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Shopping market chaos causes aggravation, frustration

Nov. 12, 1997

After the millionth frustrating Saturday afternoon trip to Super Wal-Mart, I'm tired of being run over, run into and just generally abused. Too many people with shopping carts do not pay attention to where they are going, causing collisions and great fear among those of us who do. If people drove cars the same way they drive shopping carts, there would be hundreds more traffic accidents in Waco alone. Although they are not as large or as powerful as cars, shopping carts can cause serious damage to people and to cars. For this reason, I think just like there are 'rules of the road,' there should be general rules for people using carts in stores.

First of all, there should be an age limit on pushing a shopping cart, just like on driving a car. There are too many reckless young pushers out there who need to be riding in the kiddie seat. If the child can't see over the top of the cart as to what's on the other side, that's one clue that he or she should not be in control of the situation. Nobody really wants to be knocked over by a child who doesn't even know they've hit somebody and probably will not apologize.

There should also be some prevailing right-of-way laws, just like on the road. The people who are traveling down the large aisle in the middle should have the right of way over the people in the crossing aisles. Too many times, these people 'pull out' quickly into the center aisle without even checking to see who might already be there, causing others to swerve and cause a major shopping cart pile-up. The people who are already there should come before the people who want to be there. Just like there is only room for so many cars on the road, there is only room for so many carts in the aisle.

This also applies to those who stand with their carts completely blocking an aisle, chatting with a friend whose cart is also obstructing passage. Drivers do not generally stop their cars in the middle of a busy highway to have a conversation. If they really want to talk, they pull over onto the shoulder or into a gas station. In the grocery store it would be just as easy to have a chat next to the bread or the lunchmeat, where others can still pass by. And if someone is blocking the aisle, they should be nice enough to move out of the way if another shopper wants to get through. It should not have to take minutes of throat-clearing and glaring to get the obstacle out of the way.

Cars have to stay in the right lane when driving on the road, and cart pushers should also try to stay on the right side of the aisle. If two people are coming down the same aisle in the same direction but on opposite sides, they force anyone coming the other way to perform some pretty incredible maneuvering just to reach their destination. If people would just try to stay to one side unless they are looking at merchandise on the other side, many collisions and traffic jams could be avoided.

Finally, just as there are laws against parking a car in a fire lane or in the middle of a road, there should be a law against leaving shopping carts to roam free in the parking lot. Many good and innocent cars have been damaged by runaway carts, which would have taken shoppers all of 30 seconds to put in a designated corral or back by the store.

Common courtesy and common sense would correct most of these problems without inconveniencing shoppers. However, many people who take control of a cart apparently have neither of these. I wonder, if we did have laws and required shoppers to take a 'driving test,' how many would actually pass?

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