By Nick “Novel” Gabanski
I’m a cart attendant at a SuperTarget. It’s one of the most demanding, labor-intensive, and under-appreciated jobs you can find in a retail store. But it’s a job, and it pays some bills. Working at any retail store, you get to experience humanity in its rawest, purest, and more often than not, dumbest form. And quite unfortunately, in this line of work, the stupidity and obliviousness can be found both in and out of the store. As a cart attendant, you have to avoid getting stepped on by guests (customers) and upper-management.
Of all the stories I’ll be telling people long after I quit working at Target, it’ll be the ones about the rain. Great part about working as a cart attendant is you get to go outside and get plenty of fresh air. And get exposed to high levels of humidity, searing heat, insects, people with a high-school understanding of driving, fierce thunderstorms, blistering cold, and snow-slush two feet deep.
Rain is not seasonal. You can get rain year-round. And the funny thing about rain is, it gets things wet. Odd, right? So naturally when you have three hundred-plus carts sitting outside waiting to be brought in for use and it’s raining out, those carts will be understandably wet. And yet, people that come in to shop, even though it’s a torrential downpour, always ask the same question every single time.
“Can I have a dry cart?”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked that. I can’t tell you how many times I would just love to tell them that, “No, you cannot have a dry cart because literally every cart I just brought in is wet. Are you stupid?” But I still hold some value to my job so I don’t say that. Even when my supervisors try to prepare and plan ahead by putting out towels for the guests to use, they still complain. These towels are neon green and orange. Set in a basket in plain view as soon as you walk through the doors. And yet, I hear this:
“Sir, can you please dry this cart off for me?”
“Is there anything I can use to dry this cart off?”
First off, there is so much more to cart attending than just bringing in carts from the parking lot. We have other duties like cleaning bathrooms, taking out trash inside and outside, cleaning up spills, and assisting guests with carrying out items too big or too heavy for them to handle on their own. As such, what I would love to say in answer to that first question is, “Ma’am/Sir, I have a thousand other things to do in this store. Drying this cart off for your personal convenience is not one of them.”
Then of course the second question really has me rolling my eyes because those bright towels are in plain view. Not plain enough for the truly oblivious though. All I can do at that point is simply point out the towels. The look of discovery and wonderment is very real in some of those people’s eyes.
What’s really fun is when my manager, the god of our store, tells us cart attendants to wipe those carts off. Especially on a weekend, when things are at their busiest and everyone and their mothers came to shop all at once. Do you think we have time for that? No, we do not.
So please, next time you go shopping at a retail store and it’s raining out, look for a towel. If there is none to be had, suck it up and just grab a wet cart. You are not related to the Wicked Witch of the West, and you will not melt if you touch water.
Edited by Melissa Brooks