Honoring the grocery cart warriors

The other night, a woman approached me and said, “You don’t know me, and I don’t know you, but I just wanted to tell you that I ALWAYS put my cart up.”

Ma’am, you are the reason I should carry around medals stamped with Decent Human on them and hand them out to the unsung heroes of society.

I have written many times about my pet peeve of folks not returning carts, and it always makes my day when someone tells me that they are a member of the Cart Warriors, those who not only return their carts to the store or the corral but even on occasion grab a wild cart that someone else has left to roam free in a parking lot.

Alas, despite my vigilant effort at making the world a better place one stray shopping cart at a time, I have encountered resistance and, occasionally, thinly veiled threats.

For example:

  • I have received input from folks who tell me they are physically unable to return the carts and do not appreciate what they feel is a finger wagging directed at them. I assure these folks that my disregard for a failure of common courtesy is never directed at those who have physical limitations. Rather, I am referring to the person who is perfectly capable of moving a cart a whopping 10 feet to a corral, but would rather send it careening across the parking lot, maybe even with the added bonus of smashing into someone else’s car. And know this: if someone is laboring to get to their car and unload their groceries, it is my hope that the Cart Warriors will rally up and offer to take that person’s cart from them. We’re here to help.
  • I have received input from grocery store employees who have said their time for relaxation and retrospect is their hiatus from stocking shelves when they go and round up carts. All well and good, but that doesn’t make life for us trying to simply park our cars any easier. The main thing I ask the Cart Warriors is to return the carts to the corral. While I appreciate those who return the carts to the store, I understand where the employees are coming from. We can make our focus on corralling. That said, I still maintain that Decent Human medals should be awarded to anyone who returns a race car cart back inside the store when it’s clear a rain is coming. As someone who has plopped a kid into many a soaking race car cart, I know that, when you’re shopping with little kids, you need all the help you can get.
  • I have received input from people who think that my fixation with grocery carts is something I need to let go, and that there are bigger fish to fry in the world. Folks, I’m not Nelson Mandela here. I’m just looking to add a little common decency to the world.
  • I have received input from people who have offered me a lot of money to help them with an international monetary exchange. Pretty sure that was spam and had nothing to do with grocery carts.

Bottom line – revolutions always meet resistance. There may be some people who feel my quest to make the world a better place through shopping carts is misguided or even, dare I say, idiotic. But I believe in the Cart Warriors. The positive comments I have received via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, face to face or even the occasional carrier pigeon has been enough encouragement to help me keep the fight alive.

Full disclosure: I have not, in fact, received a grocery cart note via carrier pigeon. In fact, I have never received a note via carrier pigeon, but it’s pretty high up on my bucket list, so if any of you can make it happen, props to you.

But the point is — keep putting your carts up. Or help those who may have difficulty doing so. We may meet some naysayers along the way. But in the end, we know what we’re doing is the right thing. It’s a small step to building a better world – a world in which we help out our fellow shopper or make the next shopper’s day a little better. It’s the least we can do. And it might earn you a medal.

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