“Tell you what. I’ll let you use that one for now, as long as you return it to the apartment.”
“Where the heck did you think I would leave it,” Ed thought. But he just nodded and said, “Okay”. He wanted to be on his way.
When the guy took off in the truck, Ed kept pushing the cart along. He would like to make up time, but he was getting too old to move quickly. Besides, even in the cold weather, he started to sweat if he went too fast.
He figured that the old man was telling him the truth about Big Boxers. They liked to play hard ball. Stiffin’ the little guy was the name of the game. But now, with Christmas coming, they needed the carts, and had given up on the squeeze play. After Christmas, well, that might be another story.
Ed knew which people shovelled their driveway and walk, and which didn’t. A few never cleared the snow away, and Ed wondered about delivering to them. It depended on how bad the snow and ice were. And today, conditions weren’t too bad. He noticed that it was usually the women who cleared the walks; unless there was a lot of snow. Then the men would fire up the snow-blowers and make a big deal of it.
Once he got going, he usually enjoyed the route. There were a few old-timers whom he knew from work, and he would stop for a minute to chat. Now that he had no money, he didn’t have much of a social life otherwise.
Best of all, he was actually losing weight, and getting his gut down a bit. His doctor had expressed surprise at the check-up last week. He told Ed that if he could keep this up, it would add years to his life. His only worry was whether Ed’s arthritic joints might get worse from being out in the inclement weather.
The dogs were his only other problem. Ed didn’t like them barking and snarling at him. The noise of the grocery cart rattling along seemed to set them off. He would be halfway up the block and the dogs would start up. Most of them were kept inside, or behind fences. But a few people expected him to come into the yard with the dogs running free. “No way,” Ed told them. “But they’re friendly!” the owners insisted. “Friendly to you, maybe,” Ed thought. “But I don’t feed them every day.” He wasn’t ready to believe that two big snarling dogs would suddenly change to playful little puppies, especially when the owners weren’t around.
In the good weather, one or two of Ed’s buddies used to follow him around, just for something to do. He appreciated the company, but then they would expect Ed to buy them a cold drink. Ed would have a pop himself, so he would end up spending four dollars or more. When he found out how little he was getting paid, this started to bother him. But, once the cooler weather came, the interest in helping out disappeared.