The Idle American: That's the way THEY roll ...


They are to be commended — the “big box” store planners — for the many “edges” they’ve honed to make it to the ladder’s top for in-store shopping.

Don Newbury

Who would have guessed their modus operandi would feature vendors lined up like carnival barkers soon after shoppers have shown their credit card IDs for entry?

Patrons truly haven’t “rolled” very far before the “pitches” begin. We may have entered with the notion to buy largely grocery items, but before we know it, these “pitchmen” (and “pitchwomen”) unleash queries, seeking answers that are none of their business.

They may ask us to reveal names of our electricity, internet and cell phone providers. Rather than answer them harshly or totally ignore, I try out new humor “lines” on them….


Responses need to be made with confidence, but — unless one is interested — must be made “to the point.” It is best to “keep rolling,” if the blasted cart will cooperate.

“I prefer my battery-operated home” is a favorite response before hearing the “pitch” about how much money I could save with their electricity offer.

“What is internet?” gets me to the next aisle with some, and, when they ask me about roof gutters, my retort is, “First we’d have to get us a roof!”…


During an upcoming “dog day” of summer, I plan to go to one of these stores with a small can of oil, and every few steps, I’m gonna stop the cart to grease each wheel.

   I’ll alternate these frequent “grease jobs” by contorting my cart on its side, end or “whomperjawed,” as if trying to determine why the oil isn’t helping. I’ll spin each wheel, fully expecting it to roll freely each time.

   My intent is to determine if the old saying is still in play: Do squeaky wheels still get the grease?....


   You’ve probably guessed it by now, but I am taking on shopping cart upkeep. I remain pretty much a non-combatant on most issues, but this one is worsening. And so far, fellow shoppers seem to be resolved to use carts provided for shopping, even if they are “running on the rim!”

   It is a microcosm of life at large. “Oh, well” is our response too often, and we trudge on.

   We DO NOT have to sleepily “go along” with what is foisted upon is. Our theme song does not have to be “Que Sera Sera.”…


   Clearly, wheel lubrication is NOT the problem. In many cases (the majority, I feel sure) they are absolutely OUT OF ROUND, as they say down at the tire store.

   That’s the reason for the “miniature traffic jams” when one extracts a cart to begin shopping.

   If committed to getting a cart with wheels still completely “round,” it may take a while….


OK, who gets the blame?

Since the “rough riders” seem to be found at all big box stores, let’s assume that it’s quite possible it is the way the carts are being returned to the store. (I don’t remember seeing shoppers who are remotely suspected of “cart abuse.”) I have, though, seen how they are returned to the cart area.

They are “rounded up,” then “shoved” back to the store by a motor-driven “shover.” Sometimes, I’ve seen guys taking sharp turns and push for increased speeds, thus damaging the wheels. Sometimes, a couple of guys compete, conga line style, as two lines are returned to the store….


What to do? Obviously, one should allocate a few extra minutes, determined to find that elusive cart that rolls “just right.” A few will.

Then, plan to make initial purchases of items that can “take the bounce,” such as dog food, canned goods and the like.

If you purchase whipping cream, it may be frothy and ready upon opening at home. Finally, avoid purchasing delicate plants--such as orchids--until just before checkout. You do want the petals to remain attached to the plant, don’t you?....

Dr. Newbury is a long-time public speaker and university president who writes weekly. Email: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Facebook: Don Newbury. Twitter: @donnewbury.