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Monica Bielanko
A chronicle since 2005 of my marriage & move to Brooklyn in my twenties; becoming a mother in my thirties; moving to Pennsylvania and learning to amicably coparent after divorce in my forties while living 3 doors down from my ex-husband in a small country town.
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Thursday
Jun072012

Riding Along In My Shopping Cart

I drove Violet to her little YMCA class this morning and then stopped at Dunkin Donuts for coffee and some kind of egg, bagel, sausage type item because suddenly I was so hungry I started thinking hateful thoughts about innocent strangers strolling the streets this fine morning. I pulled over in the first parking lot I came to after exiting the Dunkin Donuts drive-thru so I could inhale my stuff and it turned out to be the McDonald's parking lot. I ate guiltily, as if the McDonald's Police could show up at any moment and tell me to move along with my illegal Dunkin Donuts paraphernalia.

Then I decided to do a bit of work for Babble at this coffee shop near the Y and realized I'd have to order something so I wouldn't appear to be an internet freeloading asshole and for some reason, instead of simply ordering a small coffee I panicked at the last second and ordered ANOTHER egg, bagel type sandwich which, of course, I polished off with no problem even though hunger had long since left the building.

The ordering mishap wasn't even my first panic of the morning either. I had panicked five minutes before that when attempting to parallel park in front of the coffee shop while some coffee customers stood outside smoking and watching with what I imagined to be great amusement. I gave up the parking attempt (Parallel parking is a mindfuck of epic proportions for me. It's all mathematical angles and carefulness - two things at which I have never excelled) and found a stall farther down the road. This is the kind of nutcase I am. I imagine everyone is watching me, evaluating my moves, my choices, when in reality nobody gives a shit, they've got their own stuff going on.

I've been thinking a lot lately, who knows why, about the weird stuff we each do, weird little rituals that we probably do without thought because we've done them for so long that the weirdness no longer occurs to us. Here's one of mine: for nearly twenty years now I have been riding the shopping cart (Kind of like I'm riding a scooter: one leg on the bottom of the cart and one leg pumping the ground for speed) every time I leave the grocery store. Some people are compelled to wash their hands a hundred times a day or turn lights on and off or maybe they have to touch the ceiling of the car every time they drive across train tracks (I had a friend in high school who did that) but I must ride the shopping cart like a scooter immediately upon exiting the store.

It started when I was 16 or 17 and had moved out of my mom's house for the first time. It was, like, my first solo shopping trip and I felt all fancy and free after paying for my own groceries so as I wheeled the cart laden with my very own food out of the store I picked up the pace a little, pumping the ground like I was riding a skateboard and then hopped up on the cart with both feet and steered it to my car in celebration of freedom and buying my own groceries, I guess.

I did it again the next time I went shopping and again and again and again. It became a thing. A thing I MUST do or else I really don't know if I could load my groceries in the car and drive away. Seriously. Sometimes I'll be feeling a little under the weather, literally, like, maybe it's raining or something and I just don't feel like hopping up on the cart and riding it to my car but I do it anyway. And sometimes, if it's just a few half-hearted pumps of my foot it doesn't feel good enough and I have to do it again to get it right. Serge knows to abdicate cart pushing as we exit the store so that I can execute my maneuver. Sometimes I'll just grab the cart for a few seconds and do a few quick pumps with my foot and give the cart back, more of a nod to the fact that I MUST do this thing as opposed to it being something I actually enjoy. But most of the time doing this thing, this shopping cart thing, offers me some relief or something. It's hard to describe but it's almost like burping. It's not a major deal but once you do it you feel a little better, you know?

Things got a little dicey in the latter months of both pregnancies and still, I always managed to ride the cart for a couple steps, at least. I've had to do it with Henry strapped in the Bjorn and Violet riding in the cart or with Henry in his car seat in the cart and Violet riding in the basket and groceries overflowing everywhere and yet it MUST BE DONE. This is a thing I do. I don't know why. I just do it. I figure I'll be 90 and riding my shopping cart to my car unless there are, like, flying shopping carts or electronic shopping carts at that point and then I don't know what I'll do.

My shopping cart riding compulsion got me to wondering what weird things you do that probably don't seem weird to you anymore. C'mon, whatdya got? I won't make fun, I mean, yeesh, I ride shopping carts like a lunatic every single time I leave a store pushing a cart.

