This short story received an Honorable Mention for Creativity by the Fort Myers Weekly Press writing competition, September 2019.
t looks like a crime scene. Yellow caution tape, orange cones, this place is a mess. But it’s really not my fault. I was an unwitting accomplice, even a victim. And I have the dents to prove it.
Every day I sit in this parking lot. Sometimes, I get to move from the parking lot to inside the store, then back to the parking lot. There is an “up” system with the other carts. We all take turns, like natural selection. I get bored, sometimes. It’s the life of a shopping cart.
But today will go down in the annals of shopping cart lore. I think they call it… a domino effect.
It was a busy day at the store and a lot of us got to go inside. I helped a very weary mom with two kids. The smaller one had arms like a monkey. He sat in my front seat and kept reaching to pick up anything on the shelf within his grasp. In every aisle, he grabbed cans, plastic bottles and boxes and just dropped them to the floor and laughed. Luckily, there was no glass. The poor mom had to go along picking things up.
Then, the big one, who was in my main basket, kept randomly throwing things out. He kept whining that he had no room. Duh kid, the main basket is for items, not kids. Where did he think the groceries would go? Ever hear of walking? It’s good for your health.
The poor mom was so busy picking up all the items both kids dropped, I don’t know how she got any shopping done. Finally, she checked out and parked me in back of her minivan. She looked frazzled and tired. While she took the small one into the car, the big one was at it again and threw several cans out of the cart, so he had more room. She went back to the cart to get him and didn’t even notice.
I saw the whole thing. The cans rolled in every direction. One lady was rolling her cart and accidentally tripped over the can and lost control of the cart. That cart ran into a car that was backing out of a parking space and pushed the cart into another car.
At least the man saw the cans coming his way. He swerved out of the way just in time, but didn’t see the gaggle of abandoned carts scattered in parking spaces. They hit like a pinball machine….one, two, three, all now rolling different directions. One crashed into an adjacent car.
The second runaway cart hit a car that was stopped in the aisle by the other cars who were backing up and hit by carts. And the last fugitive cart? It picked up downhill speed and careened into a palm tree head on. Boom, crack, and one of the limbs fell on the handicapped car parked two stalls away. It was a massacre. Cans, carts, groceries, cars, and angry people all standing around looking for someone to blame.
But the mom was so preoccupied getting the kids and groceries into the car, she didn’t even see the chaos and carnage. And then, she left me in the adjacent stall right next to the handicapped car.
The store manager was called and the police came to fill out insurance damage reports. And who did they see next to the car – me. The cart that hit the tree bounced off the tree and moved into another space. I was left innocently closest to the tree.
Now I’m just waiting for the store manager to inspect the damage. And everyone is looking at me.
I would love to say…It was her and her and him and mostly the kid, but I can’t speak for myself. No one sticks up for us shopping carts. They use us, abuse us and knock into everything, and then just leave us abandoned to get hit by cars and wait until someone takes us or the clerk puts us home to our corral. Why don’t people just put their carts away? And better yet, why can’t they control their kids?