We've all heard this one by now, right? Apparently, whether or not you return your shopping cart to the designated area reflects your entire moral code. Simplified, it boils down to: cart returners, good people. Non-returners, bad people. Take your date to the grocery store early on, and dump them if they don't return the cart (this last being questionable because (a) likely everyone knows about this test by now, and (b) most people behave better when we are being observed).
Why does this topic irritate me so much? Well, most obviously because I'm an occasional cart non-returner. I'd prefer not to think of myself as a sociopath, but not returning suggests a lack of consideration for others, an intrinsic selfishness. If everyone does the same, there will be parking lot mayhem, which is why those little cart corrals were invented in the first place. Presumably, it's more efficient for the employees to get the carts all from the corral, rather than having to dash all over the parking lot. Everyone returning the cart to the front of the store would be even better for efficiency, but clearly that idea didn't work, or we wouldn't be having this conversation!
I feel there are many worse things a person could do, at the grocery store alone. Just for starters, have you (or your date) done any of the following?
-taken someone's parking spot, even when they had their blinker on?
-scraped someone's car and then driven away? (no note, nothing)
-parked in the handicapped zone without a permit or any personal disability?
-attended the store when ill–maskless–coughing and sneezing on the produce?
-taken something from the freezer section, decided you didn't want it, and stuck it on a random shelf, rather than returning it to the freezer?
-failed to assist someone who couldn't reach the top shelf?
-butted into line because you were "in a rush?"
-dropped or spilled something and quickly sped off, rather than notifying the staff?
-sampled in the produce section (yes, it's stealing)?
-noticed the cashier missed an item, and didn't point it out (yes, it's stealing)?
-failed to speak to, assist, or donate to the person experiencing homelessness or the charity table set up as you leave?
-looked judgmentally at the person with the screaming toddler, rather than offering to help?
There are so many ways, all day, every day, that we show who we really are. Some days, we are our best selves. Some days, not so much. Hopefully, on our worst days, we don't do anything truly egregious or criminal; thankfully, most of us stop short.
I'm not, I hope you see, saying you shouldn't return your shopping cart to the designated area whenever possible, whether on a date or not. On the other hand, when I didn't do it, I wasn't a bad person. I'm simply human, with flaws like everybody else, who strives to do better, to be better. Perhaps this latter point is more important than any single behaviour: a willingness to say, how can I do better? Trying, and failing, trying again, only to identify another thing that needs adjustment. We are constantly in flux, constantly evolving.
We can't be fully understood through a shopping cart.
(What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts)
Hi, I'm Karen. This space is a chance for me to get some of those notebook sessions out there: Motherhood, medicine, writers and writing, the state of the world. Non-published, sometimes non-polished, just a chance to open a discussion. Let me know what you think!