Here’s the deal. This week’s reader-suggested topic comes from Mr. Roger Waite…and it’s out of respect for his contribution that I am now resisting the strong urge to make a pun with his last name.
And a strong contribution it is – I mean, why do so many people find it so difficult to return their shopping carts? And, of course, this leads to the larger question – what is wrong with people?
But that’s far too big of an issue to deal with here. Let’s just stick with the carts. Surely we’ve all seen it – a grocery store parking lot where half of the spaces are taken by stray carts, where you have to slowly ease your vehicle in, gently pushing the cart aside with your bumper because some inconsiderate shopper couldn’t spare twenty seconds of their life to put something back where they found it. Are you with me, people?
They don’t even have to go back to the store, almost every establishment provides convenient cart corrals, mere feet from your car. And yet so many patrons choose to let their used carts graze the parking lot like free range cattle. I just don’t understand. It takes a unique, yet prevalent, form of oblivious conceit to be able to load up your car and then just randomly leave your cart where it sits, thinking to yourself, “Yeah, I think that’s where the cart goes…right there in the middle of the parking lot. That should be perfectly convenient for the rest of humanity.”
When the cart served your purposes, you were willing to wheel it all about the store and out to your car. But the moment you no longer need it, you abandon it like a Sherpa at sea level. How do you think that makes the cart feel? Used. Abused. Neglected.
So, how am I going to do it? How will I help selfish shoppers recall where they got the cart from and how to work their legs, in unison, to walk it back from whence it came? In Europe, you insert a one dollar coin to receive a cart and you get your dollar back when the cart is returned. So, apparently, the Europeans are no more trustworthy when it comes to cart returning, but they at least have developed a simple solution to the problem. I’d like to think it wouldn’t come to that. I’d like to think that we could all behave like responsible adults and not leave our toys out. I’d also like a six-figure job and a date with Diane Lane…none of that is likely to happen.
I can’t move to Europe (the commute would be unbearable). I can’t police the parking lots of America by myself (the commute would be unbearable). And I can’t get to DC to lobby the politicians to deal with this issue (the commute would be…well, you know).
I can’t even berate people when I see them leave their carts haphazardly strewn about. Because, unlike them, I actually think about how my actions affect others. My only idea is a giant magnet. It could be one guy’s job just to sit at the huge magnet and switch it on from time to time to retrieve these carts. And how about this – you could build mechanical clamps into the shopping cart handles. And then, if a shopper is about to abandon their empty cart – the clamps lock the shopper to the cart – the magnet turns on – and the inconsiderate consumer is magnetically driven across the lot to the cart return area. That way, they could learn where the carts go and then the magnet could be moved on to the next store. And the magnet guy could also help these disoriented shoppers find their way back to their automobiles…nah, I say we just leave the people where we found them.