I have an irrational aversion to shopping carts. This is probably because at the East Brunswick Shop Rite, I always got the shopping cart with one bad wheel that made the whole thing zigzag off course and bang into things. This is probably also because I try to convince myself that I am only going to pick up "a few things." So, the result is that I stubbornly use a shopping basket no matter what I am buying. I remain convinced that I will fit everything into this shopping basket if it's the last thing I do. I respond to all inquiries of, "Ma'am, would you like a cart," with a brisk, "No thank you!" just as I respond to the, "Can I help you?"'s I inspire in the baking aisle when I am squinting at the labels and comparing prices per ounce. My spatial concepts have paid off in that I have found ways to pack a cart's worth of groceries quite efficiently into a basket.
The problem, of course, is that so many groceries makes the basket quite heavy. Until I get big buff muscle-y arms from hauling all those shopping baskets around, I usually just huff and puff through the last aisles of the store and then, if the line is long, plop my basket on the floor and push it forward with my toe every time the line moves.
One evening in the recent past, I stopped at Whole Foods planning to buy firewood, onions, and sugar for baking, as I was running dangerously low on that last item. The firewood is situated outside of the store near the entrance, so I picked up a bundle on my way in, and then I picked up a shopping basket. Since I was only planning to pick up three things, I didn't see the need to get a cart for that firewood. However, the firewood bundle's rope handle, not designed for carriage all over the store, cut into my fingers painfully while I was calculating the price difference between single onions and a 3-lb. bag and making a vain search for non-organic onions. Determined, however, I persisted in carrying the firewood, now with a shopping basket and a 3-lb. bag of onions, to the baking aisle.
It was here, when I later told the story, that my boyfriend interrupted with, "Wait! You carried the firewood through the store? You do realize you can just tell the cashier to add it to your total and pick it up on the way out. Don't you?" (I did not. But now I do!)
In the baking aisle, so pleased was I with the variety of sugar available in the store brand, I bought two bags of two different kinds of raw cane sugar. It was also in the baking aisle that I decided to put the firewood in the basket. It just fit, but now I couldn't get the handles of the basket to stand up. The firewood rested in the basket at an angle, with the bag of onions taking up the rest of the basket's floor. The bags of sugar rested on top of the onions, accompanied by a jar of honey I impulse-bought because I had saved so much on sugar and I really liked the jar. I could pick up and carry the basket, hugging it to my chest, with no trouble at all. Fortunately, the baking aisle at Whole Foods is not very far from the checkout lanes and therefore I did not have far to carry the basket.
At the register, I rested the edge of the basket on the conveyor belt as I unloaded the sugar and honey. Then, with one hand holding the basket in place, I endeavored to remove the bundle of firewood from the basket. Resistance met me, about three extra pounds of resistance. The net bag of the onions had caught on a splinter of firewood and then dangled and become entangled. I now attempted to shift my weight, to hold the basket in place with my hip so that I could have both hands free to separate the firewood and the bag of onions. However, when I tried to move, I found myself stuck. I looked down at my coat and then at the firewood, and then back and forth a few times, confused. My coat was not stuck to the firewood! It took me a moment to figure out that my coat had somehow gotten stuck to the basket, just as the onions were stuck to the firewood, probably a consequence of carrying the basket so close to my person in my walk from the baking aisle to the checkout lane. After some twisting around, I managed to free myself, the basket, and my groceries, although to those occupants of Whole Foods not standing near me it looked like I was wildly flailing around. Fortunately, the Whole Foods was not crowded and there were very few witnesses to this incident.
Maybe this would have been avoided had I just gotten a cart, but not even this will make me be unfaithful to my true friend, the grocery shopping basket.