Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Joy of Four Wheeled Shopping Carts.

I happen to live in the USA, but it was not always thus. For the first 30 odd years of my life I lived in the UK, where all 4 wheels on shopping carts are free to rotate.

On moving to the United States, I found that the miserable, cheapskate supermarket owners fitted their shopping carts with fixed wheels on the back and rotatable wheels on the front.

Now any schoolchild who's done basic physics knows the principle of mechanical advantage. Trying to steer a cart by moving the wheels at the front left or right, by applying torque to the handle at the back doesn't give you much of it, mechanical advantage that is. Turning corners in US supermarkets is more an issue of muscle than finesse.

So some 8 year years after landing in this fair-but-politically-dumb continent, I wandered into the local IKEA with wife and sprog in tow, to find genuine Euro style shopping carts with all 4 wheels rotatable. Shopping was fun again. I could glide the cart around corners. I could push it sideways, I could steer with one hand and best of all, I could laugh internally at the native USAians stuggling to comprehend the new found degrees of freedom offered by thier shopping appliance.

The meatballs were good also.

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