The Cart Run

“Hey, Jason,” says team leader. “Can you go on a cart run for me?”

Cart run! That’s what going out for carts is called at the grocery store I work at. CART RUN!


Just tell me to grab carts. I don’t need the run part. I’m 29 and working at a fucking grocery store. Your stupid hip subliminal bullshit doesn’t work with me. Here’s how the human mind breaks down cart run:


I am sure this cart run formula was conjured up at some big shot, corporate meeting.

“Having our team leaders tell employees, I mean team members, to go out for carts only allows the brain to focus on the word carts, which subconsciously triggers a negative response, because we all know how everyone hates getting carts.”

HA! HA! HA! corporate meeting laughter.

“Now,” continues big shot dressed in suit, making $100k/year, “if we tell our team leaders to tell team members to go on a cart run, that initial negative response toward the word cart is shadowed by the word run, which subconsciously triggers a positive response, because we all know how running is a quick and fast activity.”

Ohhh! Ahhh! Ohhh! meeting awe.

“To review. Carts equals a shitty activity. Cart run equals a shitty, but fast, ‘it will be over very soon’ activity.”

Clap! Clap! Clap! applause.

face test

Notice the frown on the face of the employee, I mean team member, who was asked to “GO OUT for carts” compared to the smile on the face of the team member, who was asked to “GO ON a cart run.”

The smiley team member wasn’t asked to “go out” like a dog to do his or her business. He or she was asked to “go on” like an explorer about to embark on a great adventure…so without further ado…let’s GO ON that adventure.

cart run 2

“Hey, Jason,” says team leader. “Can you go on a cart run for me?”

OMG! I think. The team LEADER has chosen ME for this important quest.

“Yes,” I  say. “I will GO ON a cart run.”

final noteI leave my Bagging Post and dress for my departure:

– XXXXXL sized company winter coat (or armor), check

– Reflective vest (or shield), check

– Cart safety strap (or whip), check


Outside, the air is frigid. Snow and wind attack my face as my feet slush, slush on the dirty cold accumulation below. The first of two cart corrals is loaded with carts. I think of the number six, for six is the maximum number of carts I am allowed to push at one time. Pushing more than six carts is a danger to parked cars and customers and can lead to disciplinary action.


I remove one large cart from the LEFT ROW of the cart corral and set it aside. I then grab another large cart and combine it with the first large cart. I now have two large carts. The next two carts in the corral are small carts. One of the small carts has a square bottom, while the other small cart has a slanted bottom. I remove the two small carts and set them aside so I can access the large cart that was parked in front of the two small carts, reverse it out, and combine it with the two large carts. I now have three large carts. The next cart is a medium cart. I reverse it out and set it aside. I grab the remaining two large carts and combine them with the three large carts. I now have five large carts. I push the medium and two small carts back into the LEFT ROW of the cart corral.

Side Note: I am sure that seemed extremely confusing and pointless but stay with me.

The RIGHT ROW of the cart corral goes like: small square bottom, medium, medium, small slanted bottom, large, large. In order to reach the two large carts, I first remove all the other carts and set them aside. I then reverse one large cart and combine it with the five large carts for a total of six large carts.

– Mental Reminder –
Six is the maximum amount of carts I am allowed to push at one time. Pushing more than six carts is a danger to parked cars and customers and can lead to disciplinary action.

I push the two small and two medium carts into the LEFT ROW of the cart corral, so when I return, I can easily access the large cart (which sits alone in the RIGHT ROW).

cart4As I hook my cart safety strap to the front of the first large cart in the line of six large carts, a customer returns their empty small cart to the RIGHT ROW of the cart corral where I had the single large cart isolated.

Burying my inner urge to scream “FUCK FACE! DON’T PUT  THE SMALL CART BEHIND THE LONE LARGE CART!”, I wrap the end of my safety strap around my hand, grip the rear cart handle, and push the combined six large carts through the always crowded parking lot.


While heading toward the entrance doors, I witness the following:

– A cart abandoned on the sidewalk

– A customer pushing a cart with only ONE grocery bag

– A car idling directly in front of the entrance


The clear automatic doors open. Customers pour out. As soon as there’s an opening, I push the six large carts through the first door, sharp right (cart wheels screeching on tile floor) through the second door, and finally, home. I undo my cart safety strap and combine the six large outside carts with the big group of large inside carts. I head back out into the frigid air to gather more carts.

Inside. Outside. Inside. Outside.

Snow and wind continue to attack my face, and now, my socks are wet on account of my feet slush, slushing on the dirty cold accumulation below. My mental state quickly deteriorates as my journey appears endless. I turn against myself, accepting the hopelessness of my situation. I want to die. I think about war and how if I was a soldier I would want to live. The battlefield demands life, yet the grocery store parking lot demands death. I look around for a sign of hope but see nothing but endless customers and carts.


I re-enter the grocery store, hang up my whip, set down my shield, and remove my armor. I stand before both co-workers and customers as nothing more than a fragile, tired, and scared human being. My cart run has ended for now but I am left with memories of the bitter cold and collapsing darkness that will forever haunt my mind. 


If only the corporate big shots just told team leaders to say to employees, I mean team members, “GO OUT for carts” instead of “GO ON a cart run” then maybe I would have stopped myself from thinking so much about this stupid cart run and wandered out into the frigid air like a dog and did my business and returned inside satisfied and craving nothing more than a soft pat on the head, or maybe a belly scratch, those always feel good.


jay pic


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