Shopping Carts

It seems like I’ve had a love/hate relationship with shopping carts over the years, so when I saw the following article on my social media feed, I stopped to read it. I also knew, without stopping to think, what type of cart caretaker I am!  I always return my cart! So, according to the article below, I am a “returner.”

Scientific American: Anthropology in Practice: Why Don’t People Return Their Carts?

This comes as little surprise as I know I am a rule follower, and have been for much of my life.  I view rules as being there for a reason and do as much as I can to follow the rules set forth. This applies to course rules, like on a syllabus, and more obtuse rules that govern my life, such as being honest and truthful, even if it gets me in trouble.  It also spills over to my sense of commitment. If I say I am going to do something, you can bet, I will do it! So, I show up to appointments, meetings, and work on time and rarely miss a day. I even took my volunteering so seriously that in 14 years of garden club, I never cancelled a meeting and only switched a meeting day twice! Yes, I am a rule follower.  If there is a place to put my shopping cart in the parking lot, I use it and put my cart where it belongs – in the corral.


Some of this might be due to feeling bad for the cart attendants who slosh around in slush when the weather hovers between rain and snow, or when we are experiencing those ever intensity increasing rain storms during the summer.  One of my sons worked as a cart attendant at his first job and it is not easy work. Dodging people, cars, and carts can be a dangerous business, believe me! He had stories to tell! So, I sympathize with the cart attendants.

But, I remember when there weren’t any cart corrals. Each Friday night, growing up we would grocery shop. I dutifully watched my parents, usually my Dad, return the cart to the storefront. We never left it in the parking lot to cause chaos for drivers or ding parked cars. shopping-cart-1026507_1920


However, I mentioned having a love – hate relationship with shopping carts. Years ago, before we moved to the midwest, I was shopping with my son who had gotten tall enough that I could not lift him into the front of a traditional cart.  To solve this, I had begun to use the carts with the plastic extender in the front where kids climb into and sit.

One day while checking out, a woman with two kids approached me from the exit end of the checkout lane at the register where I was paying for my groceries. She asked for my cart. I replied sure, as soon as I am finished putting my groceries in the car, I’ll bring it back for you.

“No!” she exclaimed! “I need it now! There are no more carts! I have two kids and you only have one!”


That simple phrase, “I have two kids and you only have one” stabbed me in the heart! Little did she know my husband and I were going through an infertility work-up at the time. I was being bullied into giving up my shopping cart because I did not have enough children to qualify for using it, according to her!  At that time in my life, I wanted to have more children more than anything else in the world. It was so difficult! And, here was a stranger yelling at me in the middle of a crowded check out at the grocery store, over using a shopping cart because she had more kids!

It is a somewhat longer story. But, suffice it to say that she stuck to her demands to have the cart immediately and the grocery store manager suggested I give it to her,  probably to avoid a scene. He then helped me to the car with my groceries while my three-year old walked beside me.

It is a story that changed my life.  We went home and I told my husband, who had been contemplating we move our tiny family out of the area, that I was ready to do it!  Within a year,  we had moved to the midwest and fortunately, went on to have more children. Consequently, I have never argued about a shopping cart again, but I do put them where they belong!



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