It embarrassing, it feels like we're littering. Yes, that's what it feels like. It feels like we're throwing a styrofoam hotdog carton full of residual mustard & ketchup on the ground when there's a trashcan just 25 feet away. It doesn't feel like we're doing what we're actually doing: hastily and awkwardly hoisting a grocery cart onto the curb and grass periphery at Whole Foods, hoping that one of the following two things happen:
a) an employee sees you, smiles and runs over to take the cart and return it to its friends at the entrance
b) you stash your cart at the curb and no one sees you
Whenever I commit this social faux pas – which is about twice month – I'm always afraid I'll be confronted by some OCD Whole Foods patron. Here's how I imagine such a confrontation would go:
anal Whole Foods patron: 'Um, you can't just park grocery carts on the curb like that. Why can't you put it in a cart return stall like everyone else? There's one just over there!'
The anal Whole Foods patron points to a barren cart return stall that's 30 feet away.
parent of a toddler: 'First of all, not everyone returns their carts the stall. Second of all, I have a baby in the car and you're not supposed to leave your baby in the car*. Everyone knows that.'
anal Whole Foods patron: 'You could've put your groceries in your car and then wheeled the cart to the stall with your baby in it, then carried your child back to your car.'
parent of a toddler: 'I see your point, and I certainly thought of that. It's just, she's nearing that 40 pound mark, and I just paid $5 for a cantaloupe. Doesn't Whole Foods' healthy profit margin entitle me to the occasional curbside grocery cart pickup, especially when it's for the noble cause of child safety?'
anal Whole Foods patron: 'No.'
If this long-anticipated/imaginary confrontation in the parking lot gives you anxiety, you might want to make a pit stop at Whole Foods' Bar Alto for a drop of something cheerful before you head out. Grab the toddler a cookie or one of those squeezy apple sauce pouches from aisle 2 to munch on while you have a glass of sauvignon blanc.
There are several bar-height tables and chairs, so you can leave the kid in the cart and pull it up next to you. They switch up their wine by the glass offerings often; lately they've been serving a French white bordeaux that I fancy, it's made by 'Les Hauts de Bel Air'. A glass of wine at Whole Foods' Bar Alto is $5 unless you come between 5-7pm, in which case a glass will only set you back $4. That's $4 well spent if it helps us to calm down and realize that most people – especially those with toddlers in tow – prop their grocery carts up on the curb from time to time.
Bar Alto at Highland Park
Open Daily, Noon until 10 pm
4100 Lomo Alto Dr
Highland Park, TX 75219
* Everyone knows this and yet there's always some woman who leaves her kid in the car in the middle of summer; my theory is she's just not that into her kid.
Paige Darrah is a freelance travel and culture writer based in Dallas, TX. She is a ‘Top Contributor’ for BubbleLife, contributes to publications like D Magazine, and blogs at Poppy Adventures.