There is perhaps no more a revealing action than what a person does with their shopping cart when they’re finished using it. I say this from first hand experience, as I have spent a good portion of this month working as a “courtesy clerk” for Safeway. My job entails bagging groceries, cleaning of sorts, various customer service tasks, and possibly the most important task of all, collecting carts from the parking lot.
I love my job, I really do. I tend to enjoy the variety of activities I experience on a daily basis, especially knowing I have a paycheck coming my way every Thursday. The only activity I am dismayed at is cart collection. There is a variety of reasons for this, some being that its simply not enjoyable, it get extremely hot during the day, the carts tend to fight back, and primarily: people are assholes.
The parking lot is equipped with spaces, known as cart corrals, which are designed with the customer in mind; providing them with a spot to park their carts when they’re done with them while making it easier and more convenient than walking up to the front of the store and putting it back where it came from. One would think that people would enjoy these handy little things, sometimes I doubt if they even realize they exist.
The task of cart collection can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, the latter of which I do not wish on anyone. The basic task is to clear the parking lot of free carts while also clearing the corrals of carts, and bring them back to the cart “depot” at the entrance(s) of the store. Simple enough, right? Wrong, very wrong. The Cart Collector comes across many oddities, annoyances, injuries, inhumanities, and hindrances in a daily routine.
First, you have the people who place their carts in planter boxes and over curbs, which are scattered around the parking lot. The front two wheels are often lifted up and over the curb (so it doesn’t roll away?), and sometimes in the worst case scenario, the entire cart has been moved within the boundaries of the planter box. What the hell, people? These are your average useless asshole selfish bunch. They refuse to take an extra twenty steps to a corral and instead choose to power their cart into the nearest planter box (The act is sometimes done so forcefully, it puts me in mind of when bobsled teams charge before getting in). Not only does it look hideous, it takes up parking spaces (ever so slightly but sometimes just enough) and makes my job that much harder. I’m already dealing with Gobi Desert-like conditions, pinched fingers, tired arms, and union dues. You people are my least favorite people on earth, and you suck. I love catching you in the act of your crime (I propose it be punishable by death by stoning), in which you suddenly become apologetic, and in the best cases you act like you weren’t about to show the world you’re chronic laziness, and instead choose to walk aimlessly around the general area of your car while pushing your cart until I come and confiscate your weapon of mass destruction (the cart).
Second, you have your people who simply leave their cart right where it is after their last grocery bag has been lifted out and into their trunk. Though this is considerably rarer than the planter box bunch, it’s equally annoying, not to mention a great bit more dangerous for the general public. Carts have a tendency to roll, and when they do so, they have a strange ability to hit things, specifically cars. Not much is needed to be said about these cart abandoners, for they are simply too stupid to know the possible consequences of what they have done. They’re actually so dumb, they believe that the cart is supposed to be left where it stands. Perhaps they are actually Carts-Rights activists, who believe the cart should have no boundaries or cages, and should be free to roam the parking lot as it pleases.
The third group of people has my respect. They are the people who take the time to push their cart to the corrals. They are the kind of people who smile at you as they walk by and happily push their cart into the corral, knowing they have done a good deed. Perhaps they are doing it for the karma, but what matters is that they do it. They’re good people.
This fourth group is an overwhelming minority. They are the real champions of the parking lot; silent warriors. They do an act so selfless as to put Jesus to shame. They take the time to push their carts back to the depot at the entrance of their store. Amazing! These are the ones who keep me going when the temperature is cracking 100 (Celsius) and I’m on my second hour with no end in sight. These are the people who make up for the pathetic planter box bunch and the shameless cart abandoners. These people deserve a medal, they really do. A gold one.
When it comes to champions of the lot, there is one man who stands out to me, his name unknown to me. He is a true American hero, and he rides a bike. He cruises through the parking on random days, and grabs loose carts and sends them careening into corrals, making my job significantly easier. He does this for at least and hour, and I stress at least because the three times I’ve seen him, he was there when I got outside and still there when I headed back in after my hour was up. He’s in top physical shape, luckily he uses his skill for good. The world needs more people like him.