**By the way, I'm going to pick a winner from that whole free-stay-at-an-inn-near-my-house-in-the-country thing tomorrow.

Reader Comments (31)

I can not go to sleep unless the bedroom closet doors are completely closed. Dresser drawers too. And I'm not even a clean freak. Even if I'm almost completely passed out (from alcohol or just tiredness) I will ask my fiancee to please get up and close the doors.

June 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBonnieLee

Your post made me smile - my 23 year old daughter rides the shopping cart just as you do! Watching her fly across the parking lot with abandon is just so cool! I have to have all the light switches in the same position - we have multiple switches in each doorway that control the same ceiling lights. I CANNOT turn them on at one door, and then off at the other, because then the switches won't match (they all must be up or down, but never a combination of the two at the switchplate! My children, when younger, love to mess with me by getting them all mixed up, and then would watch with amusement as I would go from door to door to get the switches back in order. I just can't relax until they are "correct". OCD much?

Wonky quirks of Kim- 1) paper towels must be coming out facing the left from our vertical paper towel holder. My husband saw me changing the direction once and asked what I was doing. I told him he had put them on the wrong way and I was fixing them. He gave me a funny look. All I could say was, "I know. It's why I don't ask you to do it too." 2) the key, if left in the front door, must be left in a "neutral" position, i.e., straight up and down. It cannot be left turned to the left or right. My neurotic behavior her rubbed off on my husband. His mom came to visit and I caught him scolding her for leaving the key in the wrong position. HA!

There are plenty more, but in an effort to make myself not look like an OCD lunatic, I'll just leave it at those two.

June 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKim Q

I'm a nurse and even if I've just used hand sanitizer, I will hit up every wall-mounted hand sanitizer that I walk past. I'm sure my patients appreciate the over-zealous way that I prevent nosocomial infections but my poor hands!

June 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKaty E

I would like photos of the cart-riding, please. :)

Also, I would like to stay in an inn near your house. I'd even be willing to pay to do so, if we can hang out. Because, clearly, this NEEDS to happen. xo

June 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersweetney

I'm sure I do some crazy stuff, because I'm totally OCD, but all I can think about right now is how impressed I am by your bravery to ride the cart like that. I won't do it because I'm convinced that it's going to do a wheelie and fly up and knock me out.

June 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterlydia

The toilet paper roll must be arranged so the squares are facing out. I cannot stand it when they are facing into the wall - CANNOT STAND IT!!! My OCD number is 3 so I flick the water off my freshly washed hands three times, after I count to 30 while washing them. I count in threes when I am nervous. I have to have 3 coats of nail polish...If I do a base coat and then I need 2 coast of color then no top coat. 3 coats only.

Oh and I chew all my food, even applesauce, pudding, ice cream, and jello must be chewed.

June 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterREK

The toilet paper needs to come over the top never behind. I have been known to fix it in other people's houses as well because CLEARLY they meant to put it on the right way. Had to have been an accident because how could anyone stand it any other way? Shirts need to be folded with the logo etc. facing out and jeans or pants with the front folded in so that the back of them are on the outside. Clothes on hangers need to have the fronts facing the left, never the right. I get weird looks and comments from the hubby all the time about various things that I do. There's so many I couldn't possibly remember or list them all here. I think it's safe to say you are far from alone in your OCD like tendencies.

June 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMary

I have to have the volume on an even number. The TV, the car radio, etc. My current car does not have numbers, and it drives me nuts. I have to have two towels for when I get out of the shower: one for my face & hair, and one for the rest of my body. If anyone uses my face towel I can't use it again until it is washed.

June 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRobyn

Ride, Mon-i, Ride!

I am still riding shopping carts ( @ 5-0)...anyway, whenever riding along as a passenger, front or back seat, and as we are passing roadside obstacles I will move my lower jaw or shoulders slightly to the left and then back in alignment as if to avoid certain impact. Been doing it for years. Mailboxes, garbage cans, trees, telephone poles, pedestrians, bikes, whatever, I will do the jaw or shoulder thing to 'go around' them. No one notices, of course, and I don't discuss it at the moment. If there is more than one item in 'my way', I will attempt to avoid them individually, however if there is not time enough to do so, I will keep my jaw or shoulders in a sustained left hold position. Not as fun as riding the carts, but thrilling just the same, and quite necessary, it seems.

