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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Putting back the shopping cart and my Tao of Life

For our book group this month, we read "This I Believe"- excerpts from the NPR series in the 50's and revived recently.  It's a collection of essays written by every day people, famous people, and infamous people which are then read on the radio show.  We tasked each other with writing our own essays.  Since I'm blogging and time is a premium item I'm using it for both!  

I believe in putting back the shopping cart.  

I think that the world is split into 2 types of people, those of us who put the shopping carts back into the corral after using them and those who do not.

I put the cart back for a number of reasons:

  1. They put the corrals all over so they must want me to put the cart back.
  2. If I don't put it back, it could scratch someone's car.
  3. I don't like to take up an extra parking space with a loose cart.
  4. I think it's a safety hazard to have carts roaming freely throughout the parking lot.
  5. It saves the bag kid the hassle of chasing loose carts around.
  6. It's very simple to do.

In summary, I put the cart back because it's the nice thing to do.  It's because I care about your car and your safety as much as I care about my own. 

People who do not put the cart back- and you know who you are-- simply do not care about anyone except themselves.  They are far too busy with their lives to be worried about you.  They feel they are more important than the rest of us.  They don't have to follow the rules.

Quite simply, they are assholes.

They are the people who text while they drive, tailgate, talk on cell phones during movies and at restaurants, cut you off to be first at a light, don't use turn signals, yell at the flight attendant because they overpacked their carry-on, treat the Starbucks barista like he is a personal servant, or if they are the barista act like you're a moron for taking more than 5 seconds to order, and generally think the world owes them something.

Perhaps I am being a bit harsh, but this is what I actually believe. 

Now I realize that from time to time, you have a screaming kid, the wheel is jammed on the cart, you have to pee, the corral is full- no one is perfect. 

But honestly, it takes about 2 minutes to return the cart.  That's it.  It takes 2 minutes to make sure that you do your part to make the world a little more organized, a little safer, and little bit better.  Of course it's easier to ditch the cart and expect someone else to deal with it, but what if everyone took 2 minutes to do something that had no immediate benefit to themselves- how nice would that be?  Wouldn't it be great to to see an empty spot, turn to pull in and NOT have a wayward cart rolling back and forth blocking you?  Or to come out and NOT have a big scratch along your car door?

I believe that cart-putter-backers (CPB's) are always hopeful that the non-cart-putter-backers (NCPB'S) are going to change.  They have hope that the NCPB's are simply having a bad day.   I believe, that most NCPB's have no clue that the CPB's even exist.  If they do, they mock us.  Silly rule followers we are.

As a CPB, I think we need to ban together and accept, on some level, that if we want a safe, scratch-free parking lot that we will have to put back a few of the NCPB's carts.  I also think that when we see someone abandon a cart, we should politely say "Excuse me, do you need help putting that back?"  Or the more subtle "Oh, if you're going to leave that there, I will use it.  I don't want it to scratch my car."  We need to wake them up and make them care.  We need to show them that by not returning their cart, they are giving the rest of the world a giant middle finger.

We need to hold them accountable. We need to let them know that it is NOT okay to be inconsiderate.  They should not be left off the hook.  It should not be cool to not care.   

Our society is continuing to gravitate toward the goal of being cool rather than kind, looking out for number one.  That terrifies me.  I don't see how that could ever work.  Shopping carts would be running amok.
We need to be more polite.  We need to be more aware of how our actions impact others.  We need to worry less about what's cool and more about what's kind.  Like putting back things when you're done.

Granted, I may never have been the cool one (as evidenced by the many photos of me in hats) but I've always tried to be kind.  When things go wrong, I have a very long list of people that will be there for me.  To me, that is success.  Fancy cars, big houses, don't define a person.  I have a hard time thinking that the guy who wedges the cart between two other cars cares about anyone else; and my guess is. eventually no one will care about him.  If you struggle to complete your In Case of Emergency list, this is you.

So maybe if everyone in the world started putting back the carts, simply because it's the nice thing to do, the world would have a lot less dents and scratches.


Anonymous said...

I tend to grab one of the orphaned carts when I go to the a longtime CPB, I like to think that I am changing the world one lost cart at a time...

Rita said...

I've never thought much about my compulsion to put the cart back...despite the weather, the time, the screaming child. If, for any reason, I do not put the cart back it will bother me..sometimes for days...or the next time I pull into that parking lot and remember. I am now proud to be a CPB. I hope more will join us...and maybe be just a little nicer to the clerk, take the time to throw away the garbage, let that person with the turn-signal on merge in front of you. For now, I'll watch the cart corrals and smile when I see them used.

Kimberly said...

I am a proud CPB! My mom drilled it into my head as a child...leave things better than you found them, don't annoy people (i.e., snap your gum) and above all ALWAYS put the cart back. It's just the kind thing to do.

Me said...

I am a CPB as well. Reading this made me laugh out loud... and yes, I'm typing it out because I ACTUALLY did. Good work! I like your mantra. :-)

Deanne Medina said...

I am a CBP as well. I also define people by whehter or not they say "thank you" to the bus boy in a restaurant. Most people thank the server but they ignore the bus boy when he fills the water or clears the table. I actually called a colleague out on this at lunch one time. She looked at me like I was nuts. That was about a year ago and since that time, she has definitely proven to me to be one of those people that is incredibly self-important. So here's to all the CPB's of the world!!!