Slices of Life: Important and irreplaceable -- grocery cart etiquette, part 2 of 2

"Do not leave your cart for any reason, except to chase a small child who has gotten loose in the candy aisle," writes Jill Pertler.

Jill Pertler
Jill Pertler
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Last week, I touched on the importance of choosing the best and most functional grocery cart. I attempted to use wise words to not only define refined grocery cart features, but to outline their importance as well.

Now we address part two of this worthwhile and much needed endeavor. (As judged from some of my fellow shoppers who seem to be completely oblivious to the basics of cart civility and decorum.)

Let’s say you’ve chosen the perfect cart. No rust, no squeaks, no dents or abnormalities. You might think you are in the clear, but as far as your overall cart experience goes, we’ve only just begun. (Small pause and nod to Karen Carpenter with that last sentence.) OK, let’s move forward, as any good — and rust-free — cart will do.

Mastery of the rules I am about to outline can literally make or break the grocery experience for each co-shopper you meet. It is basic etiquette at its best, and it’s not only essential, but also imperative to the safety and general well-being of every shopper in the store.

First and foremost: Once you choose your cart, you are one entity with said cart for the endurance of your entire shopping experience. You’ve committed to this long-term relationship for the next 45 minutes and nothing should interrupt that symbiosis.


At all times stay in close proximity to your cart. I can’t stress this enough. Keep in mind your overall cart imprint — how much space are you consuming and how can you make that tighter and smaller.

Aisle maintenance is paramount. Imagine you are navigating a two-lane highway, not a traffic jammed street during rush hour. Stay in your lane and avoid drifting toward the median. Attend to your responsibilities; sloppiness is not acceptable at this point.

Although you should be physically attached to your cart at all times, there is the possibility of you standing on the left side of the aisle (looking at tuna) while your cart waits on the right (near the ever-expanding selection of canned chili).

DO NOT commit this offense!

You are blocking an entire aisle and it is not permissible under grocery guidelines 2.0, established by the Geneva Council of 1971, subpart 32.75: “tuna verses canned meats.”

It’s as serious as toilet paper, people. Pay attention.

Do not leave your cart for any reason, except to chase a small child who has gotten loose in the candy aisle.

A blatantly abandoned cart only encourages disrespect and disregard. Plus you are most likely blocking some important component of my plans for tonight’s dinner and your cart (in my way) will only angst my angst and ruffle my rile. Please, practice cart supervision. I can’t stress this enough.


Just a few weeks ago, I came upon a fellow shopper in the section near the frozen shrimp. He was paused by my shrimp freezer door, sort of staring at the ceiling — as though frozen in thought. I wasn’t sure what item he was searching for (or even if any search was in progress) when suddenly he turned around, let GO of his cart, and (ready for this?) Walked all the way over to the next aisle where he stood there naked (in the sense that he didn’t have a cart) looking at pizza rolls.

I’m not sure he ever returned to his cart. I couldn’t absorb the recklessness of his actions without feeling a little bit nauseous. In order to maintain my own sanity I quickly grabbed a bag of jumbo shrimp and made my way to the check out, hoping upon hope he didn’t decide to completely abandon his cart and follow me.

I dodged a bullet that day.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright and author. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright and author.
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