Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Grocery gettin'

I worked my way through high school and college in the supermarket biz.

Started as a Courtesy Clerk (box boy, cart runner), was promoted to Cashier (checker), did a stint as an Inventory Clerk (night stocker), and after 3 years was one of three Assistant Managers (swing shift). I was 18 and in charge of the entire market from 5:30 p.m. to closing time (2 a.m.) Isn't that scary.

Here in my small town (and from what I gather, across the state as well), when you make a purchase, the courtesy clerks wil carry your bags to your car for you.

Yep, whether it's a single tangerine, or a cart full of sacks.

The best part is the look on their faces when you tell them, "that's okay, I got it," as you take the cart out the door.

One young lad was stunned into inaction. He stared at me like I was a scab crossing the picket line, taking food and benefits from his growing family of 5.

I know I should submit and just let them do their job. I know that they are trained to multitask and the labor schedule is written to accomodate such a luxury as this. I know that they aren't expecting and won't accept tips.

But I'm just not ready to relinquish the right to take the shopping cart for a quick joy ride through the parking lot.

Like a dog hanging his head out the window of a pickup, spit flying off his tongue and sticking to the rear quarter panel like wallpaper paste, I enjoy my shopping cart rides. As they were when I was a kid getting groceries with my folks, then later as a teenager getting paid to round up carts, "parking lot races" still offer unparalleled domestic adventure in low speed, cheap thrills, and uncontrollable danger.

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