Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Bread Basket

Shopping Carts
(All Pictures Taken With My Palm Pilot)

Once the symbol of American Prosperity, they are now the icon of its decline.

In the old days, they were filled with Fruit Loops, glass bottles of milk, Ovaltine, large heads of lettuce and a toddler riding in the fold-away seat.

Today they are the conveyance of the down trodden, the homeless and the mentally ill. They are the automobile with a trunk for those that can't afford a car. Like the numerous check cashing stores and greedy politicians, they are easy to overlook until you start seeing things with a critical eye.

I first started noticing them a couple of months ago near my home. Abandoned, like lost puppies far from their litter. They sat forlorn on the street corner, overturned in my yard, pushed up against the curb on a busy downtown throughway. I started to ask that age old question, 'why'? Why were they there and how did they get there.

The answer seemed obvious but it has variations. People had to move things around and had no other option.

In the suburbs, it seemed likely that someone had a large family but no vehicle to drive to Safeway or Albertsons or Piggly Wiggly. When Jose is off putting up a new roof on the job site the little ones still need their pampers and tortillas so Rosita takes the long walk to the supermarket with their 6 kids in tow and then makes the long push back home. Once there, why push an empty cart all the way back the 3 miles you just walked? Just push it into the alley.

For the urban carts left downtown, the story appears a bit different. This is the transient's mobile home. This is the conveyance that they use to pick up the metal cans to be exchanged for money at the recycler. This is where they carry their bed roll and spare shoes pilfered from a dumpster. This is the cart that holds what is left of their shattered lives.

Even though the American Dream has failed them, they still cling to the concept that material possession is a form of wealth. They haul their throw-away trinkets around in a stolen four wheeled shopping cart to remind themselves that they still have some form of value.

All of these shopping carts were photographed miles from the nearest grocery store. There has to be a medical term for the precursor to cancer. That word would apply to these shopping carts. Regardless if they are urban or suburban, if the American Dream is a living breathing organism, these are the precursor to societal cancer.