Letters to the Editor

Cart complaint

December 29, 2010


To the editor:

This problem may be just a grain of sand on the beach of life, given the state of this world, but I just returned from yet another store where in order to disengage a shopping cart from about 30 of them all jammed together, I had to tug violently at two of them with another customer, each of us at either end of the stuck-together baskets, as though we were engaged in a tug of war. We managed each to get one loose, but not without getting my finger jammed in the process. I am watching the knuckle swell as I type this letter and I fully expect to lose my fingernail.

Almost daily at whatever type of store, I have found carts so tightly forced together that it is only after about five physically taxing tries that I manage to find one that frees itself from its captive companions (and inevitably that’s the cart that only makes left turns).

This time, I took up the matter with a store manager who listened politely and then proceeded to do absolutely nothing, probably rolling his eyes to the ceiling after I quit bothering him. This was despite the “greeter” at that store who was standing there doing nothing, and who could have employed his time productively by separating the baskets for the customers. Perhaps store owners who provide shopping carts would consider giving a gift to their customers at this festive time of year by making life a bit easier in this respect.


deec 7 years, 4 months ago

When you pull the carts apart, you are interferring with their mating cycle...

pizzapete 7 years, 4 months ago

Agreed, I'm thinking she probably has trouble getting the lid off a jar, too.

Brad Maestas 7 years, 4 months ago

That's the way the cart wranglers get back at you for taking them for granted. You see, in the beginning it was just an unfortunate side effect of efficient corralling - fast approach speeds and the eventual momentum of dozens of carts created a compression effect still unknown at the time. Several years of intensive laboratory trials were conducted by Dr. Bubbles in Nova Scotia and a paper was eventually published outlining the particular metallurgical properties of various carts and their associated friction and compression coefficients when stacked together. After the paper was published and the information was interpreted and disseminated by the CWI (Cart Wranglers International), the cart wranglers of the world finally had the science to back up the perfect outlet for their grievances against society. Don't bother asking one of them. They will feign ignorance. I've said too much.

SnakeFist 7 years, 4 months ago

The fact that Dr. Bubbles received grants and stuff from CWI was exposed during the infamous "Cartgate" scandal. I had no trouble separating a cart yesterday, which is common-sense proof that there are no such effects from cart-corralling. Any science to the contrary is nothing more than an obvious attempt by socialist liberals to control yet another aspect of our lives and strip us of our God-given freedom to shop with the cart of our choice! And if you disagree with that, then you're clearly an unpatriotic anti-American who hates America and the U.S. of A.

Kirk Larson 7 years, 4 months ago

Yeah, it's all a big conspiracy to pi$$ off Tom any time he comes out of his hole so that maybe he'll just stay home and quit bothering the rest of us.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 4 months ago

Doesn't happen often, but Tom, you are absolutely right. Rage against the machine, brother, rage......

Icy_Flame48 7 years, 4 months ago

I imagine by the sound of things your ticked off quite often...

Chelsea Kapfer 7 years, 4 months ago

just bring in your own soda and snacks. I do and no one seems to care.

Jimo 7 years, 4 months ago

Works about as well as any free enterprise system.

My understanding is that the right-wing government is furious at the privatized airport in London whose business model prioritizes milking captive travelers with parting with their cash over de-icing airplanes.

What's ironic for the "market knows best" crowd is that the theater makes most if not virtually all it's profit from concessions!!! Yet, you report that this model of capitalism can't even get it's priorities straight. Now in laissez faire theory, these guys will get their act together snap-snap or be put out of business by a more efficient competitor. Want to make a bet on whether that will ever happen? LOL Gee, maybe we can let them turn the world's financial system into a casino of speculation. Ooopss....we already did that. And paid them a massive bonus. After losing all the money.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating turning theaters over to the government (or even regulating them). My point is: markets are tools not panaceas.

If a simple enterprise such as a movie theater can't be run with brutal laissez faire efficiency, how in the world can we expect such an approach to work in markets lacking many of the prerequisites for effective market price signals such as health care or education or are deeply distorted by tax, legal, and economic subsidies such as agriculture or petroleum production? That is: absent government intervention to keep the profitmaking focus less on what item in the airport giftshop has the most lucrative mark-up and more on whether the nation's air transportation system (the raison d'etre for airports after all) can tolerate a foot of snow without collapsing.

jayhawklawrence 7 years, 4 months ago

I would look for the answer in the field of genetics. You probably are missing the shopping cart gene set.

For many years I swore at coffee pots and milk cartons because I cannot seem to pour anything from them without at least a small spill.

I had to accept the reality that it is not the coffee pot's fault.