June 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGina

I may have a few quirks, but I guess they are my coping mechanisms.

1. I air type conversations that I overhear, that I'm involved in, and those that I hear on TV. In between dialogue on TV or a movie, I will start quickly "typing" the time on the cable box or "VIZIO". My fingers are constantly air typing or typing against my thumb. No one has ever mentioned it to me, so I'm not sure that its been noticed.
2. I also twist my lip and rub it against the top one when I think no one is around.
3. Everyday when I get home from work I take my shoes off and let my feet air-out a bit. Then, I proceed to rub my finger around each of my toe nails (making sure not to miss the top of the nail).

June 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKC

At night i get ready for bed..brush teeth, wash face, pee. get into bed, read for a bit and then i have to pee again. Even if it's only been 20 minutes. Peeing has to be the last thing i do before falling asleep. I'm 31 not 80.

June 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercharity

What a fun post. And honest. And quirky. It is funny how these things become so much a part of us that we don't think about them anymore. I thought I had an original one until I read KC's post. Yep. I air type, too. Everything. Big words and long sentences are a challenge, especially since I have to backspace and delete when I make a mistake. And shift for those caps and hit the space bar five times to begin a new paragraph. I'm a walking stenographer. Or dictographer. Or something like that.

June 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMelinda

I "knock wood" on my forehead. I have taken on my mother's superstitious nature...Anytime anyone says something like"I never get sick" or "I will never get in an accident" or anything like that I have to "knock wood" Also anytime anyone leaves my presence to drive some where I have to say "Drive safe" It really causes me anxiety not to say it. Like if someone got in an accident after I didnt say it...the accident would be my fault. If someone leaves and I say "drive safe" and then comes back b/c they forgot something I have to say it again. If I think they will think I am weird for saying it again I will whisper or mouth it...and then probably knock wood too :) For real. My fiance loves to mess with me. Always saying stuff like I'm going to be fine or that will never happen...he says I will give myself a concussion ;) I dont really knock that hard ;)

June 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

I thought I was the only grown up who rode the shopping cart! It embarrasses the hell out of my twelve year old. I love that you do it too! The other things I do without thinking twice are breaking out in song randomly and talking in funny voices - usually impressions. My family has learned to co exist. Girl, I can't believe you can polish off two breakfast sandwiches in all your wonderful svelte ness.

I have a few OCD habits too... and like others here I HAVE to have the toilet paper over the top, not going behind! And yes will change this in other people's homes, my god how can they handle the paper going behind lol. Also after washing up I have to have the dishcloths and everything else put in their place. If my hubby washes and leaves the cloth somewhere else, i have to move it to its spot. God I sound crazy :) I also cant stand my cushions (from my loungeroom) on the floor, im always picking them up and putting them back on the lounge where they belong!

June 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBelinda

I sorta hate not re-entering a room I didn't walk from the first time. For example, if I walk into a room that has two entrances I like two walk back the same way I come from.
I'm not super nutty about it, but its a little bit of a drag for a few seconds when I can't.

I also HATE when hand towels aren't straight. When you wipe your hands, how hard is it to straighten that shit? Seriously?

Also, I like the tp over, not under.

June 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJPB

Robyn-I have the same quirk. The tv volume should be on an even number!
I always enjoy pushing the shopping cart into the corral to make a big CRASH. Like a lunatic.
My other weird thing is wearing socks to bed 365 days of the year. I don't know why. If I don't, I'll wake up every hour with cold feet!

June 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCristin

The first half of this post, I could have written. The nonsensical overeating and the irrational fear of random strangers' thoughts.

Weird thing: I have nervous tics. I move my face so I look like the real life version of this -- :-\ I twitch my fingers and tap them in certain patterns only I know.

June 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCaitlin

I don t do it often but I love to ride the shopping cart like a scooter in the supermarket !
And I have also the same feeling with other watching me whereas they don t care at all what I am doing

June 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGuillaume

Monica - Your shopping cart rides sound like fun!

