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Dude, Where’s My Cart?

 I’m having an identity crisis. But it’s not what you’re thinking. I’m not unhappy with my career, my husband isn’t leaving me and I’m not changing my hair color. I can even live with my cellulite. It’s just that I can’t find my shopping cart.

Today, I went grocery shopping. I started in the produce section, automatically loading my cart with bananas and lettuce. Then I hit the meat department and mindlessly grabbed a family-size pack of hamburger.

By the time I was at the dairy case, I was on autopilot, stashing gallon jugs of 2-percent milk into the bottom of my overflowing cart. I checked my list, but I hardly had to. I buy the same thing every week.

But today was different. There was a special on juice boxes and I abandoned my cart to investigate. I picked up three (limit four per family) cubes of kiwi cranberry and suddenly it hit me.

I was lost. Like the time in the parking garage when I couldn’t find my car. My cart was missing, or at least I couldn’t recognize which groceries were mine.

I scanned the supermarket horizon. My heart was pounding. Then I saw a lone silver cart gleaming in the fluorescent light. As I got closer I spied Kashi Go Lean, nonfat organic yogurt and broccoli florets.





"By the time I was at the dairy case, I was on autopilot, stashing gallon jugs of 2-percent milk into the bottom of my overflowing cart."
“Ah ha!” I said to myself, “That’s me, that’s my cart.”

But as I went to claim my groceries, a soft voice said, “Excuse me, ma’am, I think that’s my cart.”

She was young. She was slim. She had edgy little eye glasses and a skimpy Green Day T-shirt.

“Darn,” I thought. “Of course, that could never be my cart.”

I looked around again. “Oh, there it is,” I thought dejectedly. I saw telltale loaves of puffy white bread and bags of marshmallows spilling formlessly from a cart shoved into the dark recesses of the bakery department. Resigned, I went to retrieve my monochromatic load.

“Hey, little lady, I think that’s my cart you’ve got there.”

He was big and bearded and wore a black Harley-Davidson T-shirt. As he wheeled off with the Wonder Bread, I thought, “Phew! How could I have thought his groceries were mine?”

I started to panic. Muzak was pounding in my brain. I got goose bumps. Maybe it was from wandering up and down the frozen-food section, or maybe it was that I suddenly felt really lost.



So now, here I am having a supermarket identity crisis. I’m wandering between the tofu and the Trix. In an act of desperation, I pull the crumpled grocery list from my purse. I can hardly read my own handwriting. The scribbles say something about loops and dogs and pops and tarts. Where the heck is my cart?

“Mommmmmmmmmm! Can we leave now?” Oh, yeah. My cart is the one with the 11-year-old boy hanging off it like a chimpanzee. The groceries kind of look like everybody else’s, but the kid looks just like mine.

By the time I was at the dairy case, I was on autopilot, stashing gallon jugs of 2-percent milk into the bottom of my overflowing cart.


Carol Band looks to the heavens – for UFOs and for guidance. Write to her at band_carol@hotmail.com. Check out our complete archive of Carol’s Household Word columns.

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