Monday, November 25, 2019

The B&Q Shopping Cart Repatriation

For weeks now, this shopping cart (or "trolley," as the English say) has been sitting in a forgotten corner of Fortune Green, next to a wall at the dead-end of Ajax Street, behind the playground.

It's been sitting and sitting, filling up with leaves and trash. A week ago Sunday, while walking Olga, I took a closer look at it. It was from B&Q, a home supplies and hardware store, and there was a number on the handle to call if the cart turned up lost somewhere. The nearest B&Q store is in Cricklewood -- not exactly next door -- so I dialed the number.

A confused-sounding operator answered and said she would try to find out who I was supposed to call in order to report a lost cart.

"I'm supposed to call YOU," I told her. "I took this number right off the cart handle."

She put me on hold and went to consult someone about what to do with my clearly unusual call. Finally, after a few minutes, she came back and promised she would relay my message to the appropriate people.

A week passed. Saturday morning, walking past Fortune Green again, I looked to see if the cart was still there. Of course, it was. I tried to call B&Q again, but when I got through, another operator told me their systems were down and he couldn't take a report of a lost cart.

As you know, stray shopping carts are a pet peeve of mine. So yesterday morning, Olga and I decided to take care of the problem ourselves.

We retrieved the cart and set out for the B&Q in Cricklewood, rolling the rattling, clattering contraption beside us.

We rolled it along the footpath past the cemetery and the rugby fields.

We rolled it up the uneven sidewalks along Farm Avenue.

We rolled it along busy Cricklewood Lane, and beneath the train tracks that carry the Thameslink trains into London.

And finally, 1.1 miles later -- according to Google Maps -- we deposited the cart in its homeland, B&Q. I parked it next to a door where other carts were clustered. Job done!

We passed several people on the sidewalks during this adventure, but no one gave us so much as a second glance, which surprised me. I thought we made quite a spectacle. But I suppose in the grand scheme of things, a 50-ish bald guy with a rattling shopping cart and a staffy isn't that unusual in London.

Olga insisted on walking back along Cricklewood Broadway (chicken bones!) before settling in for a quiet afternoon of recovery on the couch.

I, on the other hand, had to zip out to see Dave's high school students perform their winter concert. It's early this year -- last year it was Dec. 9. That put a bit more pressure on the kids by depriving them of a couple of weeks more rehearsal time, but they did well! One of the pieces they performed was called "Endless Rainbows," a title that Dave mocked relentlessly -- in fact, he sampled the piece online on a lark, expecting it to be syrupy and awful, and was surprised to find it's actually good.

Oh, and I finished "The Story of Harold." I remain underwhelmed.


  1. Well done you.
    A good way of having a different walk route as well and see new places

  2. I bet you would have gotten some looks had you put Olga in her pink blanket in the cart :D

    Or maybe not??

  3. I reported a trolley ( Waitrose) that was at the back of a car park about a year ago. Weeks later it was still there...probably still is but I don't use that car park anymore! I thought that they cost quite a lot and the shop would be glad to get them back.

  4. Yes, lost shopping trolleys are my pet peeve too. I have taken more than one stray trolley back to base in the last few years--only to have my blood boil when I see people merrily marching off from the supermarket carpark, pushing a trolley filled with their shopping, through streets and parks to where they live, there to abandon said trolley again. Grrrrr!

  5. If Olga had been riding in the trolley, passers-by might have stopped you and said, "Do they sell any other dogs at B&Q or just Staffies? Can you get squirrels there too?"

    P.S. The French call shopping trolleys chariots!

  6. Only you, Steve! Only you would have returned that cart. You're a good man.

  7. I think it was quite nice of you and Olga to walk the shopping cart back to it's rightful place. Not many folks do this. I agree, you're a good man! You have a super day, hugs, Edna B.

  8. Wow, that is a long way to roll one of those carts down the street. Good for you for doing that. That happens to be a pet peeve of mine too. There is a Safeway store just a block away from me and those carts end up all over my apartment complex. I find that so irritating.
    That piece of music is beautiful!

  9. I love your shopping cart story and the visual documentation of this journey. You and Olga are quite the team. Good job. You are a true mensch.

  10. Here, the bums use shopping carts. They just leave them when they are finished with them. It's a big problem here not a one man job.

  11. I love the Journey of the Shopping Cart! You're such a good (if slightly cranky) person :)

  12. You are a mensch, even if underwhelmed!

  13. Seeing YP's NZ they are called trundlers

  14. your pictures made me think of those photos when someone steals/borrows a yard gnome and then takes pictures of it in many different places and sends them to the owner.

  15. "Always do the right thing. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest." Can't remember who made that quote but it popped into my head when I read of your good deed. Anyway, I feel sure Olga loved all the smells of a new adventure.

  16. GZ: Absolutely! We've done that Cricklewood walk in the past, but I can honestly say I've never been to the parking lot of B&Q before this!

    Jenny-O: If only I'd been thinking ahead!

    Frances: When I worked in retail we were told the carts were worth about $100 each. (And that was 35 years ago!) You'd think they'd work harder to hang on to them. I suppose a solution takes more than a week to wind its way through the byzantine inner workings of the B&Q call center -- if it ever does.

    David: In American cities stores often have a row of bollards or other barriers outside to prevent people from taking the carts. Seems like a good idea!

    YP: A chariot! Now THAT sounds fabulous. Leave it to the French to make shopping stylish.

    Ms Moon: I might be good but I'm definitely insane.

    Edna: It has more to do with indulging my need for orderliness than any goodness!

    Sharon: So what happens? Does Safeway come and collect them, or do your apartment managers dispose of them? I would think if there were a lot of them the store would have more incentive to do a collection.

    Robin: Olga kept giving the cart sideways glances as we walked, as if to say, "WHAT is that thing?"

    Red: I'm sure that happens here too, but in this case I think it was just a lazy shopper rolling it away.

    Colette: Thanks!

    Catalyst: Indeed!

    Bug: I AM slightly cranky, it's true. In fact, more than slightly, some days!

    E: "An Underwhelmed Mensch." I think that's a good title for my autobiography.

    Sabine: Well, I wouldn't go THAT far. :)

    GZ: Trundlers! I love it! Hadn't heard that one.

    Ellen: Ha! Maybe B&Q will see this post. In which case they should send me a coupon. Not that I ever actually shop at B&Q.

    Penelope: Olga ALWAYS loves new smells!

  17. Excellent! I am glad the trolley was taken home. I once rang a DIY shop near us about their trolley which had been outside our house for about a month. Unlike you, I didn't take it home myself, but it did disappear after a few days, so maybe they did! The man I spoke to also seemed a bit surprised and not too sure about trolley responsibility!