It was the best when it rained, when the sewers backed up and the water in the parking lot crept high on her boots, almost to her knees. Those were the best days, because those were the days Mary Spencer knew she would make the money to fund her dream.
She wanted a new pair of shoes, ones without gaping holes near the toes like the ones she had to wear every day. There were other uses for the money, too. It cost $3 in bus fare to get to basketball practice. And when the funds were especially tight at home, she needed to buy milk for her cereal. But she dreamed about the shoes, and so she prayed for rain.
Around the time she turned 11, a local grocery store began charging a 25-cent deposit for use of its carts. Customers inserted a quarter into a mechanism near the handle to release the cart. Only a few extra steps were needed to retrieve the quarter, but those were steps nobody wanted to take in a downpour. At least, nobody except Spencer, who learned the value in taking the steps others avoided.
In two months, she had her new shoes.
They cost $120, or 480 safely returned grocery carts.