Of Civility, Responsibility, and Shopping Carts….

 With the economy struggling, unemployment still a serious issue, and all the global turmoil, why do I want to talk about returning shopping carts to the store? Well actually, it’s not even taking a shopping cart all the way back to the store, just to the closest cart corral. Okay, so why talk about that with all the other important matters facing us? Because this single, small act is connected to personal responsibility, self-discipline, and civility. How so?

You see a parking spot open and head for it, only to have to stop your car because a shopping cart is blocking the space. Perhaps you have a passenger who hops out and moves the cart, or you put your car in park and do it yourself. Perhaps you go on to another parking spot, mumbling or seething about someone’s lack of
consideration. Perhaps you realize that you’ve left a cart like that, but that’s different because you had a really good reason. Perhaps you ignore the whole incident because it has become so commonplace. Perhaps you blame the store. After all, isn’t it their job to take care of it? Do you mean the dedicated cart retrieval person that stores hire? I haven’t seen too many want ads for that position. Oh that’s right, the stock person or bagger who takes care of the carts as part of their other duties. When carts are placed into the corrals or even returned to the store, that means the individuals clearing out the corrals or tidying carts at the store entrance spend less time on that task and more time either bagging your purchases or managing the stock so you won’t have empty shelves. You’d rather having them chasing carts all over the parking lot?

Okay, moving on to other reasons why you don’t walk rarely more than thirty paces and sometimes as few as ten paces to return a cart. It’s such a bother. And not being able to pull into a parking space or risking a cart roll into your (or someone else’s car) is more convenient? Lots of people leave carts out. That is true and if you have children, you are teaching them that you can’t be bothered with a simple act of courtesy. If you have a child who is old enough,
why not have her or him perform the task? Oh yes, I did forget this one – someone is waiting for the parking place and they’ll wait longer if you take the cart back. It really doesn’t take that long and other cars can go around whoever is waiting.

The small act of not leaving carts in parking places or scattered around is symbolic of other aspects of civility that we seem to have either lost or no longer consider important. There are many things that have gone awry in this country that we cannot control, but whether or not to return a shopping cart is a personal choice that individuals make perhaps multiple times a week. This is a choice that is completely up to the individual and each time an individual
chooses to leave a cart in a parking place, the message is, I’m too busy/important, and/or everyone does it, I don’t care how my action
impacts anyone else.

When taken to a greater degree how different are these than traits that are seen in gridlocked politics and the type of greed that led to our current economic turmoil? No, I am not naively suggesting
that some of the big problems we face will magically be resolved if everyone is more considerate about shopping carts. But I will say that it’s an easy place to start.

2 thoughts on “Of Civility, Responsibility, and Shopping Carts….

  1. I am big on returning carts to their corrals as well. For me, I view it as a financial transaction and consideration as well. Putting my cart away means the store can keep lower prices because they need to spend fewer hours out in the parking lot rounding up wayward carts.

    For the same reason, if I decide against an item after picking it up, instead of just laying it anywhere, I hand it to the cashier and tell him/her that it is a “Go Back”. That is so much easier for the stores than having to look at every display for misplaced items.

    I view it as common courtesy to help keep everyone’s prices low … and fewer bumps and dents in cars.

    • Good point about the “hidden” overhead piece as well as being a considerate person. Thank you for bringing that up.


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