Friday, April 26, 2013

Rats, shopping carts, and nice people.


I was getting a new aquarium for our pet rats, the reason being that our rats had grown a lot since we saved them from being snake food on New Year's Eve, and they felt a little squished within those glass walls. It was a ten minute walk to the shopping area, on a nice paved path along a speedy four-lane road with the bonus feature of pedestrian-activated traffic signals.

 When I arrived at the big parking lot plaza, I went to the grocery store first. I bought a miniature chocolate cake for a person who I later found out doesn't like chocolate cakes, and I bought a couple Pilot pens. After paying for them at the humanless self checkout kiosk, I stuck them in a shopping cart and rolled a few yards to the pet store.

I needed one of the tall burly men to help me get the aquarium down from its display perch. I paid for it and asked the two guys at the register whether they thought the grocery store would mind me borrowing their shopping cart.

"I don't think they really encourage it," was the answer. "But they're never going to know."
"Better than using one of our carts." the other one added.

 A minute later, I was rolling back down the paved path with a bum-wheeled shopping cart containing an aquarium too big for me to carry containing two pens and a chocolate cake. I can only imagine what the people in the cars thought as they sputtered by.

I made it to the top of the hill but wanted to leave the cart on the main road. That's because I've seen the guy who drives around with the truck and the big trailer full of lost carts, and I've seen him pick one up and throw it on top of the pile like a beast, and I think he's a saint, and I don't want to cause him more trouble than necessary. I was struggling to wrap my arms around the glassy edges and reminding myself to lift with my knees when a woman wearing a backpack walked by and asked if I needed help.

Yes. Yes indeed. If you don't mind. We each grabbed one end of that unweildy rectangle and started toting it down the road towards my home. I decided I was in charge of making conversation since I had dragged her into this pickle. I found out that she was from China and studying biomedical or biochemical or chemimedical something something. As is usually my response to people who are badass enough to study things that mean nothing to me, I just said wow. I wondered if she had to do experiments on refrigerated rats at work and decided to pretend I had fish.

She helped me set it down on the porch and I said an effusive thank you and she just nodded and left unassumingly. I managed to lug the thing up some stairs and present it to my adoring rats. In the wee hours of the morning, a man in a big truck idled by the curb and threw a shopping cart onto the growing pile in his trailer.

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