The saying “desperate times calls for desperate measures” is attributed the ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates, he of the Hippocratic Oath (pron. Hippo-Crates according to the Most Excellent Dictionary of Dudisms).

Inspired by Hippocrates and encouraged by my wife, I took a trip to the grocery store a full week into a recent quite painful sciatica episode. The desperate measure would be using one of those courtesy motorized shopping carts (MSC). I swore I’d never use one. But I did need to get out of the house.

When we got to the store, I was a little apprehensive at first, and said I didn’t need to use it. But after about 3 steps of trying to wheel the shopping cart, I realized my wife was correct (aren’t they always) and I hobbled back with my cane and jumped, er slithered behind the wheel, well there’s no actual wheel, just these bars like on a bicycle. Anyhow, I gingerly boarded the MSC.

If you have never ridden one of these, it’s kinda easy to get the hang of. There are just 2 switches. Up is forward. Down is reverse. It pretty much comes to a halt when neither switch is employed.

I tested it out and found when you flip the switch down for reverse, it makes a screeching BEEP BEEEP BEEEP BEEP sound over and over again. I quickly flipped the switch to up after startling 2 people in aisle one.

The MCS handles pretty well, unless you need to make a very sharp turn or if you are trying to get past a gaggle of shoppers trying to decide which brand of breakfast cereal to buy. This process apparently takes 3-5 minutes while the horde hovers across the entire aisle saying things like, “Cap’n Crunch is the best” and “No, it’s Fruit Loops that rules.”

They were oblivious to me since the MCS sits lower that an average person’s body height and my “excuse me’s” fell on deaf ears as I kindly beseeched them to move. Then I remembered —“reverse.” I downshifted and BEEP BEEEP BEEEP BEEP they all scattered and for a brief moment, nobody was cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs anymore. I upshifted and scooted through the wake.

Being lower to the ground than usual, I noticed things I’d never seen before on the bottom shelves. While it’s not that different, I did find an obscure hot sauce that I hadn’t seen before.

Overall, I conquered the Grand Prix of Kroger’s with success. I didn’t knock over any end displays, I ran into no fellow shoppers, I made a pretty tight turnaround to retrieve some ginger ale and actually found a sale on chicken breasts.

My wife went through the check-out line and I motored over to the cart corral just as an elderly gentleman shuffled in with his walker.

I wheeled over to him and I asked, “Did you want to use this one? It ran like a champ for me. It’s still got a good charge on.”

He lit up and accepted, adding, “Thanks, not many people appreciate the hardships handicapped face.” He affixed his walker to a hook on the front of the cart and was on his way.

I learned two things that day. 1) Never be afraid to try something new. 2) Show a little extra consideration for the handicapped and the daily struggles they face. Don’t take their parking spots. Don’t use their stalls. And give them a break if they’re moving a little slower. One day, that may be you.

FOOTNOTE: For another Wedwand shopping cart experience, please check out this rerun from a magical cart experience posted on May 1, 2013: