Thursday, July 9, 2015

A Pack of Parental Lies... Societal Norms for Shopping Cart Use.

Below is a list of things my parents told me that are a complete pack of lies:
  • It takes 7 years to digest gum if you swallow it.
  • You were ‘Made in China.’  (My dad told me he took the little sticker off me when they got me home.)
  • You will drown if you swim sooner than an hour after eating.
  • Watermelons will grow in your stomach if you swallow the seeds. (Apparently I ate a lot of things I shouldn’t.)
  • Taking 4 years of high school German is a great idea.
  • Drinking coffee or whisky will put hair on your chest.  (Oddly, my dad always made that sound like a good thing.)
I’m not saying that I don’t tell my own children wild tales such as these, but I’m selective.  I realize that these parental fabrications create a ripple effect into adolescence and adulthood. 

This brings us to the topic of today’s post:  The societal norm of staying with your shopping cart: Is it a helpful, imaginary tether or a set of social handcuffs designed to keep us in stores longer?

 This is how I feel about the way most people use shopping carts!

My mom always taught me not to walk away from a shopping cart.  Much like a campy horror film, bad things happen when people strayed too far.  Her main scare tactic:  Someone would steal her purse if I didn't stay near the cart to watch it.  As we entered a store my mom would  ask me to choose a cart (don’t pick one that pulls to the left or has a squeaky wheel) and immediately set her purse on the little fold out child seat.  Then I, small Naty, would vigilantly stand guard. While I appreciate my mom wanting her small child to stand guard over her purse, it led me to the false conclusion that as an adult shopper, I had to be completely tethered to my cart. 

I vividly remember the day it dawned on me that rather than having my purse in the front of the cart, I could (unlike my my mom's example) simply keep my purse on my shoulder… like I always do when I’m walking around in public. 

I’m not sure why it took me several years of adulthood to make that intellectual leap.  As soon as I realized I could wear my purse while grocery shopping, I felt like a new woman. I was finally free of the shackles that only existed in my mind.

This opened the floodgate of thoughts that completely revolutionized my cart shopping techniques! 

Shopping Cart Revolution!

The video above shows my clear belief that there is a better way to manage shopping carts than our antiquated cart-to-person tether technique.  I could spend 5,000 words giving a detailed explanation of my technique, but I'm sure no one would read it.  I’ll keep it short.

Use the Pull & Park Technique

Pulling your cart makes it easier to turn and saves time by keeping you in front of the action.

Naty’s Shopping Cart Strategy:
  • Limit your cart’s path to only the main, wide aisles.  Never take it down numbered aisle.
  • Always point your cart in the direction you are headed. 
  • Park your cart at the end of any given aisle you need to access. 
  • Walk down the aisle (without your cart) and gather the things you need.
  • Move quickly.
  • Return to your cart & drop your items into your cart. 
  • Keep moving.
My Assertions:
  • This is much faster for the average person.
  • This cuts down on the traffic in the aisles making it easier for everyone. 

Here is irrefutable video evidence that my technique works…

Huge ‘minivan’ carts with kids falling out all over the place really clog the aisles.  Watch me pop right out of the crowd with what I need!

Carts double wide blocking the aisle?  No problem for Naty!

Please forgive the dodgy quality of the videos above, my cameraperson was pretty freaked out about getting caught shooting video in Target.  Every time an employee got within 15 feet of her, she dropped me out of the frame to hide the phone.  She must have parents who peddled lies about the jurisdiction and unfettered power to destroy lives bestowed upon Target employees.  I kept reminding her that they would assume she was texting or watching a video and at the very worst ask, we would be asked to leave.  She disagreed... total ripple effect.

People are exempt from this technique:

  • People with small children who still ride in carts.  It’s a bad idea to leave your kid at the end of the aisle.   If my mom wouldn’t leave her purse unattended in the 80’s, you shouldn’t leave your kid now.
  • People who need the cart with them to aid balance or minimize walking.

Ways you can screw this up: 

  • Get stuck in an aisle too long, so your cart gets in the way of everyone else or those who need products on that end cap where you parked.  For my chattier readers, beware of neighbors and/or those who might recognize you due to the public nature of your job. 
  • Bad parking… just like in life, bad parking is unacceptable with a cart.
Because some people do need their carts near them, the rest of us should take one for the team and not clog the aisles. 

Change is Hard. :/

I know many of you reading this are very skeptical, if not down right disgruntled about my attempts to change America’s shopping habits.  Please, before you give way to your desire to adhere to the norm of shopping cart tethering, just remember this old adage often sad by parents about horrible foods: Don’t knock it, ‘til you try it.

I’ve tried to convince many of the people dearest to me to give my technique a try.  I've been meet with significant resistance from three particular friends.  I now officially challenge three of my most organized, precise, and rule-loving friends to break free of their societal handcuffs!  Rachael, Alli, Brieanne… It’s time to shop… Naty-style.

Terms of the Dare:

  • Go on a substantial (needing many items… enough where a cart is necessary) shopping trip to either Target or a grocery store. 
  • Follow my rules for cart use as listed above
  • Bring a friend to film your experience. 
  • Document your feelings about your experience in writing or on video.

Questions for my readers:
1.     What weird falsehoods did your parents teach you as a child?
2.     What do you think of my technique for shopping cart management?

As always, if you are having trouble posting comments from your mobile device, please click ‘view web version’ at the bottom of your screen and try again.  Thanks!  I love hearing what you have to say.


  1. Naty, the technique you promote for shopping cart management is something I've done in the past and it is more efficient for light-to-medium shopping. However, if you need more than 3 things in an aisle, it starts to become cumbersome to grab things off shelves and carry them back to your cart. Additionally, getting more than 1 item from an aisle increases the odds above 50% that you'll have to go more than 1/2 way down the aisle, which - while getting you more exercise - reduces the efficiency that you would have gotten by traversing the aisles in an "S" pattern with your cart in hand.
    Finally, it's fine for you and a minority of shoppers to use this technique, but it doesn't scale. If widely adopted, the main aisles of stores would be clogged by hordes of temporarily abandoned shopping carts. Happy shopping!

  2. "Your face will freeze like that!"

    Also, I don't mind abandoning my cart, but I agree with Dave's last point, so maybe let's not tell too many people that this method works....