If there is one thing I look forward to even more than having my eyes gouged out with a dull spoon it is the grand adventure of taking the four youngest of my children grocery shopping when it is 5:00 p.m., every person in Kalispell is in the store shopping for dinner, and my kids have decided they live like Ethiopians because they haven't had food for approximately 4 1/2 minutes.
This particular day was going to be a particularly interesting one because the baby had an ear infection, Tony was running around the inside of the van like it was a giant hamster wheel and Bryn's head was just plain spinning on her neck like a top. I was trying to hold my sanity together with some duct tape and random bits of dental floss. Hannah was stoic, as usual. Probably wishing she was anywhere but here but more likely just frozen silent with the horror of what was about to transpire. You see, Hannah's job when we are in the store is acting Head Wrangler on Tony and Bryn to make sure they don't split while I'm rummaging for meat sale deals. Today, hoping against hope that we could make it a quick trip, I selected one of the dread car-carts.
Now, the poor bastard that designed these had a neat idea. Keep the little buggers entertained and under control while Mommy or Daddy peacefully shops. I also would like to personally bitch slap this person into next week for ever coming up with these things. They are roughly twice the size of a normal cart which means in most stores you need a CDL to get one of the things around an end cap without taking half the display off with the nose of it. If and when the oh-so-cute little squeaky horns work, you can count on my kids to be madly pounding on them as fast and hard as possible just because they could. This particular store had upgraded their carts. The baskets now had two seats and the noses were shorter. Now, there was an added choice. The fire truck or the cop car. We got stuck with the cop car.
Enter, Sound Effects Boy. Ever since Tony first learned to push a vehicle he has made the most amazingly realistic sound effects I have heard since that one guy on the Police Academy movies. Apparently, as soon as the automatic doors slid open we were in hot pursuit of some serious traffic offenders. After I pretty much had to scream at him to USE HIS INSIDE VOICE AND KEEP THE SIRENS DOWN!!! we were off to our shopping.
Another thing the sadistic punk who designed these carts failed to take into consideration was that no age is too young for road rage. Keep in mind who these children have learned their driving skills from. Between their Dad and I you get a combination of Bobcat Goldthwaite and Mario Andretti. This became embarrassingly clear to me as we rounded the corner into produce and a woman crossed in front of us. Tony, sirens blazing and Bryn, laying on that squeaky horn for all it's worth bellowing at the top of her little lungs;
" GET OFF THE DAMNED ROAD!!!!"
I vowed then and there if I ever met the son of a bitch who made these carts I would kick him right in the crotch.
After my stern rebuke and some in yer face threats of imminent doom, Bryn kept her more colorful vernacular confined to under the breath mutterings. I hoped the waving hand gestures I caught now and again out of the corner of my eye were just for emphasis and not sign language. Hannah offered to push the cart for me to help. I caught the occasional wild driving maneuver out of the corner of my eye, but it was mostly to keep Bonny and Clyde entertained.
Tony's siren's had quieted and I could hear him dialoging his Cops storyline behind me as I perused the apples. Apparently the bad guys were in sight and the bust was about to go down. It sounded like things were heating up. Just then, a pair of hands began patting my legs down as I was suddenly being read the Tony version of my Miranda Rights which went something like;
"Alright Bad Guy! We've got you and you are UNDER ARREST! You have to come to jail RIGHT NOW because you are a TROUBLE!"
Apparently they take apple selection as a very serious offense in Officer Tony's jurisdiction. It was about this time that baby Erin, who had been sort of griping and squawking about having to sit in the basket and not get to drive like the bigger kids began to edge up the decibel levels of her whining. Hannah began to do little cornering maneuvers to either entertain her or maybe knock her unconscious should she whack her head on the side of the cart. I grabbed the largest bottle of wine off the shelf I could find and seriously considered seeing if I could have it finished by the time we reached the registers.
Hannah drives a little like her mother and after trying to wipe out a few end caps, have a head on with a 92 year old lady and rear ending me into the meat case we were ready to go. Erin's squawks could no longer be ignored and Tony and Bryn were trying to gnaw through the basket to get to the food. I think I got most of what I came in for, but since Erin had eaten half the shopping list it was hit and miss. I just needed to get these kids out NOW BEFORE I LOS MY FRIGGIN MIND!!!!!
Car cart safely parked and Tony proclaiming next time he wanted to ride in the fire truck while I hissed "Over my dead body!" under my breath we made it out. Offloading into the van, everyone in their seatbelts I caromed out of that parking lot flattening the curb trying to two-wheel it as I merged with traffic. Some maniac turned across traffic in front of me to get to the store aiming for the parking space I had just vacated.
"You jackass!" I yelled, giving him the bird, "Where the hell'd you learn to drive?!"
Yeah. Those cart designers had NO idea what they were letting loose on the world when they made those damn carts. None.