The Squeaky Wheel

Have you ever felt like every single time you get a cart at a store it is the one that has a bad squeak?  Or maybe it has a severe flat spot on one of the wheels and it goes “bumpbumpbumpbumpbump” as you wander throughout the store.  I have on occasion, found a cart that did not show any of the usual negative tendencies and gotten it half filled before it started protesting with a shrill whine and a propensity to veer off to the right.  It was not unlike trying to break a wild pony.  (Not that I have ever attempted this in any way, outside of my imagination).  It had a mind of its own and obviously it had no intention of giving up without a fight.  I would wrestle it past other shoppers who were looking on in horror trying to cover their kids’ ears until I was out of earshot.  I’m still not sure what they were concerned about, a little screeching wheel isn’t going to ruin their hearing…

I had always been convinced that every store has only one or two of these carts and I inexplicably would always end up with one of them.  If I grabbed for a cart as someone walked up and I let them have the first one, the second one in line, (mine) was always the “bad” one, but if I acted like I hadn’t seen the person and try to prove it by running over their foot, the one I had kept was the “bad” one.  I couldn’t win.

My theory has changed somewhat over the years however and I now think that many of the carts are bad.  What first clued me in, was when I was shopping one day, I stopped briefly at a display, trying to decide if I should purchase the american or cheddar cheese whiz, when over my shoulder, I heard the familiar sound of my cart squeaking away.  Someone was stealing my cart!  I whirled around and while trying to threaten the thief with a can of cheddar cheese whiz, I accidentally discharged half of it into his face.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered that it wasn’t my cart after all just another one that squeaked.  Apparently his surprise was somewhat more intense than mine.  I was, however; able to diffuse a terrible altercation before it started, namely, by grabbing my cart, and running away as fast as possible.  I could hear him gaining on me as we sped through the dairy section and I couldn’t understand how he knew exactly where I was, since I was sure the cheese must be blurring his vision, but then it occurred to me that he was merely chasing the sounds of my cart.  I decided to ditch the cart and continue on foot.  As I ducked into the next isle, I heard the sound of his cart slowing behind me.  He was trying to key in on my location but my cart could not betray me now.  I did notice one thing though as I was making my somewhat hurried exit, I heard a lot of carts making squeaking noises and would glance nervously in their direction to see, not my would-be assassin, but only little old ladies with carts full of groceries.  This convinced me that there are in fact many “bad” carts in circulation.

I have learned from a shopping cart expert, (those guys that push carts into the store after we deposit them in the holding cells in the parking lot) that there are a lot of carts that squeak and need repair.  “How many? Would you say?” I asked one such person whose name was Charles, his reply: “Oh, I dunno, a lot”  So I have come to the conclusion that I’m not the only one dealing with this and maybe you are one of those people who thinks that God is somehow punishing you by always giving you these unruly carts.  I just want you to know you are not alone.  They say that “misery loves company” so hopefully just knowing that many others are struggling with this same problem, can bring healing in some small way.