My dream job would be to work as a Professional Creative Idea Thinker Upper. It really wouldn't even matter who I worked for as long as they had a constant need for creative ideas and were willing to pay me however much I determine my priceless ideas to be worth. I don't necessarily want to be the one to carry out those ideas, but maybe just over see them to make sure they're are executed according to my vision.
One industry that is in desperate need of my services is the grocery store industry or their grocery cart management systems, to be more precise. I bought groceries today and was once again mildly irritated at how inconvenient it is to deal with my cart. Locating one to shop with usually isn't a problem but getting rid of it when I'm done is another story. Okay, it's not exactly a problem but it can be inconvenient and I'm all about my own convenience.
As I was cramming all of my purchases into the back of my car this afternoon, I mentally revisited my solution for the grocery cart problems that I have spent an unhealthy amount of time thinking about. The problems I'm referring to are the inconveniently located cart return stations, or lack there of, as well as the abandoned cart issue despite the location of the aforementioned cart stations.
I really do try to put my grocery cart into the nearest cart return station when I'm done with it, but sometimes there are extenuating circumstances that prevent this...or at least make it inconvenient enough for me to not even try.
The most common of those circumstances is weather. If it's raining I do sometimes abandon my cart, although I try to do it politely like the picture on the right. It's not ideal, but at least by parking it on the curb you have lessened the chances of damage due to a rogue cart.
On occasion I have been known to just plain ditch the cart between the cars but I usually only do this if there are no cart return stations, the stations are full or inconveniently located, the weather is really bad, or I'm having an attack of IBS that's causing some serious prairie doggin' and I gotta get home NOW.
Even though I don't place my cart in its designated return location 100% of the time, I do make an effort and I hope that I would never be as inconsiderate as the people in these next pictures.
I would never leave a cart where it blocked a parking space because when I'm the one looking for a place to park and I see carts taking up good spaces, I become temporarily homicidal.
Okay, seriously? Was the plastic cup in the way? Was it taking up so much space that the cart just wouldn't fit? Did the shopper think that was the Cup Return Station because it wasn't clearly marked?
My solution for these catastrophic shopping cart problems is really quite simple and I'm surprised no one has thought of it before. Or, as with most of my ideas, someone probably already has and I'm not aware of it. Just call me The Day Late And Dollar Short Girl.
Envision this: A grocery store parking lot where every parking space has its own cart return area. Actually it would be one Cart Return Station for every 2 spaces since the station would be between 2 opposite facing spaces. So the cars would still be parked next to each other, but instead of nose to nose, that area between them would be for the Cart Return Station.
I know. It's freaking brilliant. But it gets even better.
My yet-to-be-patented cart return system would work similar to a bowling ball return thingie.
After you've unloaded your groceries you would place your cart on a special platform that detects the cart's presence and lowers it underground to the completely mechanized cart holding area. This sophisticated area made up of a complex system of computerized sensors and conveyors would keep 2 carts at the ready for each Cart Return Station at all times. When the next person pulls into your space, they would push a button and their cart would immediately be lifted up from underground and placed on the platform, ready to use.
What happens if someone abandons their cart, despite my ultra convenient system? Those carts would still have to be fetched manually but they can be returned to any Cart Return Station. This can be done by store employees, we don't want to completely eliminate the bag boys, or it can even be done by a considerate shopper who just wants to help make the grocery shopping experience as pleasant as possible for everyone.
You heard me right. Everyone gets a clean, dry grocery cart.
This higher end model would also include covered walkways which would definitely increase the store's sales on inclement weather days. In some markets, primarily in the Northwest, there would be an option to contract with Starbuck's to have a completely computerized coffee station at every Cart Return Station. This feature would come with an app you could download that has a modified GPS system that lets your cell phone interface with the coffee station nearest to your car. That way you could use your phone to select and purchase the type of coffee you want. You would send your order to the coffee station and by the time you get out of your car, your hot coffee would be waiting there for you.
The only drawback to my uber cool and sophisticated Cart Return System is that it would be slightly expensive upfront. The underground area would have state of the art computerized mechanisms that are virtually maintenance free, but you would have to consider the cost of putting it underground, then the operating costs such as electricity and...uumm...oil or something. Not to mention the fact that someone sort of has to completely design, build and program it but those are minor details. Besides, it would more than pay for itself in the long run in the convenience it would offer shoppers like me.
And that's what counts.