The shopping cart debate

With our country divided on numerous topics, it seems something as simple as returning a shopping cart to the corral can spark a debate.

Recently, a rogue cart hit a friend’s car in a grocery store lot. Most likely, the wind took it from its abandoned location and whipped it into the side of her vehicle. But should it have been roaming around free or nestled back into its allocated spot?

I realize it is considered “someone’s job” to retrieve the carts. I understand that. It’s also someone’s job to pick up spills, but I don’t deliberately make a mess just because someone cleans up any mishaps.

One excuse I’ve heard for not returning a grocery cart is to ensure people remain employed. As if wrangling carts from the four corners of a parking lot would keep a person gainfully employed. The wheeled carts still need moving from the corral back to the shop. That is difficult enough. I find that excuse to be the most difficult to believe.

Sometimes there are reasons people can’t put away their cart. Perhaps they are disabled and shopping without assistance. They could also have small children in the car and could not park near the store entrance and cart return carousel.

There is even a “shopping cart theory” via social media that equates returning a shopping cart with the ability to self-govern. The theory surmises that returning a shopping cart isn’t required, but, unless an emergency, is easy to accomplish. It is also not illegal to leave it. A person doesn’t gain anything by returning the cart (unless at Aldi’s where you get your quarter returned.) but the personal satisfaction of being a good grocery cart citizen.

The grocery cart scratched my friend’s car, but she took it all in stride. I learned from our conversation it’s easier to judge than be judged.

Perhaps the shopping cart theory should analyze more than our righteousness about shopping cart etiquette and more about neighbor helping neighbor? Would it make a difference if we worried less about why the carts aren’t put away and focused on helping people in need of service? I’m not sure. What do you do with the grocery carts you use?


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