"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Confessions of a Neophyte Electric Shopping Cart Driver

 My right knee has been bothering me for three weeks, interfering with my ability to walk.   I finally cried "uncle" and stumbled into an urgent care facility in Anchorage.   The diagnosis was a bone chip in my knee that was aggravating everything around it.  

NO weight on the knee for ten days, the doctor ordered.

I dreaded hobbling around stores in pain before I left for home, so the first electric cart I used was at Costco. The carts are parked in the unheated entry with the regular carts, so it was cold as heck to sit on.

I found one that was fully charged, maneuvered my way between carts parked closely on either side, worked my way back to unplug it, and sat down. After fumbling around for a minute, I spotted the directions, read them, and took off.

These are fast take -off little critters! Once inside, I discovered a truth about people driving electric shopping carts: you are totally invisible to other shoppers! Completely invisible. You do not appear in their vision or consideration. This is true with both adults and young people ( who universally never see anyone with gray hair no matter where they are).

You Costco shoppers have no idea how close you came to being mowed down!

You can’t take the cart to your car to unload your purchases. Hence, once you’re back in that freezing cart alley, you have to put your stuff in a regular cart, park the electric cart, fumble your way behind it to plug it in, and wrestle your way free. It’s a bit of a chore for a healthy person And much more for someone who is having trouble walking.

Now you have a cart to hang onto to get to your vehicle, but Hey! A nice man offers to help, and after first declining, I accepted his offer. He pulled the cart through the snow and ice and boulders they call sand while I held onto the handle in the back.

Next stop: Fred Meyer’s.

Once again, the carts are parked close together in a way that requires a) you must seek help to get one unplugged and out where you can get into the seat, or, b) you have to defy your doctor’s orders to keep the weight off your knee.

The baskets are wider than the cart itself and when parked side by side? Impossible! Add to this, the person who parked the cart next to mine blocked the rear wheel of my cart with its rear wheel. After my struggle to get to the inside cart and unplug it, I was not about to change carts. And I’m not going to tell you how I got my cart free, either.

The carts at Freddie’s seem to be faster than those at Costco, but they are the same type vehicle and, boy, they can spin circles like crazy! Which I did a number of times.

By now, I was used to the jump-starts and no Freddie’s shoppers were harmed. However, with all the intersections in the aisles, I gained a new appreciation for the way Costco is laid out, i.e., basically, two main N/S aisles and two E/W crossing aisles. Far fewer chances to mow someone down at an intersection.

Again, however, with unloading into a regular cart to go outside. A nice lady asked if I needed help, but I had already transferred my groceries to a regular cart.

Finally, Carr’s/Safeway.

I lucked out. One cart in the middle of four was gone and I could unplug and start one with ease.
Safeway’s carts are noisy and feel like rattletraps. Maybe the noise warns ambulatory shoppers because there were no near collisions. When I was done, that middle cart was still gone, so parking and plugging was a snap.

All of this has given me insight into the difficulties of people with disabilities. Henceforth, I will yield the right of way and offer to help when I see a need.

About a month ago, I saw a woman in a cart struggling to unload her items from the cart onto the checker stand belt, and offered my help. She accepted, and I got a hug in return.


  1. Life keeps sending us new lessons! So nice when kind people offer to help. And, now you have a new appreciation for the world of electric carts. Hope you find relief for the pain in your knee. Hugs, Patti and Cap

  2. I go back to year 2004 when I fell and broke my left kneecap in two places. I routinely take the electric shopping carts right to my auto. I then unload my things AND PROMPTLY DRIVE THE CART back into the store. Seldom, but still sometimes, a store employee will question me and I reply that I am going to return the cart after I unload my purchases into my vehicle. They truly are a God-Send aren't they? Smiles from Cap and Hugs from Patti here in Arizona..

  3. I had my introduction to electric carts at Silver Dollar City, near Branson MO, this past Christmas. Thousands of people...and I was invisible. Impossible to rubberneck at the beautiful lights, for fear of creaming a visible person. I'll be more thoughtful in the future, too. Hope your knee heals quickly. Barb

    1. Hope you are well, too. How did I guess from your user name who you are, Clyde?

  4. You never can tell when a voice from the past will sound! Or write. All's well here!
    Cheers and hugs!