Posted by: chlost | November 13, 2010

Other people can write funny stories about their kids, but I am at a different time of my life

My mom and I are trying to get into a routine. We have been working on what she will need me to help her with, and what she is able to do for herself.  She seems to be struggling with this as much as I, but I am sure that it will work itself out within the next several weeks.

In the meantime, I took her grocery shopping yesterday. She decided that she wanted to shop at Target.

You may have missed them as you go into Target, but now I know that there are little red motorized carts with large shopping baskets in the front. These are for shoppers who aren’t able to make it around the store while walking. In other words, for my mother.

I will try to paint the picture for you in words.

My mother is tall. The motorized cart is low. Before we could even begin our journey through the store, she needed assistance to sit on this cart. Suffice it to say that I come by my lack of graceful movement honestly. Plop!

Look at the carts carefully sometime. They are supposed to be used by persons who are elderly or physically challenged in some manner. Look at the directions to use the cart. The printing is small. The buttons are small. The little on/off indicator light is small. Can we all say “design flaw”?

After a few minutes of fumbling to figure out how the cart started, going in reverse, forward, reverse and finally forward into the store, we were off!  On to the produce section!

If you have shopped at a Target, perhaps you have noticed that the produce section has bins of produce and deli-style goods set at angles rather than in aisles. Again, this is a flaw in layout not fully appreciated until you are accompanying an 80-year person who has not a clue how to steer the motorized cart s/he is driving.  But we made through the area with minimal damage to cart and produce.

Although we had a shopping list, I am not familiar with this store, so we pretty much had to go up and down every aisle to find all of the items on the list. At the end of each aisle, my mom was confused as to which way to turn. Inevitably, the wide turning radius of the cart meant that backing up and trying again was required.

Did you know that those little carts have a backing-up beeper on them? Just like the dump trucks, delivery trucks, or other large vehicles on the street. Yes, they do. The beeping is almost as loud as those vehicles. We beeped around the end of almost every aisle.

As we continued down the aisles, we also saw other shoppers. This was a bit confusing, as it required that the motorized cart had to be adjusted from the center of the aisle to one side to allow the other shoppers to pass.

It was like a scene from a Saturday Night Live skit. In fact, I think I should send in this idea for an SNL skit. Can you picture shoppers clinging to the shelving on their side of the aisle, those with children, pulling the children to them shielding them from the oncoming motorized cart with its basket filled with groceries, a metal cane extending out of the side of the cart, its driver clearly concentrating to prevent the upcoming crash against the side of the shelving unit? Yes, that was all in one sentence, but that is exactly the way it happened. In a run on sentence kind of way.

Behind this motor cart, there is a past middle-aged woman who looks like a younger version of the driver, shaking her head, trying to give directions to the driver while simultaneously smiling apologetically to those in her wake.

My mother stated several times that “This is just like learning to drive a car again!”  In my head, you could almost hear me screaming “Yes, and this is why you will not be allowed to drive ever again”.

I decided to pull my car up to the front doors to meet her with the groceries, so I could load both her and the groceries easily.  As we exited the store, the alarms went off: you know the ones. The alarm that tells everyone in the store that someone is trying to steal something.  My mother didn’t hear them.  

I just kept walking out of the store.

We made it, $44.00 worth of groceries an hour and a half later, with no physical damage.

The emotional damage, priceless.



  1. Ohhhhhhh my God!!! I worry about scenarios like this!!! And I don’t really have anyone to help me.
    Congratulations on navigating as well as you did.

    And do remember that it will get easier as you both learn the logistics of all this.

    • I know, that is what is so hard….I know the shoe will be on my foot someday. It’s quite the perspective.

  2. So, there you go. Move to Florida and open a driving school for seniors to learn how to drive these contraptions! Stores might hire you, too, and you could make a nice living away from the snow!

    • Sounds like a plan!

      What a nightmare, you must have been exhausted.

      • Yes, we both were.

    • That is actually not a bad idea…..hhmmm!

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