Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Cart-washing blog.

Usually, I won’t bore my handful of readers with the contents of my dreams, but early this morning I woke up with a peculiar afterthought to a dream that I don’t remember: a pun. Desert guard duty: a waste is a terrible thing to mind.

Not a bad pun, considering my unconscious came up with it. That was a 4 a.m. or so dream. Just before waking for the day, I dreamed I was visiting Australia again, right on the Tasman Sea. Now that was disappointing to wake from.

This evening, I went to Dominick’s Finer Foods -- a formerly local grocery store, now owned by Safeway. I was on a man’s errand. Get a few things, get out. I looked down at the shopping cart, and saw a label pasted on it that said (roughly) “For your protection, this cart was sanitized by the Cart Washing Co.,” which had a local area code to its phone number. I inspected the cart, and it did seem clean enough, though it was clearly an elder cart, a patriarch among the cart clans. Rust around certain parts of the structure betrayed its age.

It’s the kind of detail that I like. Unless the label is a hoax -- an artist’s idea of mocking the grocery-store paradigm or something -- somewhere out in the 847 area code, there’s a company that specializes in washing grocery store carts. It may be one among several in this country. They might have a trade association and an industry magazine. Perhaps they use marketing material that claims that grocery shoppers prefer clean carts and buy more with them, on average. What kind of machinery do they use? A big Hobart, or a small car wash? Who thought of this? Is it a barely surviving industry, or are three generations of some anonymous families living in plenty because of it?

I suppose I could find out some of this. I do have some reporting skills. Namely, I know how to pick up the phone and ask questions. But I think I’d rather leave this one alone. The Bob Greenes of the world can look into it.


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