life with shopping carts.



in talking with my grandson

about the reason shopping carts are found all over

i told him to think about where he sees them and why that might be

i told him to consider the fact that they are often found

where there are people without transportation or without disposable income

who may have to walk a long distance, have a disability, or take public transportation to get home

most with challenging life circumstances

i told him about

when i moved to family housing here for grad school

with no money, but still one of my favorite times of my life

everyone in debt, in grad school, with families, with limited income

most did not have cars and could not afford taxis

i saw that shopping carts were all around us

 quickly noticed why.

families used them for everything

to move in and out, to move their children, to move their laundry to the common area

to move things to our monthly swap meets, to carry food, to carry things to their car, and on and on…

my youngest daughter lived with me

for a few months before heading off to her university

before long, we were using them

they had come from the local grocery store

 when people would walk home with food for their families

the carts would stay to be used in the community

the grocery store would send a truck once a week

to round them up and take them back to the store

and the next week they would be back

it seemed to be an unwritten understanding

i came to love the custom and used them many times for every imaginable purpose

 understanding why they were so helpful and important to the community.

everyone was just trying to find a way to live their life

to get things done that needed doing

while making the best of their circumstances.

“do what you can with what you have, where you are.”

-theodore ‘teddy’ roosevelt – 26th president of the united states

96 responses »

  1. I saw plenty of them sitting in backyards, always in poor places, often piled high with laundry…. just as you described. Sadly also saw many of them along rivers, in fields, mostly in France. I never see any discarded in 🇨🇭, never thought much about that fact. Realise just how lucky we are….
    Great life lesson ♥️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have less problem with these carts than the ones left in the middle of the lot – the ones you KNOW are left behind because the person is too lazy to bring it back 😉
    However, thank you for this lovely perspective. It reminded me that my former babysitter used to walk her groceries home with the cart… She usually brought it right back but I like the idea of it being used by all the residents of the apartment building.
    And how cool that the company sent a truck to pick them up!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great lesson, Beth. I remember when I was growing up in the Big Apple, my grandmother and many her age would own smaller, one-person carts meant to be pulled behind you, big enough to carry a trip’s worth of groceries or goods from other area stores. Not many people there drove cars, but plenty of them took those personal carts on buses or even the subway trains. What a great idea they were and still would be.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You showed how useful a shopping cart can be not only for shopping. I just think of how many shopping cards a company has to order each year since they are taken away for other needs than shopping in their store.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We are given images of the homeless with everything they own in a shopping cart. Reading this, I am struck with how helpful owning a shopping cart would be – if for nothing more than wheeling heavy bags of trash to the alley where the garbage cans are! But “owning” involves having made purchase of or given permission to take, probably not the case with most who have one in their possession.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yes, I think the homeless with carts may have all of their worldly possessions in them. as they have no physical place to live, the cart travels with them to their nightly temporary homes wherever that ends up being.


  6. Beth, we see that “goodness in carts” in our community. Folks who can’t drive for whatever reason do their shopping at the grocery stores, and then take the carts up to the “main street” bus stops. This makes their journey a little easier to navigate. As I have gotten older and wiser, I am grateful these carts are available for those who need to help them get just a little bit farther in order to be safer and more at ease.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I’d not thought beyond the carts at the grocery store and the ones seen so often in homeless communities. Oh, and the few abandoned at the bottom of a hill after being ridden there by some kid. You’ve certainly broadened my appreciation of these carts, the adult version of the big wagon I had as a kid.

    Liked by 1 person

    • right! yes, we sometimes have the teens out in them having fun, but the homeless use them to keep and move all of their worldly possessions to their ‘new home’ each day


  8. Brilliant post and a compelling lesson for young and old! All of us, at one time or another, have needed some help. If we weren’t so damn judgmental about everyone and the circumstances that they may be dealing with that we know NOTHING about, the world would be a kinder and gentler place. Thanks for that reminder.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. what a beautiful reflection on something most of just simply ignore. I’ll never look at a stray cart again. And I loved that the grocery store would send a truck once a week to pick them up, essentially OKing such usage…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I loved this, just as many readers before me.
    Where I grew up they were often taken from the store to transport shopping home, but then left for mischief makers or to be dumped somewhere. I would have much preferred your scenario. The supermarkets came up with a plan (as there were also many shoppers just leaving them in the car park or in local streets), to pay a small fee to an assistant to ‘hire’ the trolley. It was such a small fee though, many still could not be bothered returning them. So we, as kids took the bait, as did other poorer members of the society and we’d run around gathering trolleys and returning them to the store. Until we had gathered enough cash for a decent lunch at the baker.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Mary always parks close to the cart corral so she can put her cart away right after she uses it. It drives her (and me) crazy that people can’t even do that. I mean, this is a pretty well-to-do suburb, you’d think people would be a little more considerate.

    Liked by 1 person

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