Dear Napans, I'm the cart guy at Whole Foods, Bel Aire plaza — the one in a picture from the Register mid-April, pushing a cart train.
I had 24 minutes of fame. People knew me. Now it's over.
Everything that follows is my opinion and in no way reflects Whole Foods Market policy. I am here to tell you, now, two months later: knock it off. I say that in the way we say, in the south, "bless your heart."
Stop leaving carts in the tree wells in the Bel Aire parking lot. Return them. There are three spots in the lot: one south, one north, and one dead center for dead carts. I timed it. From the farthest flung parking spot it takes 27 seconds, at a saunter, not a power-cart-pushing walk, to reach the store front. It is even shorter to the spots.
Who am I to tell you this? I'm a service worker in an apron, in grocery. Water rises to its level, my folk say. If I could do better I would. Well, yes and no. I am 50, a systems analyst with a fancy master’s degree (I studied collective action and public goods) from a fancy school. Happenstance has me in the lot.
I have pondered the tangled nest of carts around the trees for many hours now. It is hilarious. It is flat dumb.
I grew up in small-town Virginia and West Virginia. As a kid, I'd use a tool and put it down. My grandpa would say, quietly, "Son, where'd you get that." That is all he would say. I'd put it back in the shed. I'd drop dirty clothes on the floor. My grandma would say, "Bless your heart, dear." That soft tone meant 'now, right now.' I’d put them away.
Napa isn't the South. I know. Napa is wine country, posh. I have been sorely tempted to say to a customer, eight feet from a cart slot, sticking a cart on the curb, tanned, rested, and ready seconds from slipping into his air conditioned $40K SUV, "Bless your heart dear, where did you get that?"
Look, if you are old, infirmed, disabled, or you have children, I get it. I will take the cart to the car for you, load your groceries for you, entertain the kids while doing it, and you, and bring the cart back to the store. I will. But if that ain't you? Be decent. It is 54 seconds of your time, max.
You know who returns carts? Women. Women over 60. Almost always. You know who doesn't? Men. Of all ages. If you want to talk more about sex and gender, about opportunity cost, profit margin, labor, and collective action find me in the lot or ask me to push your cart to your car. We'll chat.
In the meantime, ask yourself, "Where did I get this?" And put it back before I call you dear or bless your heart.
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