Ed was wheeling his way back to the apartment now, when a pick-up truck pulled up. The driver called out, “Are you done with the cart yet? We couldn’t find any.”
“The grocery cart guy came and took them all. Sure, you can have it if you need it.”
They looked like house painters, with large containers on the truck. The driver hopped out and took the cart. He lifted it up on the tail-gate, and pushed it into the truck.
Ed thought about how many people use grocery carts. He was close to the plaza now, and remembered that he had seen another buggy there. He detoured slightly, and found it upside down under a tree. This would cancel his debt to the grocery cart guy.
An hour or so later, Ed was in the apartment lobby. An old couple came in, looking for a cart to carry their groceries in from the car. “I’ll get one for ya,” Ed promised. He went around the corner of the building. But the cart was already gone. “What the heck!” Someone must have already used it, and neglected to bring it back. Going inside he announced, “Sorry. Somebody scoffed it. But I’ll help you bring your stuff in.” Ed noticed that the old man had difficulty walking, and his wife looked frail. “That’s why we need the carts,” he thought.
A few minutes later he was walking along the hall of the main floor, heading for the stairs. The storage room was open, and Ed glanced inside. The caretaker was arranging stuff neatly in rows. And there was the grocery cart that Ed had just fetched. He stood there staring for a minute.
“Will you be using that buggy soon?” he finally asked.
“No, we just hold them for Big Boxers. When we hear that the grocery cart guy is coming, we put them out for him.”
Ed thought for a moment. “Don’t you know that the old folks need a cart to bring stuff in?”
The caretaker shrugged. “Let them buy their own shopping carts. We’re obliged to return these to their owners.”
Ed wondered whether the apartment corporation got paid anything for this. Or whether they were just trying to avoid trouble with Big Boxers.
“Yeah! I guess Big Boxers wouldn’t know where their next ten billion was coming from, if they didn’t get this cart back pronto.”
“Well, if I weren’t so busy, buddy, I’d love to talk to you all about it. But that’s the policy, okay?”
Ed thought it over. Here he was unemployed, delivering flyers for less than a dollar an hour, while the grocery cart guy, the apartment management, and Big Boxers were all making his life a little bit more difficult. Maybe he should just quit. He thought some more.
In a funny sort of way, however, it made him feel good to be able to do the work in spite of all the roadblocks. It wasn’t that the job was worth it, but it was a bit of a challenge. And having all these big boys lined up against you made it more interesting. Not that anybody would notice. But from now on, he would make sure that there would be grocery carts around for the residents, even if he had to bring them from a distance. His war with the grocery cart guy was far from over.