José didn’t have a lot of ambition in life. At fifteen, he was what people his age referred to as a coaster, someone going through the motions, surviving one day to the next without ever failing or succeeding to the point of recognition. Just getting by, as they say. It wasn’t the worst life to live. A follower, not a leader. A face in the crowd rather than the face of the crowd. At least he wasn’t getting suspended, or worse, being heralded with accolades and promises of a brighter future that eventually lead to ‘Do you want fries with that?’ rather than the assumed ‘And the Nobel Prize goes to …’ He knew how the world worked. There were a select few who would make a name for themselves, but most wouldn’t. Most would end up doing something that was never on their radar. And the ones who were causing all the trouble—the burnouts; they already knew what their future was going to be like. It wasn’t good, but at least they knew. José was currently in that middle-zone of knowing and simultaneously not knowing what his life was all about. Knowing that, yes, he wasn’t going to be rocketed to the moon or wind up as a famous music star one day. But, also not knowing who he could be right now. Right now was happening right now, and if he wasn’t vigilant, it was going to be over soon. Maybe it was time to do something drastic; one big push to go from average into slightly-above-average status, a coaster to … well, he didn’t know what the word for that was, but it had to have some sort of ring to it, didn’t it? If he was going to do this, then it needed to be something extravagant. There was one idea that kept coming up again and again in his mind: Donald’s record of 76 carts.
A pretty damn big push.
There were two witnesses during Donald’s renowned cart record that took place at the Meijer on the corner of 28th and Kalamazoo. One was a co-worker who had explained on her Instagram that watching Donald try to push 76 carts at once was like trying to watch a child push a boulder up a mountain. Painful, yet liberating. The picture of the event was unfortunately blurry. The post received 217 likes. The second witness, a gentleman by the name of Chuck Winer, was loading up his Jeep with groceries when he saw Donald pushing the long train of carts across the parking lot. Donald later stated that Chuck had cheered him on during the entire ordeal, even patted him on the back once the final cart was pushed inside the store. It was the stuff of legends: Donald pushed 76 carts (without the cart caboose, that was key) and was immortalized into Meijer lore.
José had worked at the same Meijer for over six months and the closest he ever got to Donald’s record was a measly 45. Chump change. He didn’t understand how Donald had done it. 76 carts were insane. Imagine the strength needed to push that many carts. The composure! The blisters! How? Just … how? But it didn’t matter how Donald had done it. All that mattered was that he had done it. Almost all of José’s co-workers knew who Donald was because he had pushed 76 carts into Meijer like a boss. That mattered. Why? Because it was just silly enough to be cool, silly enough to count for something. If José was going to do this so-called push, removing himself from the shadows and into the light, then it needed to be something ridiculous like breaking Donald’s record. It was better than doing something ordinary like getting straight A’s at school. Who even remembers who the valedictorian is?
José arrived to work at 7:45 AM, fifteen minutes early. He was in some kind of mood. His chin was up an extra two inches higher than normal. His walk was steadier than usual; no dragging of his feet or scuff marks on the white tile inside of the store. His uniform was tucked into his jeans, no wrinkles. The odds of that happening were less than the odds of the Lions winning the Super Bowl. The temperature outside was a perfect 72 degrees, nice for a random Saturday in September. There was little foot traffic inside and the parking lot was about half empty. All of these things were ideal conditions for a record-setting afternoon. He had his mind set on greatness today.
The morning shift was easy. Mostly, he moved things from one end of the store to the other. He rarely got put on checkout and today was no exception. He realized that most of what any of his co-workers did at Meijer was move things.
Can you push this thing from here over to there?
Can you lift this thing from here and then put it over there?
Can you scan that thing that you put over there and then bring the scanner over here?
Can you get to work on time, showered, dressed appropriately, and not acting like you’re all kinds of fucked up?
The last one was hard for a lot of people at Meijer.
When 1:00 PM came, José clocked out and walked to the break room, whistling off-key.
Soon to be 77.
After lunch, Donald’s ass is grass.