Are you a cart returner or cart deserter?

Published 7:00 pm Tuesday, May 19, 2020

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It was a case of behavioral targeting that took a real-life twist.

Bored out of my mind with another “Stay-at-Home” order day, I turned to Facebook this past Saturday night to pass a few more moments with absolutely nowhere to go and nothing to do.

I did happen to view an interesting post shared by a friend. It was written in September, 2016 by Craig Dacy who authored an opinion entitled: “What Returning Your Shopping Cart Says About You.”

Like Mr. Dacy, I have a pet peeve about those who opt not to take a few extra steps and steer a shopping cart back to those convenient “return islands” scattered about the parking lots of most retail stores….particularly grocery stores. Nothing irks me more than to search for a decent parking spot, only to find an empty cart sitting abandoned and blocking my path. What makes it even worse is the fact that there’s a cart return conveniently close by.

Mr. Dacy labeled shoppers as either cart returners or cart deserters. He says whichever side of the line you stand on says a lot about you.

“When you take the time to return your cart to its receptacle, you’re showing that you care about the employees of the grocery store,” Dacy wrote. “You acknowledge that if you don’t put the cart away, someone else will have to do it for you. Basically it shows that you’re not a selfish person.

“Successful people put others first. Instead of being wrapped up in things that benefit them, they look for ways to help and serve those around them,” he added.

Dacy also pointed out a personal attribute that I’ve always believed says the most about the way a person lives his or her life….are they disciplined?

What if it’s raining, or you have a child in your vehicle that’s crying. Do you return the cart or do you break your normal habits?

“Walking the 10 spaces shows you’re disciplined. You’ve committed yourself to a moral standard that you won’t break,” Dacy emphasized. “Discipline is an attractive quality in people. Employers look for it in their employees and people look for it in their potential mates. They want to know they can trust you to do the right thing no matter what the circumstances.”

Then there’s the mandatory “pat on the back” for doing the right thing. Plus you know that other people just witnessed you taking the time to return the cart to its proper place.

“The walk back to your car can be empowering. You did the right thing. Hold your head up high, pump your fist in the air, and consider that walk as your victory lap,” Dacy wrote.

Yea, sure…..but it’s just a shopping cart. Is leaving it for someone else to move make you a bad person?

“There are hundreds of excuses for someone to leave their cart propped up on a grassy median or left between parking spaces,” Dacy said. “Maybe they’re in a hurry; maybe they are physically unable to walk that extra few feet. Maybe they’re trying to escape the dirty looks they’re getting because their oversized truck is parked across two spaces.”

That last sentence you just read came to life right in front of my eyes this Sunday. I was at Piggly Wiggly in Ahoskie, wheeling my cart, loaded with groceries, towards my truck. At the exact same moment, another man was performing the identical task. As fate would have it, he was parked directly in front of me.

I removed my bags from the cart and placed them inside my truck. There was a cart return island one row behind my truck. I walked there to return my cart.

Upon my short walk back, I noticed the other man had finished placing the bags inside his truck. He shoved the cart to his right, blocking the adjacent empty parking space.

Low and behold, his truck was parked straddled the line, thus taking up two spaces.

I couldn’t help but laugh (under my breath, of course). Successful/caring/disciplined people never, ever make fun of others.

Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at cal.bryant& or 252-332-7207.


About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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