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over the parking lot of Aldi’s. They bustle to snag unattended shopping carts, return them to the carousel, accept the quarter deposit from the locking mechanism. They position themselves like athletes or secret service agents, waiting for an old blue-hair to leave her cart in the parking spot as she pulls out to head home. Last year, the pair land-battled over the roadside aluminum on Golley Road, where they both trash-bagged mountain dew cans to take to the Burp-E recycling center. Gavin’s Dad says Merle is trailer-park-trouble. Gavin’s family lives in a trailer park too, but a different one. Nicer, his dad claims. At least they don’t leave Christmas decorations up all year long. That’s tacky, his dad claims. Gavin and Merle’s parents work for the same call center, where they’re paid on commission and a complicated series of metrics. They both have a script they must adhere to, repeating the same sales pitches and assurances as their supervisor listens on their calls. Gavin and Merle fight in the Aldi’s parking lot, which upsets the balance of the business, because Aldi’s is kind of the pastoral grocery store; the quiet alternative to supercenters. Maybe now that boy will get a real job, Gavin’s dad claims. A week after the fight, an attendant is assigned to gather loose buggies, and they’re not allowed to keep the quarters.

Tucker Leighty-Phillips is a writer from Southeastern Kentucky. His website is

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