When I was 7 years old I got into a fight one day at school during recess. The other girl was making fun of my grandmother, and I was so incensed that I kicked her in the shins and we scuffled until a teacher came and pulled us apart and scuttled us off to the principal’s office. When he asked for an explanation, the other girl, Michelle, pointed at me and said I’d started it. I countered by telling him what she’d said about my grandmother. He sighed and just told us to shake hands and not let this happen again. Michelle and I never spoke to each other after that and I was glad when she and her family moved away the next year.
At that time we lived on the same block as my school; our back yard ended at the schoolyard fence. Shopping for nearly everything we needed was right around the corner, and as our family didn’t have a car we walked just about everywhere. My mother took the bus downtown, where she worked as a secretary, and my grandmother lived with us, taking care of my sister and I, taking care of the house and running errands as needed. When buying groceries, going to the bakery and shops nearby for meats and fruits and vegetables, she took her folding wire shopping cart with her. When she’d filled it with her purchases she pulled it behind her as she walked back home. Walking back home involved her walking past the school with her cart, which caused me no little embarrassment when our class was outside. No one else I knew had their grandmother living with them, and none of the mothers of my friends used such a shopping cart. It was my grandmother pulling the shopping cart that Michelle had made fun of, and was why I kicked her in the shins.
I hadn’t thought about a folding shopping cart again until recently. Currently I don’t live close enough to a grocery store to walk there and carry groceries home, but when I move in a few months one of my favorite grocery stores will be a short 4-minute walk from my home, and the farmer’s market will be right around the corner. I looked up the carts online and saw that now they have liners, with covers as well. Since we have light rain and misty conditions for a good part of the year in Portland, this seemed like a good idea to keep my purchases dry while I walked home with them.
The carts now are not just plain wire affairs; they come in various colors and styles and can be as decorative as one wants:
I read articles that younger people are finding these carts indispensable now, and while maybe not many 20-somethings are using them, the average age of cart users is much lower than in years past. This made me feel a bit better, as I was having a hard time accepting the image of my grandmother and her cart as me and MY cart now. When I was finally feeling pretty good about this, I suddenly ran across an article that called this a “Granny Cart,” and my heart sank. That’s it; I’ll get one of these carts and I will truly have entered geezerdom. People will think I’m OLD, and be glad they’re not old enough to use one and look old, too.
Thoroughly discouraged, I asked my daughter, “Do you think my using a folding shopping cart would make me look old?” “No!” was her emphatic reply. “I see people of all ages using them, all the time.” In a minute, she said, “Of course, not many people my age use them. And while you’re not old, you are getting old-ER, so anything that makes things easier for you is a good thing.” My face fell, and she commented dryly, “You know, you’re really making too much out of all this.”
I halfheartedly looked at some more articles online, and then ran across a quote that changed my mind about the prospect of using a shopping cart. When an older lady was asked about her cart and it was mentioned to her that more people don’t use them because they’re afraid of looking old, she shrugged and said, “Well, maybe they’re just not cool enough to use one!” That brought me up short. Of course I’m cool enough to use one; I was being silly and I have enough practical sense to see this will be a good thing for me. If it makes me look older, so be it. I’d briefly forgotten that one of the nice things about being old-ER is my quality of life is more important than what anyone thinks. I’m looking forward to getting a shopping cart now!