Chris Ogle 7 years, 4 months ago

"(and inevitably that’s the cart that only makes left turns)."

That's what happens when you piss off the cart.

Icy_Flame48 7 years, 4 months ago

couldn't agree with you more...sad very sad

mr_right_wing 7 years, 4 months ago

Besides being a haven for socialized medicine, most stores in Canada do the exact same thing as Aldis (with shopping carts.)

Weird colored (coloured) money, socialized medicine, no free drink refills and shopping cart rental!

God bless the U.S.A.!

George Lippencott 7 years, 4 months ago

I bet that with a little effort we can create a city department of grocery carts. We can send supervisors to the stores to make sure that all the carts are lined up and ready to go. Add in clean and in good repair. Maybe freshly polished. Good lord, what next – toilet paper – have you noticed the rolls are getting smaller??

BruceWayne 7 years, 4 months ago

only after Core-less invests $250,000 in a study to see if we indeed need the department of grocery carts.

bearded_gnome 7 years, 4 months ago

shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! george, pst! hush! you're giving them ideas man!

Almost daily at whatever type of store, I have found carts so tightly forced together that it is only after about five physically taxing tries that I manage to find one that frees itself from its captive companions (and inevitably that’s the cart that only makes left turns).

---inevitably, of course because you live and shop i ... lawrence where all the shopping carts swerve handsomely to the left, roundabouts take money to fix broken streets, and all the children are above average!

no, this problem is not because of mating carts, no not george bush.

I have it on good authority that these carts are made by a subsidiary of ... Halliburtn! they were done on a no-bid contract put in through a secret backdoor deal so that each time you push one of these, each time you pull them apart, money flows into Dick Cheney's wallet.

acg 7 years, 4 months ago

RE: Cart related rant. You know what drives me nuts? When people shop at Walmart and then take their cart across the street to the bus stop on the Kohl's side. If you can't carry the crap to the bus stop then how are you getting it home on the bus without the use of the cart? Then, after the bus comes and picks all the peeps up, there are a dozen carts all over the grass and out in the middle of the road. And Jan, I agree wholeheartedly about the cart jams. I especially hate it when you're trying to jerk one apart from the rest but it's hung up on the broken child's safety belt (which any child over 1 1/2 can unbuckle, btw). Ugh, carts piss me off.

funkdog1 7 years, 4 months ago

All of you people b*ching about "the public experience" need to try working there yourselves. Then you'd understand how difficult it really is.

tomatogrower 7 years, 4 months ago

If my biggest problem in life was grocery carts, I'd be doing lots of cartwheels. Want to trade lives, Jan? Stop shopping if it's that big of a problem. Or carry one of the baskets.

Take_a_letter_Maria 7 years, 4 months ago

I prefer to shop without a cart myself. I find that it controls the amount that I spend if I can only buy that which I can carry through the store and to the check-out stand.

Gene Wallace 7 years, 4 months ago

The big problem with shopping without a cart is that you become "Fair Game" for those with carts. If you are not quick or have poor reflexes, you end up bumped and bruised.

Mike Hatch 7 years, 4 months ago

Shopping carts are a priviledge, not a right.

I've experienced the 2-4 carts jammed together most every week at the grocery. It's part of life. If I can't get one un-jammed in ten seconds or less, I move on to find one that comes apart from its friends a little easier. Of course, it's always the one with 1 wheel that wants to go back out into the parking lot while the other 3 wheels want to shop.

It may have something to do with how they're corraled and wheeled back into the store. I've watched, facinated, at the store employees who have a chain of what looks like a hundred-plus carts linked together, wheeling them across the parking lot into the store.

That can't be good for the carts.

Icy_Flame48 7 years, 4 months ago

That's what I thought when I first read it too

barlowtl 7 years, 4 months ago

Where I live there are three grocery stores, the greeters in 2 of them separate carts & make them easily available, in the third they do not. Guess where this 80 yr old does most of her shopping. So if your local businesses read these postings it would be worth their while to take note of their content.

mr_right_wing 7 years, 4 months ago

I've never had this kind of problem at any of the Dillons stores I've gone to. So shop at Dillons!! (Plus they have those cool 'mini-carts'!)

(Ok, I'll take that $25 in groceries now.....)

bearded_gnome 7 years, 4 months ago


I really don't like the idea of carts outside or at the entrance as they are unsightly and there are more than three unrelated jammed together. The city really needs to create an ordinanace[sic] for stores to not allow so many unrelated carts outside.

---Q: how do you know when carts are jammed together that they are unrelated? this is clearly not DNA!

pushing 100 or so carts all together as one across the lot. if carts could talk, you'd hear them calling this the "death march!"
but then, if carts could talk, would they ever get jammed together at all?
or, would we even succeed in shopping with them?

