The Shopping Shuffle

CartMy wife cannot enter a store without grabbing a cart. It doesn’t matter what kind of store it is or what she came for.  If there is a cart handy, she will grab it.

She once asked for a cart at Tires Plus.

When I ask why she does this, she says, “Because we might need something.”

You have to think about that a little.

She is not saying we might spot something we need. She is saying we might need something we spot.

Our entire economy is based on the peculiar shift of words between those two sentences. Need and desire have so been so cleverly confused by marketing that every desire becomes a need.


But back to carts and shopping. It doesn’t bother me so much that she is strangely compelled to grab a cart upon entering a store. What I find confounding is how she allows it to push her around.

Even if our only goal at a drug store was to pick up a prescription – her cart will draw her to the headwaters of the first aisle and from there, she will float along, like a rubber ducky caught up in a slow meandering current all the way through the store.

Her pace will be no quicker than a slow shuffle and it drives me nuts.

Inevitably I roll my eyes and whine, “Do we ALWAYS have to grab a cart and start at aisle one even though all we came here for is a prescription?”

And inevitably her response will be, “I might spot something we need. Go sit on a bench outside and read.”

It is our little ritual for we both know that I never accompany her to a store without a thick novel.

But this past week, she said something new.

As I was heading toward the door with my book, she called after me, “Why don’t you go over to Runnings?”

Runnings is a new guy store that recently opened in the old K-Mart that Wal-Mart put out of business.

It is a wonderland of stuff, targeted toward rural people, especially guys.. Everything at Runnings is bigger and beefier than what you would find in Lowes or Home Depot and they carry a lot of stuff for the farm that you cannot find anywhere else.  You can buy cat food there but it comes in 100 pound bags.  Even grass-seed comes in 100 pound bages.  It is the kind of place that explains why country people drive pickup trucks.

I love the place. I could spend weeks lost in the aisles, discovering new power tools or strange fittings and burn endless hours trying to figure out how everything works.

I was barely through aisle one when she rang me on my cell phone.

“I have been ready to leave for an hour,” she scolded, “where are you?.”

I tell her.

The phone went dead. A moment later it came back to life with the sound of a snicker which builds into a crescendo of laughter.

My wife could hardly control herself.

“Are you pushing a cart?” she asked.


Author: Almost Iowa

42 thoughts on “The Shopping Shuffle”

  1. This was great!! I loved it!! I’m the anti-shopping cart and my boyfriend makes fun of me for it. I try to fit everything in a hand-held basket and end up looking crazy when it’s overflowing and too heavy to carry. 🙂

  2. Ah…you’ve been converted! “She is not saying we might spot something we need. She is saying we might need something we spot.” That is woman shopping logic 101. I know it well. 😉 Also, you save money by spending it. My husband finds it a head scratcher too. 😉 Love this. Too funny!

  3. I have a personal challenge to leave a store with only the items on my list. Only I have ADHD. So I forget to put things on the list. So I always spot something I ,need. But I try really hard not to need the stuff I spot and let myself be led on by consumer culture.

  4. You’ve done a great job in writing this piece. I could just see your wife leaning on the shopping cart as she shuffles slowly along, going down each aisle methodically, eyeing the shelves up and down, while you sit outside, reading your novel, patiently waiting for your woman. Frankly, I’m surprised that you even accompany her on such trips. I don’t know if my husband would be so patient. But I’m glad you was able to make you understand in the end, though. Nice job!

    1. Frankly, I’m surprised that you even accompany her on such trips.

      We do it so that it gives us yet again another reason to gripe and complain.

  5. I bet Runnings has made you understand your wife’s obsession with the cart a bit better.
    Btw, I also always go through all the aisles! You never know what new product you’ll find, just what you need!

    1. It’s is great to find new product needs – but then one must consider the constraints of a pay-check….. that always spoils the fun.

  6. Bahaha! Your wife… She continued to entertain – what a gal!! I would be with her in aisle 1 of Walgreen’s, but even worse, I would have my coupon binder and a list of potential bargains. Shopping in America was (for me, anyway) like a quadratic equation. It was math and puzzles all at once – what fun! My poor husband learned to just let me get on with it, and benefited from the free deodorants. Ahhhh… No coupons in Britain *sad, sad face with little tears streaming down*

      1. Bahaha! I was wondering when you would pick up on that… As long as I was organised, it didn’t take long. All the prep work was done at home. Really, just a chapter or so, and I would have your free deodorant no problem! One good thing about couponing… Shopping with a list reduces impulse buying! I was a woman on a mission.

  7. i live with someone who cannot resist Costco and Ikea. Her idea of a vacation is Costco and Ikea. She loves those people who give out samples of food. For her, it’s a free lunch on Saturdays. So I have coined a new word which you can gladly share with your friends: Costcoista, or in the case the person is a male, Costcoisto.

  8. And there at a stroke you have outlined the workings of an economy and covered the entire works of perhaps the greatest economist of all time John Maynard Keynes! His book that was/maybe still is the bible for western economies was about 2 million words long though so I reckon you’ve outdone the main man here! Great post.

    1. Indeed Mike, but don’t forget about our home-town boy Thorstein Veblen, who coined the terms “conspicuous consumption” and “conspicuous leisure”.

  9. Huh, “were” you pushing a cart? I notice you never said if you were? Nosy minds want to know 🙂

    I grab a cart, too. That’s what holds me up. It’s also a barrier against other cart grabbers who might knock down unsuspecting folks, who didn’t “know” to grab a cart. Would you rather be hit by a cart and run over – or would you rather have their cart, hit yours and “maybe” survive? I hate shopping, but we both do. Mine will have to be fiction, as we put off shopping till we’re out of whatever we really needed to get.

    A lot of people, both men and women, are simply calling in orders at the stores and having stuff delivered, which is having someone “else, push the cart” and paying for it. It’s probably worth it!

    1. I decided to leave the question of whether I was pushing a cart to the imagination of the reader. I would suspect though, if we took a poll the results would be defined by gender.

  10. Roles are reversed in our household. Not cart-wise, but cruising-the-aisles-wise in case there are some bargains to be had.

    I really hate shopping. With or without a cart.

    1. I hear you loud and clear, Maggie.

      My wife loves shopping and she loves towns built for shopping. I think you know what I am talking about. When we go for a long autumn drive to look at the leaves, she will want to spend a couple of hours in some little Mississippi river town like Stillwater, Red Wing or Wabash (The Grumpy Old Men town) and stick her nose in every shop.

      I know how much she loves it so I don’t object. I just find a comfortable bar and while away the hours reading a good mystery.

      1. I’ve learned to bring along my tablet and/or novel on our trips, too. Mostly husband does the local shopping on his ownsome. I think he’s happier knowing that I’m not champing at the bit to get the h*ll outta Dodge.

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