The Rockwood Files: Dear Lady at Target

rockwood files color

By Gwen Rockwood, syndicated columnist and mama of 3

Dear Lady at Target,

Here’s how it happened. As with most mistakes, it began because I was in a rush.

It was Taco Tuesday, and my parents were coming over for dinner. But first I needed to run to Target. I took our 10-year-old daughter with me because she wanted to get the cute back-to-school notebooks before they were gone.

So we dashed in, grabbed a cart, and then zipped around tossing in what we needed – soap, dog treats, granola bars, etc. When we made it to the back of the store where the school supplies were, we split up to make the hunting and gathering go quicker.

“You get the colored pencils. I’ll grab the glue sticks,” I said.

With taco time closing in on us, we were like school shopping ninjas – whizzing around with a blur of binders and a flash of folders. We tossed them into the cart willy-nilly and took off for the front of the store.

As luck would have it, we found a check-out lane that was empty so we pulled in and started loading the conveyor belt with our items. As we neared the bottom of the cart, I picked up a pair of glittery pink scissors. It caught my attention because Kate, who is now 10, has recently entered an “anti-pink” stage. Little-girl pink is out and a more mature turquoise, navy and lavender have taken its place.

I held up the scissors and said, “Are these the scissors you picked? I thought you didn’t want pink stuff anymore.”

Kate eyed them suspiciously. “Those aren’t the scissors I picked. I must have put the wrong ones in the cart,” she said.

“No problem. We’ll ask the checker to put these back,” I said. “Did you put these Post-it notes in the cart? Those aren’t on the school supply list.”

“I didn’t put Post-it notes in the cart,” she said. “I thought you did.”

“Nope, not me,” I said.

That’s when it hit me. I glanced around the cart and realized there was no package of soap, no granola bars, no dog treats. More importantly, there was no purse either. My purse, which had been riding up front where toddlers usually ride, was not there. THIS WAS NOT MY CART!

With a conveyor belt full of school supplies – some of it mine and some of it someone else’s – I explained it to the check-out clerk. “Oh my gosh, I think I accidentally took someone else’s cart back in the school supply area! My purse is in the other cart. I’ve got to go find it!”

With that flustered announcement, I grabbed my kid and we sprinted back toward the notebooks. I was praying the whole time. Please let it be there. Please let it be there. Without my purse, I had no way of paying for the stuff, no car keys to get home and no phone to call anyone to help me out of this jam.

“Oh, thank God! There it is!” Waiting patiently by the backpacks was my original shopping cart with purse, soap, dog treats and a smattering of school supplies. I drove it as fast as I could back to the check-out lane where the checker had already rung up my second cart of supplies. There were two people waiting in line behind me, and they were doing an excellent job of masking what must have been profound irritation that the crazy lady in line ahead of them was so scatterbrained that she lost her cart and her purse somewhere in the store and accidentally hijacked someone else’s stuff.

I apologized, of course, but I’m pretty sure they still thought I was nuts. I was half-tempted to look down at my daughter and say “Wait a second! You’re not my kid! Oh no, I’ve accidentally taken the wrong kid to the check-out lane!” (I held back on that, deciding we’d had enough crazy for one day.)

To you – my fellow parent at Target just trying to get school supplies and get out of there – I apologize for accidentally taking your cart. I hope you didn’t search the aisles too long looking for it. My only defense is that it looked a lot like my cart, and my brain was distracted by an impending taco time. Those sparkly pink scissors you put in your cart are with the checker on Lane 4, if you’d like to go back for them. And I really hope we didn’t make you late for your own Taco Tuesday.


The Crazy Cart Hijacker at your local Target

gwen rockwoodGwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of To check out Gwen’s book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.