Sarah - I knock wood on my forehead, too. But then I also try to find a real piece of wood in case the knocking wood gods don't find my forehead sufficiently woody enough to ward off evil.

I arrange things on the grocery store check out conveyor belt according to what group it belongs in - dairy goes on first, fruits and veggies last. Meats all have to go together. Cleaning products go together. Etc. I don't even think it's that weird, but I get mad if my husband throws things on in random order: clearly meats should not go in the same bag as cleaning, because what if the Comet spills and I don't know it and then I'm eating Comet on my cold cuts? I also try to beat the cashier - I try to have everything bagged before she's done checking me out. I get intense anxiety if I'm still bagging and she's all done/we've already paid.

June 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKat

KC said: I air type conversations that I overhear, that I'm involved in, and those that I hear on TV.

Melinda said: I air type, too. Everything. Big words and long sentences are a challenge, especially since I have to backspace and delete when I make a mistake.

OMG, thank you, I thought I was the only one who did this! I air type CONSTANTLY - been doing it since I learned to type in 7th grade. I'm 54 now, and still air typing like my life depended on it... and sadly, I too correct my air typos. I'm very discreet though, lest people think I'm strange. Only one person (my husband) ever noticed it, and he just thought my fingertips were twitching. Apparently the man pays attention, eh? ;-)

June 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkimtisha

I check my teeth in a mirror constantly to see if food has gotten stuck. I'm pretty good at being discreet but it is definitely an obsession. I'll eat food; midway through the meal, check teeth; finish meal, check teeth. Doesn't matter where I am or whom I'm with, I find a way to do this every meal. Sitting at my desk; check teeth. Ever since my wisdom teeth shifted the rest out of line just a smidge, food gets caught sometimes. I just need to make a good salary and invest in having my teeth straightened back out again.

June 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThe K Spot

I count to myself every time I use stairs, sometimes in Spanish just to mix it up a bit (because I'm wild like that). I constantly adjust food that's in jars, boxes and cans so the labels are all facing neatly out, particularly in the refrigerator with the billion condiments we have in there. After my husband makes a sandwich I have been known to go neaten up the fridge, silently bemoaning the way we live like savages, labels all askew. The throw pillows on the living room window seat are carefully placed, never thrown, as I am a slave to symmetry. When we had a coffee table in the living room, we had three stacks of magazines on it that had to be of approximately the same height. I once tried putting the stacks at a jaunty angle (all three at the exact same jaunty angle, mind you), but that made me twitchy so I had to move them back to straight.
sigh...
And my husband wonders why I'm tired all the time.

June 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

With no particular place to go?

Sorry. I'm lame and songs are running through my head today.

June 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commenternina

http://carroyo0.protecturl.info

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterred

OK, the cart-riding is really cute, even though it's become a habit/thing. I love to ride a cart, but don't do it regularly. KC, Melinda and Kimtisha reminded me that I used to to the 'air typing' too!!! I would type whatever someone was saying on TV when I was a teenager--- I don't have any current tics, but have plenty of neuroses, believe me.

June 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

I look for triangles formed by the electric wires and count them.

June 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarie

This was SUCH a good read, well written, witty, and relateable. Thank you for sharing your quirky habits & asking us to share ours. I, too, swear to god everyone in the world is watching me & judging my every move. Drives my husband crazy. I can't fall asleep without both my hands touching my face & I say "Bless me!" after I sneeze every. single. time. Can't remember ever not doing it. The first time my (adoptive) dad heard me he said "Well, that's self sufficient."

June 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAce

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June 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAbout diabetes

Panicking and buying a second breakfast sandwich? So exactly the kind of thing I do. All. The. Time.

I have so very many tics and quirks. I won't go into them all or I'll be here all night. I count everything. All the time. Like if I hear someone hammering I count how many times it hits. Or how many stairs I climb. Some days it's worse than others but I often am incapable of stepping on cracks in the sidewalk, and will adjust my stride to try to hit each square the right way. I'm sure I look like a total tool doing this. I cannot have my hair inside my shirt or tucked into my coat or jacket. I spend forever trying to get the drawstrings on pants/hoodies to be the same length. I must brush my hair an even number of times.

I'm going to stop now.

And you people are all crazy, the tp is clearly meant to pull from the back.

June 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDani

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