... three unrelated carts jammed together? is that even legal, I mean it would scare the horses!

cozy 7 years, 4 months ago

I like how no one thinks about older/elderly people or handicapped people that may not be able to tug at the carts to get them loose. Its also then a liability issue, what if the elderly person hurts their shoulder while trying to pull them apart? Then they could sue. Its possible.

pace 7 years, 4 months ago

Actually a guy pushing a row of carts at a grocery ran into my elderly father and broke his ankle. They have a formidable legal department and never settled and insisted he had walked into the store with a broken ankle. was still pending when Dad passed away. The signs saying they are not responsible are serious. Dad had a pretty good sense of humor, said that the depression, tornadoes and women couldn't take him down but to watch out for those grocery carts.

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

What grocery store is that? I don't want to shop there.

The employee, and thus the store, are clearly legally liable, in my opinion.

riverdrifter 7 years, 4 months ago

Jarrod, a lot associate at Home Depot, set a personal record today: 22 carts shoved in in a single line. Way to go, Jarrod!

black_butterfly 7 years, 4 months ago

Oh the woes of shopping carts. Jen, hun, if you lift up slightly on the retracted drop down basket that is meant for babies to sit in while you are pulling the cart out that should free the cart from the bunch. Also check to make sure the security straps meant for the babies aren't "attaching" the carts to each other. Good comment UNIKU.

geoismeo 7 years, 4 months ago

That's good, but don't they have motorized pushers to assist? Anyway, way to go Jarrod.

pace 7 years, 4 months ago

If we just harnessed the energy this letter to the editor released we wouldn't have oil wars. Take tools with you, use a pry bar to separate the carts, then loosen and reset the wheels. and remember the adage, I felt bad about losing a fingernail until I met a man with no fingernails.

Carol Bowen 7 years, 4 months ago

These comments are really entertaining. It's good to see that posters can lighten up once in a while. Enjoyed reading them.

P.S. I agree that carts are a problem. A customer should not have to be an able-bodied cart-separating pro.

kernal 7 years, 4 months ago

This whole cart jammin' thing is paybacks by the carts for leaving them out in the middle of the freezing cold parking lots where they get hit by cars and rudely shoved around by rude customers. Not the cart's fault some lazy butt left it out in the middle of the only remaining parking space instead back in the safety of the corral with its buddies.

Seriously, unless you have a toddler(s) in tow, are almost too sick to walk, are on crutches or otherwise physically handicapped, put the cart in the cart corral or back in the store. It's really disgusting to see a twenty something year old who is over 6' and 200 lbs. who can't put the cart where it belongs then see an elderly woman put it in the cart corral for him. Looser.

perryproud 7 years, 4 months ago

while we're on the subject of things that are super annoying, how about when people misuse the terms Loser and looser.... I think you mean loser....

gphawk89 7 years, 4 months ago

I have a different cart complaint. Standing in line at the checkout and the person behind you feels the need to bump their cart into your rear or heels every time you take a step forward. Probably the same people that tailgate while driving.

password 7 years, 4 months ago

The carts lock together when pushed in like that. All you have to do is lift up on the pushing handle and pull out. Thats all... just lift and pull. Works for me everytime.

Ron Holzwarth 7 years, 4 months ago

password, that might work but there's a problem: Some people are only happy when they have something to complain about.

I think that if a shopping cart is jammed, you should try another one. I have had to do that only once that I can remember. Wobbly wheels do bother me, though. But, not enough to write a letter to the editor about it. My solution to that is the same: Get another cart.

But, everyone has to agree with the writer of the LTE on this point: "This problem may be just a grain of sand on the beach of life, given the state of this world,"

classclown 7 years, 4 months ago

UNIKU (anonymous) says…

I'd say you have a pretty good life if all you have to b**ch about is a freakin' shopping cart. Get a life! Things are rough all over. You and the guy who whines that delays while playing golf at Alvamar are "unbearable" need to get a room.


Don't forget about the bruschetta guy. I'm sure he's out there cringing somewhere right now.

Rebecca Valburg 7 years, 4 months ago

sigh Life is pretty good if this is the biggest thing we have to complain about.

I don't know how many times I've walked up on someone throwing a massive fit about two carts being stuck together (the whole yanking, cursing, etc), looked at them, and used all of two fingers to unwrap the child safety strap from one cart from the wires of the other cart. Sometimes a little logic goes further than fit-throwing. Sure, you do have the carts that someone has backed into with their car that get perma-jammed, and yeah, those aren't worth your time.

