Diary Of A Grocery Cart

By: Russell Bradbury-Carlin

May 11: Oh, I am shining. I am glistening with hope. Here I am in the tractor-trailer with all of my shining, glistening comrades making our way to a Piggly Wiggly in Penopshaw, Indiana. After all of my time dreaming about this day, it has finally come. I am going to be of service to the common man. I will wheel over asphalt and tile to carry his or her burdens, help families provide sustenance, to be an integral part of the Capitalist system — I am the future of grocery transportation devices. No higher calling could I think of.

May 13: I thought that being at the end of the truck meant I would be one of the first fresh carts for customers to make use of. Instead, they took us off one by one, and I was jammed deep into the far recesses of Backup Cart Storage Area #2A in the plastic-covered, dirt-floored side lot of the store. I am not discouraged, though. This is giving me ample opportunity to drink in all aspects of my new life. Sure, I share my space with the over-ripe fruit disposal container. But, who said the life of a hard-working grocery cart would be all soft loaves of Wonderbread and bright bags of Cheetos. I feel lucky to have this time to watch the veritable ballet of fruitflies dancing around me. I will be patient. My day will come.

May 21: Today I was moved to the main backup cart storage area at the front of the store. Oh, the bright lights, the bustling murmur of customers entering and leaving the store. I am almost sure I can hear the laughter in their voices as they wheel other carts from the store ladened with their freshly bought grocery items. That is the good news. The bad news is that my back right wheel is almost completely covered in some sort of sticky brown muck with a gum wrapper stuck to it. I fear that I may be unbalanced – that if someone takes me, they may reject me — because who wants to push a cart that wobbles. I will keep my hopes high as best I can.

May 23: Today I was outfitted with an advertisement card on my child seat. I’m happy because it means I’m being suited up for my first foray into the store. It means I’m finally getting my chance. Unfortunately, the downside is that I feel as though the message on the advertisement — “Wiggle Your Way To Great Savings At Piggly Wiggly!” — makes my mucked up rear wheel more apparent with the “wiggle” reference and all. I know paranoia is a drink best taken in sips. I mustn’t let this damage my excitement. I will hope that no one will make the connection.

May 24: It was a bit of wait, but I’m in! It was a busy Saturday so this morning I was moved into the main cart station. After a number of people started to roll me into the store and abandoned me after noticing my wobbly wheel — I was given the opportunity to assist a family of six. As they loaded me up with Tang and butterscotch pudding, I bopped along with the muzak version of “Losing My Religion”. I was overflowing with abundance. I think I’m going to like it hear. What am I talking about? I do like it here.

June 14: Children — God bless them — should not be allowed to be unsupervised in a cart. It says so on the placard near the front door. This one little tyke who was fond of a can of strained peaches, decided to take out his latent aggressions on me by pounding the can on my frame. The damage wasn’t too bad — a few dents and chipped coating. I hope it doesn’t rust. I will soldier on, though. Despite my shredded finish, I will finish my job. Despite my disappointment, I will not disappoint.

August 28:

Shakespeare once wrote:

The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices make instruments to plague us

And, I almost told this fat guy about his apparent vice — gluttony. “Hey, buddy! Didn’t you hear that cola can take the rust off of metal? It turns your teeth into dust. Do you really think you can drink twenty cases of cola in a week and not have your stomach dissolve? It will dissolve or my name isn’t A Shopping Cart.”

August 29: I want to apologize, Diary, for my entry yesterday. It was the week before Memorial Day and I had been constantly out in the store and in the lot for seven days straight. My head’s clearer now. I am clearer now. I will not get upset like that again. Because my head is clearer now. I am relaxed.

September 4: Those scummy little punks! Last night, near closing, a group of rogue juveniles nabbed me as I sat out at the side of the store. Who parents these violent and untamed youths? They took me for a joy ride — deciding it would be fun to slam me into the sides of buildings. I lost a wheel in the vestibule of the pet food store. Then, these desperate youths dragged me out to the copse of woods behind the store and shoved me into the swamp. As I write this now, I’m half-buried in mud. In the dim murky distance I can see the inert outlines of other carriages. I am sure they are covered in rust, I can smell it from here. I’m trying to keep my hopes up — at least mosquitoes don’t bite metal.

September 6: I’m still trapped in this viscous swamp. But, I continue to pray for the best. It is difficult. I fear I may be too far from the store to find my way back alone. At night, I have fever-dreams of families in the store juggling produce and meats in their arms, entire rounds of cheese, sausage links, and celery stalks crashing to the floor in a dirty and distasteful floor salad. I could be there right now. I could be helping them.

September 8: I am guessing, at this point, that the Cart Organizer, Ben, will not come looking for this lost member of his flock. I remember thinking him lazy when I first laid eyes upon him and now I know for sure. I write this now knowing I will never make it back home. I was so ready a few short months ago to fill my open carriage with the bounty of life that lines the well-stocked shelves of Piggly Wiggly. Now, all I am left with are boxes of shattered dreams, cans of disillusionment, and bags of lost hopes. So please remember me faithful reader, whoever you may be. Remember me for my once steely optimism. Remember me for the corners I turned — despite handicaps. Remember me, world. And sing out my name. Sing out A Shopping Cart.


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