69. Not Just for the Old and Homeless
“You want me to buy you what?” Ken asked Elizabeth. He was sure he hadn’t heard her correctly. Elizabeth had just moved in with Ken. She came to Los Angeles from New York City after a year of long distance dating. “I want you to buy me a shopping cart,” Elizabeth repeated. “In Los Angeles there are two types of people who use shopping carts. The homeless are one. They use shopping carts to carry their possessions. Old ladies are the second. They use it to carry their laundry back and forth, their groceries, and maybe even to sell tamales,” Ken explained.
Elizabeth felt insulted. “Are you saying I’m an old lady?” she asked. She then continued to explain that she didn’t want to rely on Ken to drive her to the supermarket or the laundromat. Elizabeth didn’t know how to drive, but she wanted to be self-sufficient. “Besides,” she continued, “in New York City everyone has a shopping cart, not just the homeless or old ladies.”
One afternoon when Elizabeth came home from work, there was a red shopping cart in the driveway. Ken had put a big red bow on it. “Do you like your new wheels?” Ken asked Elizabeth. She felt happy now that she could handle some chores on her own.
The next day she loaded the shopping cart with dirty clothes and set off to walk the three blocks to the nearest laundromat. This was not as easy as she thought. The sidewalks were uneven and the cart often got stuck, causing dirty socks to leap out of the cart. Elizabeth had to stop several times to pick up stray clothes. Then nearly every house between her house and the laundromat had a big dog that barked at her. Elizabeth hated big scary dogs.