She once asked for a cart at Tires Plus. They didn’t provide carts – now they do.
When I question 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.
The Mad Men of marketing have so cleverly confused need and desire that everything once raised to a desire becomes a need.
Kids need the latest model of cell phone because their friends have them. They need the latest brands to keep in step. They need credit cards to match the pace of accelerating needs.
They only desire breakfast.
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 all we wanted was to pick up a prescription at Walgreen’s – her cart will draw her to the headwaters of aisle one and from there, she will float along, like a rubber ducky caught up in a slow meandering current that winds and weaves all the way through through the store.
Her pace is 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 built into a crescendo of laughter. My wife could hardly control herself.
“Are you pushing a cart?” she asked.