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Do You Return Your Shopping Cart? This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

Maybe I’m a little OCD, but one of my biggest pet peeves is when people don’t return their shopping carts back to the cart corral. I just hate seeing shopping carts in a parking lot. What’s even worse is when the shopping carts are left in the best parking spots—blocking what you would like to be your parking space. And what’s even worse is when people do it when it’s windy. The wind blows around, and the carts just fly everywhere—in some cases, dinging people’s cars. While I was in the car at Smith’s grocery store, I noticed how many people left their cart in the parking lot. In the islands in the parking lot. In the best parking spaces. Shopping carts were everywhere. And this bothered me. I went home that day and added the following to the list of attributes my future husband must have. In bold, capital letters, it reads: MUST PUT SHOPPING CART BACK IN THE CART CORRAL. That will be the ultimate test for my future husband. When you return your shopping carts, you make it easier on the workers (no, they are not employed to pick up after you.), you don’t have to worry about dinging someone else’s—or your own—car, and you show common courtesy. And all for only an extra thirty seconds! So why are people not returning their shopping carts?

The employees at companies aren’t employed to pick up after you. YOU are responsible for your own actions, your own messes, and your own shopping carts. Sure, some employees are more than willing to help you carry this “big load of responsibility.” But don’t you think they have better things to do? Especially in the winter. Would you want to be out in the cold, snowy, icy, rainy nights gathering shopping carts as if you were born to be some shopping cart herder? I highly doubt anyone would! And now, because a few people decided that they didn’t have those thirty seconds to spare, or that those “precious” seconds are too much of a hassle with their kids, or whatever excuse it might be, people are now spending thirty minutes to an hour picking up YOUR mess. And it would have taken you only thirty seconds. I mean, isn’t it just common courtesy to put your shopping cart away? Do we really live in a society where we expect everything to be done for us? Even something as simple as putting our shopping carts back?

Once, at Target, I saw a lady stick her shopping cart with the wheels up in the island, by some bushes. But it was an extremely windy day, and the wind literally picked up her shopping cart, and dinged her car. After, she placed the shopping cart back in the island—again. And the same thing happened—again. All I could think was that it served her right! She was trying to save time, when actually she spent more time than she would have if she just walked back to return her shopping cart in the first place.

I would hate to be a shopping cart herder. I would be so frustrated—gathering these shopping carts around as if they were wild animals—flying in the wind. You know what would make my day? It would make my day if I saw someone put their cart back. It would make me so happy that I would smile, and my smile would catch on to a friend’s smile I saw later that day. And that friend’s smile would pass my smile on to her mom. And then her mom would catch that smile. And her mom would take it to work with her. And it would spread across the entire office, and then Mexico, and Italy, and that smile would have been recycled so many times that it would cross the entire globe, and eventually that smile would have been everywhere and back to me—all because someone decided to take thirty seconds to put their shopping cart back where it belongs. And you ask what difference it makes to put a shopping cart away? What difference can thirty seconds to make?

I wonder if people would return their shopping cart if they got something back in return. Maybe as you entered the cart back into the corral, and as it pushed against the other carts, coupons, money, lottery tickets, gum, Ipads, and other prizes would come out of a little slot as a token of the shopping herder’s appreciation. But then again—do we really need a motive to put our shopping carts back in the corral? Do we need the corral to shoot out a sticker, or a lollipop, or a discount, or a lottery ticket to say thank you for showing common courtesy? Maybe we have just been trained to do things if and only if we got something back in return all our life. Think about it. Ever since you were little, you’ve been bribed. You cleaned your room? You get to play with your friends that afternoon. You did your chores? You get an allowance. You get good grades in school? You get to eat out at a fancy restaurant—oh, and dad’s buying. Have we been trained to only do something if something is in it for us? To clean our rooms only if we got the last cookie in the cookie jar? To not be a pest on the car ride home from Disneyland only if you got to sit in the front seat?

Maybe I am a little OCD, but maybe I’m not. Maybe I do think of random qualifications that my future husband must have, but then again, maybe I don’t. Maybe my innocent car has been dinged once or twice by an abandoned shopping cart, or maybe I’ve been the ding-dong and have accidentally dinged a few cars myself. But maybe, I believe that not returning your shopping cart is just rude. Maybe I believe that it’s the small things in life, like returning your shopping cart, that really count. It’s the small things like that that change the world. Small things turn into great things—after all, the big things are made up of nothing but small things. And if we want a better future, we need to do the small things that really count. Even if it’s just taking an extra thirty seconds to return a shopping cart. And who knows? Maybe a couple of shopping carts really can change the world. You decide.





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