most lane wanderers flaunt the lack of law in grocery stores. I fantasize about running their carts off a Rocky Mountain cliff and enjoying the sight of them crashing into the canyon below. In my daydreams, I can hear my own laughter echo off the canyon walls as the black, smoldering fireball rises and inflames my congested nostrils.

So, can anything be done about these shopping delinquents? We can’t ban them from the stores, thanks to do-gooders like the ACLU. Well, I’ve got a few ideas.

1. Paint a solid, yellow line down all grocery store aisles, leaving a small section of the line broken to allow for passing, but only in aisles stocked with soft packaged goods.

2. Every 20 feet, place jagged, steel grates like the ones at car rental lot entrances, so shoppers can’t back up with their carts.  Going in reverse is hazardous and rude.

3. Post signs in the fresh produce avocado section with “$200 fines for loitering.” Frequent cart jams occur near this popular fruit (yes, I conduct extensive research for this blog and discovered the avocado is not a vegetable).

4. Equip all carts with warning signs, “No riders over 40 pounds.” I hate big kids who ride in carts.

5. Imbed U.S. marshals from homeland security into the grocery store environment to enforce these new rules.

6. Start a squad of volunteer shoppers who pass out discount coupons to respectful consumers who follow proper etiquette. We should reward good role models.

7. Establish a mentor program for shopping cart punks and violators. I’m all about rehabilitation.

(next post: Evil Monkeys and Other Phobias)