Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I am the 1%!

I did some grocery shopping yesterday. The store wasn't too busy, but it was busy enough that there wasn't a person available to bag my groceries as they were being rung up. So I just bagged them myself. To be honest, I prefer bagging them, but I let baggers do it when they are there. After paying, I pushed the cart to my car, unloaded, then--as I always do--I returned to cart to car corral.

It's struck me in the past that I'm one of the few people I've ever seen that does this. I've always done it--returned my cart--for as long as I have been able to drive, whenever I shop at a grocery store or any other place that uses carts. Given that, I decided to observe for a while. Forty five minutes later, no one else--that used a cart to bring their groceries out--had bothered to return the cart to the store's cart corral. Some pushed the cart into an empty parking space, others put the front wheels of their cart up on landscaping medians, others just left it in the space between their car and the one next to them. A few even left the cart directly behind someone else's car.

In his novel Friday, Robert Heinlein wrote:
But a dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot.
Some might argue that grocery stores expect people to leave their carts in the parking lot, that they actually plan for it. And that's true, but understand that it's not what the stores want; it's something they have had to adjust to. Growing up, my father did the weekly shopping for our family and I usually went with him. To the best of my memory, most people returned their carts themselves, there were no store employees patrolling the lot, gathering orphaned carts. It just wasn't a consideration.

But things change.

Now, it would seem that people have no qualms with leaving the cart in the parking lot, by and large. And--this action aside--these people are average, everyday people: some dressed well, some not well, some older, some younger, some with families, some by themselves. This is a ninety-nine percent we aren't hearing much about in the Occupy movements.

Now, I know am not alone, that there are others that behave as I do, when it comes to carts. And I know that this behavior doesn't mean we're better people as a matter of course. But what it does mean is that--at the very least--we're not worse people, we have at least some measure of manners, some sense of propriety. What disturbs me the most, however, is the idea that we really are the one percent.

Cheers, all.


  1. I'm with you on the manners, on the concern about cultural decline, but here's something to consider:

    Though I return grocery carts now, when my kids were infants and toddlers (and let me tell you, they were real escape artists as toddlers) I often didn't. I took care to park right by the sidewalk that wound around the grocery store, and then I'd leave the cart on the sidewalk, so it wouldn't damage other cars, but I couldn't leave my kids in the car alone while I returned a cart.

    My husband worked in a grocery store for years, and never understood why people would abandon nearly full grocery carts in the store, until he had to abandon one himself in order to deal with a tantrum-throwing toddler.

    So, yes, some people do things like this because they're just rude or thoughtless. But sometimes there are other reasons.

    And societal decline is another reason not to leave kids alone in the car . . .

  2. Thanks for the comments, Word Wrestler.

    I've usually done my shopping with one or more of my kids, from the time they were babies, onward. The return of the cart is just part of the routine for us. In fact, after returning the cart, we would all weigh ourselves on the big scale in front of the store. That or I would maybe buy them Pokemon cards or bubblegum from the machines there.

    That said, I know there are sometimes good reasons, justifiable reasons.