Sunday, November 25, 2007

Shopping Carts

I know, it's a strange topic, however, it deserves to be mentioned.

A shopping cart is something you just never really study or think about - it just works, usually. Sure we've all had the cart with the bad wheel, or the string stuck in the wheel, but in general, you push, they go, you fill, you unload, you reload in bags, you unload again at the car, you return it to the proper place (maybe) and you're on your way. Never taking the time to stop and study the cart - or appreciate it's simplicity.

But then you arrive in a strange land, with strange shopping carts. You see, the first few times we went to the grocery store, I found the shopping carts impossible to control. They look the same, so what was it that was making these darn things so incredible difficult to manage? And why does every Dane pushing a shopping cart through the parking lot appear to be stuck in the middle of hurricane force winds? No one heads straight to their car with confidence. Everyone has an unseen force tilting the cart to a 35-40 degree angle from their legs, resulting in a throng of sideways leaning cart drivers attempting desperately not to clip the back end of every car they pass.

While it is quite windy in Denmark, the poor shopping cart driving ability of the danes cannot be blamed on wind alone. This was bothering me greatly. Until it hit me - American shopping carts have two wheels that swivel, and two that do not. For the life of me I cannot remember if it's the front wheels or the back wheels that do the driving, but I know that two of them point straight ahead at all times. A Danish shopping cart, on the other hand, has 4 swiveling wheels. What this means is that, in theory, you can spin yourself around and around in a very small turning radius. What it also means is that you can never point straight ahead - ever. The wheels take over, they posess the cart.. you try to move forward, but your cart is instead heading down the aisle beside you - perhaps it hears the chocolate calling from aisle 3.

In a country known world-wide for its functional design, I'm simply stumped as to why the Danes have not yet redesigned the shopping cart so that it can actually push forward in a straight line. But then again, if a Dane redesigned the shopping cart, it would then be made of wood and stainless steel, have a designer name on it, and be sold for more than the total value of the products one were to place within it. So I guess I have my answer.


  1. Oh, but I *love* these carts! I feel like I'm driving a big ol' Zamboni on ice when I push one! Don't forget that you must have a 10 kr ($2) or 20 kr ($4) coin with you to deposit into the unlock-slot, or else you're using a hand basket. And you nailed it when you said a Danish cart redesign would cost far more than the contants of it... Ha! And why is it that no Danish shopping carts wind up in ditches, down alleys, or strewn across the parking lot?

  2. YOu need some American shopping carts!

  3. Hhaha I have had similar problems in many countries. I honestly think they do this so that people can't be bothered to steal them!

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