May 9, 2012
The Case of the Missing Cart
I hate grocery shopping. It annoys me. And here's the weird thing: I'm pretty darn good at meal-planning, saving money and still eating good food. But I don't like doing any of it. I could probably do a whole post on that alone.
So anyway. I was grocery shopping alone at Wal-Mart one evening. It was probably around 7pm, so there were still quite a few people milling about (one of my students is working for Target Corporate next year and she informed me that the busiest shopping time during the day is 5-7pm. Go figure). Anyway, I had made it through about five aisles and was trying to decide what type of laundry detergent I wanted (they're all so expensive! And I can't tell a difference between any of them!) and I glanced into my cart.
Why did I grab paper plates? We don't need any of those.
Ew, Crystal Light? Vienna Weenies??? Is this some sort of prank?
Wait... THIS IS NOT MY SHOPPING CART.
My purse is not on my arm. Oh my God. My purse was in my cart. Whose bloody cart is this? And where is my purse???
Utter panic set in. Yeah sure, it was annoying that I would have to start my shopping list over. But my purse... that was a whole different matter. As I pushed the mystery cart frantically through every single aisle of the food section looking for the cart-snatcher, my mind starting wandering to how much work it would be to get all my credit cards cancelled. And get a new driver's license. And my phone! I hadn't wanted that thing because it was too expensive and now I had gone and lost it. Blerg.
I tried to play it cool by pushing the mystery cart through each aisle at an old-people-speed-walking-in-the-mall pace, peering into everyone's cart, looking for the familiar bag of carrots and tub of sour cream, while everyone eyed me suspiciously.
Then I freaked out, ditched that blasted cart and started jogging through the aisles. Had someone run off with my purse, and used my credit card to pay for the bacon and Ben & Jerry's in my cart that we so desperately needed?
I turned into the juice aisle and saw two Wal-Mart officials (blue shirts, khaki pants, walkie-talkies, no guns) walking purposely down the aisle. One of them eyed me, saw my desperation and said,
"mam, did you lose your cart?"
"YES! I mean, yes, yes I did. Do you know where it is?"
"Someone turned it in up front."
"Thank you, thank you!"
I booked it to the customer service desk to find a few more people with walkie-talkies, talking about the scandalous "cart situation." I'm guessing shopping cart theft isn't a regular occurrence, so everyone seemed to be interested in the hoopla. Amidst the drama sat a sweet 80ish-year-old lady.
"I uh, heard you found a misplaced cart?" I said. "Is there a purse in it?"
"There is." said the 'I-take-my-job-very-seriously-Wal-Mart-employee . "Can you please tell me what the purse looks like along with your name and address?"
I told her, literally praising God that my purse was still in my cart. The Wal-Mart lady gave it back to me and informed me that the sweet old lady sitting on the bench had brought it in, after realizing that it was not her cart.
I approached her, tears running down my face and thanked her from the bottom of my heart... Or something like that.
"I'm glad you got your cart back" she said. "Do you know where my cart is?"
"Um... I uh, no, I don't know. I, uh, just started looking for my cart when I realized it was missing." I freaking lied to this sweet old lady. I just couldn't bring myself to tell her, "I,uh, ditched your cart full of groceries because I was too worried about my own dang cart."
She looked at me, crestfallen, and said, "Oh how awful. I had almost completed my grocery list and now I'll have to start over. My back is really starting to hurt, but my husband is waiting on me at home so I had better get to work." Yes, she actually said that. And yes, she literally looked like she was about to cry.
I felt AWFUL. Like a terrible person. But I had already lied. And honestly, she probably knew that. Which was probably why she was laying it on thick. So I offered to help her look for her cart, thinking all the while that there was no way her half-full cart was still hanging around.
So we set off through the food aisles of Wal-Mart, her literally looking like she was about to cry. Eventually we stumbled across the dynamic duo of "officials" who had originally told me that my cart had been found. They were just hanging out with sweet-old-lady's cart and when they spotted me they asked "isn't this the cart you ditched earlier?"
Oh, the shame.
"Thank you so much! We are so glad you found it! See you later sweet-old-lady!" I mumbled and ran off.
And that story is the reason that I never put my purse in my shopping cart.