I loaded my car and looked around for a cart return, but I didn’t see one. Not wanting to leave the cart in the parking lot, for fear it would roll into someone’s car, I decided to push it back inside.
I ought to get good karma for this, I thought, as I pushed the cart toward the store. I’m helping to make someone’s life easier.
I returned the cart and walked back to my car. Climbing behind the wheel, I noticed someone had left a cart sandwiched between my car and the car in front of me.
Huh, I thought, tilting my chin upward. Not everyone’s as nice as me. I’m exceptional.
As I started the vehicle, a clerk emerged from the store looking for stray carts. She spotted the one in front of my car and walked toward it. As she grabbed it, she looked me right in the eye — I was fastening my seat belt — and gave me a horrifying grimace.
What was that look for? I wondered, as the clerk tromped away, pushing the cart. Usually when a woman makes a sour face at me, it’s because I’ve asked for her number.
It suddenly struck me: The clerk had seen me in my idling car and figured the stray cart was mine. She thought I was one of those rude jerks who didn’t know how to use a cart return.
I jumped out of my car. “Excuse me. Miss?”
“Get lost,” she said, marching forward with the cart.
“You have to understand!” I called, running toward her. “That cart’s not mine. I just pushed my cart back into the store. You have to believe me!”
“Yeah, right, pal,” she said. “Up yours.”
“I’m serious!” I said, catching up to her. “I don’t leave my cart sandwiched between cars. I always go out of my way to find a cart return. Honest.”
“Too little, too late,” the clerk said, as she continued walking. “Let’s get real: You’re just an elitist bastard who leaves it to the lowly minions like me to traverse the entire parking lot looking for stray carts. Don’t try to pretend otherwise.”
“I swear!” I said. “I’m a good person!”
I reached out to grab her shoulder, to stop her.
“Don’t touch me!” In a flash, the clerk spun around and slammed the cart into my groin. I screamed and fell to the hot asphalt. The clerk rammed the cart into my face and stomach, slamming the wheels into my teeth and breaking my glasses.
A man rushed toward us. “What’s going on? Did this guy try to hurt you?”
“No,” the clerk said. “He’s just one of those arrogant jerks who leaves his cart sandwiched between cars. No one’s ever taught him to use a cart return.”
“Oh, really?” the man said. He glared down at me. “Then how about we teach him now?”
The man kicked me in the face and the stomach. He then stepped on my hand, breaking two of my fingers. Last, he drove the toe of his boot deep into my chest, cracking three of my ribs.
I yelped, flailing around in agony as the man continued to kick me. The clerk pointed and laughed manically.
“Here, dear,” the man said, taking the cart from the clerk. “Let me wheel that into the store for you.”
As they disappeared into the distance, I lay on the asphalt, moaning. I reached out to try to hoist myself up, but there was nothing to grab onto — not a car or even a stray shopping cart.