Normally, the grocery store is not a cause for a weblog column. Today, however, it is. Last night I went for the usual, run-of-the-mill trip to the store, located in the heart of Porter Square in Cambridge, MA. Other than having the single worst parking lot in the history of mankind, this store is like any other grocery store, you go in, do your biz, and escape with minimal harm. There were two occurences last night, however, that I feel I need to make the public aware of.

First off, while inside the grocery store exploring the offerings, I came across the Goldfish section, which as you know could be the best snack cracker ever presented to the masses. Well, upon further examination of the Goldfish area, I noticed a new offering from the Fish-people, and that was “Colored Goldfish.” Colored Goldfish? Were my eyes deceiving me or were these snack crackers now offered in blues, reds and greens? My beloved, traditional Goldfish cracker company was selling their souls to the new generation to try and get them to buy crackers by adding color? An abomination, I say. It’s a sure sign of one thing: the apocolypse. Goldfish crackers should always be that yellowish-tannish color and never – ever – deviate. Thankfully, they still offer the normal colors for us traditionalists.

Calming down and getting my breath back, I checked out and went outside with my groceries and my cart, when I ran smack dab into a big sign which informed me that Shaw’s Supermarkets has now placed yellow lines around the entire parking lot and that they’ve installed technology where once a shopping cart is taken beyond those yellow lines, the cart will automatically lock up. I thought this had to be a joke. How is that even possible? Well, I was about to find out.

I was doggedly determined to prove Shaw’s wrong by taking the care outside their property. They couldn’t fool me with some sign proclaiming a mysterious Jetson-esque technology to automatically stop a shopping cart. I look around, and sure enough, just to my left about 50 feet away is the daunting yellow line. It’s daring me – calling my name to come try it out and see if I can skirt the long arm of the Shaw’s law. So even though I have a car and there’s positively no need to take the cart off the grounds, off I go, in pursuit of the challenge to defy my pessimism. I race to just before the yellow line, pause, and picture myself crossing the line and having lasers come from the roof and freeze me in time. Or make me bald. Or have loud sirens wail. After pausing momentarily, I cross the line. Nothing happens. I move another six inches and I hear a click, and sure enough, the damn cart stops dead in its tracks. I try to push – nothing. I try to pull it backwards to see if it will “unlock” – no dice. I cannot move it. It is at this point I begin to laugh out loud and examine the cart. Surely the people around me, particularly one woman on a bike watching me, thinks I am a complete, certified maniac, which I very well may be. I slowly walked away from the cart, mystified and amazed that they have the power to remotely stop shopping carts and pondering the next wave of preventive technology for the brutal crime of removing shopping carts. Amazing.

Song now playing: Elliot Smith – “Bled White”