I thought my job was done.
It has been a while since I have written about grocery carts. I thought the cart warriors had won the war, and all carts were being returned to their proper places. Sadly, I have noticed of late that those in rebellion of common courtesy have begun to pop up again. We drove the villains to their hiding spots, but they have become emboldened again, emerging from their dark hiding spots to wreak havoc on humanity.
The first offense on decency came in a grocery store parking lot. I turned into a rather full parking lot and was set to park. As I turned into a spot, I noticed a cart, sitting just inside the back right corner of the spot. The spot was right next to a cart corral, my preferred parking spot. Clearly, leaving the cart within six feet of the cart corral was not simply this person’s laziness. This was a symbol. A message. That person was parked right by the corral, and it would have taken the same energy to push it into the corral as it would to push alongside their car and abandon it inside the parking spot. An isolated incident? I wish.
A few days later, I was at another store. There, as I walked toward the store, I saw another message — a cart, parked right in the middle of one of the lanes, just sitting there blocking traffic because, hey, why not be a blight on humanity and throw off everyone’s day for yucks?
Clearly, this person had loaded up their purchases in their trunk and then said, “You know what, I hate everyone else on the planet, so let me just send this bad boy gently rolling through the parking lot where it will come to rest in the middle of a prime traffic spot and, if I’m lucky, a gust of wind will send it crashing into a minivan a few spots down, smashing out the back taillight just so some harried mom with three kids in tow can come out in about 20 minutes and complete a shopping trip in which not a single child would behave or listen with finding her car anonymously damaged. That would make her day markedly worse, and would thus complete my mission of making the decent people of America have a bad day made worse.”
In both incidents, I did the responsible thing: I dusted for fingerprints, found the perp, went to their home and called a press conference to share with the world their violations. Or I returned the carts. One of those two.
Alas, there is still a glimmer of hope that my cart warriors are still ready to spring into action. Perhaps our peacetime has led all of us to complacency, and it’s just a matter of needing some rejuvenated spirit and a reminder that there are still foes out there, shadowy monsters who lie low until they think no one is looking. Let’s remind them all — we are all still looking, and our look is a disapproving glare and, if necessary, a shake of the head and a “Tsk, tsk, tsk” under our breaths.
I know I have beaten this dead horse, revived the horse and beaten it again. But folks — it’s simple: Put. Your. Carts. Up. And by all means enlist your youngest soldiers. My son is 10, and he, without even be asked, will venture from me on the way into a grocery store and ask if he can help take someone’s cart in to the store.
So cart warriors, you are needed again. Return your carts. Take them to the corral or, if you want a little extra exercise, take them all the way back in. And teach your children well, good people. Have the next generation of cart warriors start as my children have, extending the hand of goodness that creates the grocery cart warrior we need in to continue to stamp out this menace.
You will feel good when you park your cart in the appropriate place. And, when you offer cart help to a fellow or potential fellow cart warrior, I am a firm believer that said person pays it forward. At least they better. Or I’m calling a press conference at their house.
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @StandardMike.