Please Return Your Cart
I don’t consider myself to be a rude person.
It isn’t as if I’m going out of my way to inconvenience others. My parents certainly taught me better than that. At least that’s what I thought, but something happened.
In some way or another, karma has left me stranded. I don’t know that I deserve it… or maybe I do.
Friday afternoon. I was on my way home from work and decided to complete my food shopping before the weekend. I picked up the regular items: toilet paper, eggs, bananas, and a list of other essentials for the upcoming week.
I bagged my items, paid the cashier, and pushed the cart out of the store. As I exited the store, the sign over the threshold read, “Please Return Your Cart.” I’m always amused by this because they do have hired help specifically for monitoring the parking lot for vagrant shopping carts. I’ve seen places which employ intellectually disabled young men and women for this position and they do it well, but this store in particular, there’s always been something odd about the parking lot attendants.
I’ll just call them the cartboys. The cartboys at this store, they have a bit of a glazed-over expression on their faces. I distinctly remember telling one to have a great weekend and he grunted in return. Now, there I was, wishing him a good day, providing a sincere gesture of concern for whatever activities are ahead for this young man and he replied with a grunt.
Pushing the cart through the lot, I tried not to let this grunt get the best of me. I’ll be damned if I hadn’t planned to have a great weekend whether or not Cartboy would.
I loaded the car with the bags and stared back at the Cartboy. He sat on a bench outside the store entrance staring off into the sky.
Bored? Well, I showed him. I left that cart right on the line between parking spaces, got into the car, and I drove away. It wouldn’t be the first time, the cart had been clearly hit by a car once or twice, it was, one might say, dinged up.
On the drive home, I replayed the interaction over and over in my head in an attempt to somehow find some possible hint of sarcasm or possibly a pitch in my voice which could have given the wrong impression of the phrase: have a great weekend.
I couldn’t find a single thing wrong with it.
As I turned onto a road near my house, I noticed a figure in the corner of my eye. I could have sworn it was Cartboy, but that would have been impossible.
I continued on, turning onto my street, I saw a cart sitting on the sidewalk. My house is miles from the nearest store.
None of this was making sense. I chalked it up to being a long work week and paid no mind.
Carrying the bags up to my front door, I messed with my keys to locate the front door key. Then I heard it: a grunt.
I spun around, dropped the keys and nearly had the bags fall from my hand. Yet, again, nothing.
“Get it together, man,” I told myself.
Inside, I set the groceries on the kitchen table and walked to my room. I lied down on the bed for a minute, just to close my eyes and rest.
Coo, Coo. Wub, Wub.
I awoke to the sounds of pigeons, completely immobilized, with a breeze blowing over me. Where was I?
A pigeon stood next to me. I could only catch a glimpse of it from my peripheral.
“How about this one, Momma?” a young girl yelled, as I heard her footsteps coming near.
“It looks a little dinged up, but as long as the wheels don’t squeak,” Her mother replied.
Then I felt the grasp of a hand on my feet.
“Here, arms up, I’ll put you in,” the mother said as she lifted the girl.
I felt the girl fall right on my knees.
“What are you doing?!” I shouted.
My body was moving, I could feel my back scraping against an asphalt surface below me, constantly grinding. The pain was agonizing. My head was banging with every uneven patch of pavement. The little girl asked for her mother’s pocketbook then tossed it right on my chest.
“Don’t let me forget it in there when we leave,” her mother said.
“Stop! Please!” I begged, but my voice didn’t carry. Instead, from where I was approaching, I heard a grunt. Peering around as best I could, I saw him.
Except this time, it wasn’t him.
This time, it was me.