I'm thinking carts inside the store aren't the greatest idea. If it's precipitating at all, let's think about what's going to happen when you're pushing in 50 carts, four wheels on each dragging in water . . . not to mention any water that may be clinging to the cart itself. Yeah, you may have to walk all the way back to the entrance to get a cart, but I think that's a fair trade for grandma not having to worry about breaking a hip on her way to get Metamucil.

I'm also curious how many carts Jan walks by on her way into the store. There is a good chance that any bum carts that do materialize WILL be discarded immediately, so apply a bit more logic - it's pretty likely that if there are three carts in three hundred that suck, by the middle of the afternoon, they're all going to be right at the entrance to the store, where they were discarded. So, Jan parks her car, walks past 20 carts that were left in the parking lot, and goes straight for those three. If you really hate the junky carts, obviously someone liked the ones in the parking lot that day, so you might want to consider helping the cart guy out (as well as the person that's likely to not see it and smash into it before the cart guy gets it) and taking one of the ones you walk past.

deec 7 years, 4 months ago

The random carts scattered around the parking lot are homeless carts. She doesn't choose one of them because she is afraid it will ask her for some loose change. Or they may be the young single carts looking to hook up.

Rebecca Valburg 7 years, 4 months ago

Lastly, I'm confused as to why this letter was written to the editor at all? I'm going to give the benefit of the doubt, and assume that she really was dealing with two carts that were smashed by a car, and the metal bent in such a way that they WERE jammed together. Step one would obviously be to talk to a manager (or really, even the guy pushing carts should be capable of this). No one wants to hear complaints all day on the same thing, and no one really wants to do accident paperwork, so notifying someone that the carts aren't safe is a great first step. I would venture to say that most of the time, they'd be happy to add those to the pile that need to be sent back to be refurbished (again, if they really suck - obviously if the straps are just tangled, and in your tantrum, you've managed to wedge the plastic latch into the mess, you've just made a fool of yourself, and I imagine there WILL be eye-rolling). If that doesn't work, ask for a higher member of management, and if you've actually managed to talk to the main manager of the store, go to the service desk and copy down the store's hotline. Whining to your friends, writing a letter to the editor, etc. are guaranteed to accomplish nothing, but if a store manager has to explain to his or her boss why the store has received 47 phone calls that week about one easily-fixable problem, I suspect he or she will be a bit more motivated to fix it.

ralphralph 7 years, 4 months ago

If you swabbed the handle of a Mart Cart and did a culture from it, you'd never touch one again. EW!

Boosh 7 years, 4 months ago

"You could stop a trolley by turning it over, when its wheels spun madly and uselessly. The wizards saw a number of enthusiastic individuals trying to smash them, but the trolleys were practically indestructible – they bent but didn’t break, and if they had even one wheel left they’d make a valiant attempt to keep going. “Look at that one!” said the Archchancellor. “It’s got my laundry in it! My actual laundry! Darn that for a lark!” He pushed his way through the crowds and rammed his staff into the trolley’s wheels, toppling it over. “We can’t get a clear shot at anything with all these civilians around,” complained the Dean. “There’s hundreds of trolleys!” said the Lecturer in Recent Runes. “It’s just like vermine! 15 Get away from me, you – you basket!”

15 Vermine are small black-and-white rodents found in the Ramtop Mountains. They are ancestors of the lemming, which as is well known throws itself over cliffs and drowns in lakes on a regular basis. Vermine used to do that, too. The point is, though, that dead animals don’t breed, and over the millennia more and more vermine were descendants of those vermine who, when faced with a cliff edge, squeaked the rodent equivalent of Blow that for a Game of Soldiers. Vermine now abseil down cliffs, and build small boats to cross lakes. When their rush leads them to the seashore they sit around avoiding one another’s gaze for a while, and then leave early to get home before the rush.

Reaper Man Terry Pratchett

volunteer 7 years, 4 months ago

One of the most enjoyable threads to read in a long time. Thanks, good-natured humorists who came out to play.

black_butterfly 7 years, 4 months ago

I'd deal with misbehaving carts any day rather than have to deal with so called greeters who don't greet the customers, like that old coot at the Dillons on 6th and Wakarusa. I know his name but won't say it. He always has a scowl on his face and never greets me. I have even started purposely saying hello to him just to irritate him, but he will turn his head (and turn red) and STILL not speak. It must be my "year round tan" that he doesn't like. LOL.

Sunny Parker 7 years, 4 months ago

Good god Jan...you poor woman! Why don't you try a different grocery store lady if you aren't happy with your current one.

Ron Holzwarth 7 years, 4 months ago

People have commented about "mating cycles" and disease among the carts that become enmeshed. Because these are serious problems, there is only one sloution: We need prophylactics for shopping carts!

Commenting has been disabled for this item.