I’m fortunate to live one short block from a small grocery, so I can easily walk there. Getting myself and my purchases home is less easy. My free-standing garage is in the back corner of my yard, so even if I drive to and from the store, I sometimes have to make more than one trip from the car to the house.
During my decades as a a litigator, I unselfconsciously drug several briefcases bungee-corded to “stewardess wheels” behind me onto trains, planes, elevators, buses, and up several flights of stairs. Setting aside my vanity, I reasoned that a wheeled shopping cart would be no different.
I learned such articles are available from suppliers that sell walkers and other assistive devices. I refused to leave my home following my hip surgery until I graduated from a wheeled walker to a cane, and involuntarily cringed whenever teenaged cashiers asked, “Would you like some help getting to your car, Sweetie?” Post-operative pain makes even those of us with the most pleasant of dispositions a tad cranky, and when you throw inhibition-lowering pain meds into the mix, the combination is a bit dicey. I constantly reminded myself that while my collapsible cane would come in handy as a defensive weapon, my temporary disability was unlikely to be a viable defense to an assault charge.
I decided a lightweight black cart would draw less attention than one that was shiny chrome, but, sigh, a red one was cheaper. Having survived using a long-handled claw to pull up my drawers after my hip surgery, I jettisoned the last remnant of vanity and placed my order, imagining myself in a hat with an enormous brim festooned with plastic fruit, pulling a tomato-red cart, retro-fitted with sled runners, over a six-foot snow drift.
“Some assembly required,” has never intimidated me, but after I unpacked the box and removed and opened the instruction booklet, which was securely attached to the metal frame with a twist-tie by someone who was apparently left-handed, I realized this effort would become both a test of my deteriorating eyesight and mental acuity. While the diagram showed where each of the six washers and two springs were to be threaded onto the axle along with the wheels and hubcaps, it was impossible to determine which of the cotter pins went where. To further complicate (I’m not yet perplexed) the assembly, the packing instructions indicated there were only two pins, while there were two sets of differently configured pins in the plastic bag sinistrally attached to the frame.
In case you’re thinking, she needs a man, please understand that while I’ve been religiously doing my exercises, I haven’t regained my pre-surgical speed, at least not sufficiently to sprint to the walls and windows to intercept flying hardware. Moreover, since I’m not yet deaf, the thought of enduring an ear-splitting diatribe about “Chinese instructions” would make that scenario even more distasteful.
I’m much more resourceful. To thank a friend (who loves shopping and loves the color red, even more) for helping me haul a carload to Goodwill, I’d ordered an identical cart for her. I sent her a message, trying my best to sound nonchalant. “Have you put your cart together, yet?”
She replied, “My husband did. I LOVE IT!”
I’ll admit to wondering, wistfully, how many bottles of wine will fit in my cart once it’s road-worthy, but I banished that thought to the same realm as my obsolete vanity and messaged back, “Can I look at it to see where the pieces go?”
I’m not giving up.