, , , , , ,

This is a plea for a return to sanity I send to all my fellow humans. Please guys, can we stop taking shopping carts above and beyond their intended purposes? For this, I mean to address the taking of shopping carts outside their stores’ parking lots, way beyond the bounds of natural usage, to places where shopping carts are just not supposed to go.

For example, I live not far from a shopping center. Occasionally (especially in nice weather), I see an abandoned cart or a couple of people inexplicably walking a cart along the side of the road, far beyond the reasonable bounds of usual shopping cart usage. It’s unlikely that they’ll return the cart, and I doubt that the shopping center is about to send an hourly employee off site to search for their abandoned carts to get them back.

So what ends up happening to these unwanted carts? They pollute my neighborhood, left stuffed into the common areas, or at the bus stops, or in the woods, eyesores all. Some shops have started to have smart approaches to this problem. Like Aldi (at least the one where I grew up) required a coin to release the cart from the stack, which could only be retrieved once you returned it. Another store, TJ Maxx (again, at least the one near me) has safety devices which lock the wheels of the cart if they even leave the store. Extreme? Yes, perhaps. But you never see any of their carts littering the parking lot or anywhere else for that matter.

I’m sure, my dear reader, you’re going, well obviously these people are monsters for abandoning carts like this, but what about the gray areas? You mean, for example, like the person I saw over my lunch break today? Well, I’m so glad you asked. Let me tell you this little story. I was walking to a small local deli shop within a larger shopping center (the one with the TJ Maxx and their awesome cart policy, ironically enough) and a woman had her young daughter (probably about 1.5-2-ish years old) stuffed in a purple Babies R Us cart.

Nothing wrong there, I thought. That was until she tried to get inside the deli. See, unlike the other stores with those magic double doors that spring open as you step close, this one was a manual single door that was clearly NOT designed for a giant retail cart to be brought through. Stroller? Yes! Wheelchair? Absolutely!! Cart not belonging to the deli clearly borrowed beyond the bounds of its original intent? NO! Turn back! Go back to your car, drop off your crap and walk your kid over like a sane human being.

But people actually were making huge efforts for her as she struggled under the weight of her bad decision, and she was blocking all incoming and outgoing traffic for the deli with this nonsense. When she finally got inside, she blocked all three registers with her cart so that literally no one else could give their order. And, as we waited for our food at the other end of the counter, she shopping cart took up far more real estate than was fair. I’ve seen double strollers take up less space. And unapologetically as she did this, I was finally able to get my food and get out of there.

I should have stuck around to see how she intended to eat her lunch at a table with this kid still stuck in the cart. And, perhaps I’m being a bit harsh, but at the same point, this lady doesn’t get to claim “only mother on planet earth” and take up every inch of space with this monstrosity (the cart, not the surprisingly well-behaved kid), and like it. So, I did what any normal person was like, I snapped an unidentifying photo and texted it my best friend and judged her silently over text messages until I felt better. Well, that is until I got a chance to tell you guys. Seriously, if this is you, please stop. There’s better ways to be a good citizen and mother at the same time.