The Star-Herald

Courting cart catastrophe for comedy

The turkey is soaking in its hot tub. Rolls, rising on the back of the counter. Uncle Bill, warming up his storytelling skills with tales of the summer he discovered mud. Holiday season is now here and it is prime shopping time. A brief refresher on the rules of using shopping carts is in order.

For cheap entertainment, going to Walmart and watching the cart wrestling championship contest can’t be beat. Walmart sits on a slope. Simple physics applies here. An inclined plane induces mechanical devices to move. Water flows downhill. When combined the result is a device that car owners and pedestrians can appreciate. Take a shopping cart to the top of the slope, and it will naturally seek out the lowest point and take off.

To counter this effect there are several cart corrals that one can use when finished with unloading the cart. Part your cart in an appropriate space.

On this theme, the image of inconsiderate shoppers grows during this season. Loaded with loot from the magic cave of Walmart, shoppers cart the items to their cars. They heap bag after bag into the trunk, slam lids and doors and start engines. The shopping cart is left alone. Very alone.  A loose lonely cart is a dangerous beast. It can be fearful and heedless. WIthout a brain it has no head, though on the slope it can act like it has a head of steam as it heads back to the warmth of the store. Always amusing to see a cart take out a brand new paint job on that Dodge Turbo diesel with the fancy price tag.

Cart wranglers spend their days on the cold, windy mesa roping and wrestling these metal cages. A small motor unit helps them to push 50 or more carts in a line. They wander throughout the lot picking up carts left in the middle of a parking space, perched precariously on top of the hill or stranded on a parking berm. Connecting the carts and the pusher takes skill. Long, snaking lines of the critters are sent down to the shelter of the entrance. There they are parked in a proper stall and shoppers can take their pick. They are now out of the way and away from the temptation to make out with your brand new car.

Curses to the lazy shopper who can’t park his cart.

When choosing a cart, there are some basic things to remember. These beasts will eat anything and anyone. Like a gift horse, it is always wise to check the teeth and mouth. When taking a new cart, be sure to lift up on the tongue. This keeps the cart from dragging his best buddy with him. The tongue is also where the kid seat can be found. Drop it down and the seat will pop open. There are seat belts and they should be used. Best to get a sterile wipe and wipe down the handles and seats if worried about germs.

Once you select the cart, charge into the store screaming like a banshee and riding on the cross bar. This lets the store staff know that you are coming and also allows you to scare the skin off the dear darling grandma out to get her shopping. She needs the excitement. Points are scored for the number of boxes knocked off the shelf. The elves can clean up in aisle five.

Enjoy your shopping experience — and please, properly park your cart.

Orpheus Allison is a photojournalist living in The County who graduated from UMPI and earned a master of liberal arts degree from the University of North Carolina. He began his journalism career at WAGM television later working in many different areas of the US. After 20 years of television he changed careers and taught in China and Korea.

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