Shopping Cart Lottery
Does anyone else feel like choosing your shopping cart is like playing the lottery? I nearly always feel that way. I walk up to the mess of carts with one kid on my hip, my stylish diaper bag slung over my shoulder, and Nora typically loudly telling me which cart she wants. Then the quick decision-making begins. My ultimate goal: pick the cart with the least amount of germs. But, of course, you can’t see germs, so this leads to a lot of guessing. I’m assuming that I have a 1 in 10 chance of picking a cart that has been contaminated by someone puking only an hour before and a 6 in 10 chance of grabbing a cart that has been smeared with snot by a runny-nosed kid (fall and winter). Just in case you haven’t ever looked at lottery odds, my odds of ending up with a germ-covered cart are much better than winning the lottery. Like exponentially better. So, here’s my thoughts process.
1) If I notice any food debris or trash in the cart, that cart is out.
2) If I see a mom with kids return the cart before me, that cart is out.
3) If there is a lot of rust on the seat area, that cart is out. Rust has germs, right?
4) If the buckle is broken or partially broken, that cart is out simply because I can’t have a kid flying out of the cart.
If it’s a really sunny day and there is a decent looking cart in a cart return outside, that’s a plus for me. I’ve decided that MAYBE the cart has gotten hot enough to kill nasty germs. In the summer, this is a hard one. I’ve had to refrain from putting my child into a scorching cart and burning them. If I get a cart from inside, I really prefer not getting one that is at the front of the line. It probably was returned recently and has a bunch of living germs on it.
At this point, someone might say, “Heather, use the sanitizing wipes at the front of the store.” Let me assure you, this is not the perfect solution. First of all, how often are there even wipes when you need them? Second, I’ve heard that the surface you’re sanitizing has to fully dry before the germs are actually killed. (Google that? No, thank you. I don’t trust Google.) Third, if I use the wipes and then put either girl in the cart, they immediately start touching all of the freshly wiped, wet surfaces. That might be okay for Nora, but Hannah will inevitably put her hands in her mouth in the near future. It makes me feel like I’ve essentially just wiped my daughter’s tongue with a sanitizing wipe. Yeah, I could let it dry, but do I really have time to pick a cart, wipe it down, and then wait 10 minutes for it to dry? I don’t think so. We’re doing good to make it through a store without attracting too much attention as it is.
But, all of this pales in comparison to the horror I felt for months after Nora started noticing the “specialty carts.” You know. Those carts that take up the entire width of the aisle and should have a “Caution: Wide Turning Radius” sign on them. No one above the age of 6 would choose those carts on their own accord, so you KNOW that this is a cart that has been contaminated by kids who most likely are incapable of blowing their own noses (at least into a tissue). A friend told me that her husband once left one of these germ factories gems WITHOUT cleaning it up after her son wet his pants. Just let that sink in. The sanitizing wipes solution flies out the window for sure when facing one of these giants. I’m pretty sure I could use about 20 wipes on one of these and still have surfaces to clean. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it would be a lot.
So, I roll the dice and pick a cart. The best possible cart: newer-looking, shiny clean, perfect buckles and preferably in a shopping cart return towards the middle of the parking lot with no trees around (Sick people don’t like to walk too far, and trees most likely mean a high number of bird droppings on the cart.). In about 48 hours I get to find out if I won the shopping cart lottery. In the meantime, I say a few prayers for health and wash hands a lot.