Our recent Backstage event, live at the legendary Ryman Auditorium here in Nashville, went well aside from one tense moment. During the audience Q&A portion, I was asked to identify the number one sign of our cultural decay. I did not hesitate in my response. The greatest indicator of our decay and collapse, I said, is that so many people fail to properly put their shopping carts away.
My colleagues on stage stared back at me in awkward silence. The audience laughed nervously. Apparently, they were all expecting a different answer. But they should have known better. In fact, I have been one of the leading activists on this issue for many years. It has been a lonely campaign. Most of the time I have felt like a voice in the wilderness, a forsaken prophet in sackcloth and ashes, crying unto the people, “Put away ye carts, O shoppers. Make straight our parking lots.”
Sadly, my message has not been heeded. The situation has only deteriorated in recent times, and now every parking lot in America is a literal minefield of shopping carts. I went to Target a few weeks ago and, surveying the scene outside, I briefly wondered whether the Rapture had just occurred and all of these shoppers had been beamed into Heaven leaving their carts where they stood. But I knew that couldn’t be the case because there’s no way that so many Target shoppers made the cut. No, these people had all ditched their carts on purpose.
Am I making too much of this? Is this issue worth all of the blood and tears I have shed over it? Yes, undoubtedly. For one thing, your abandoned cart may cause real physical harm to someone else’s property. That cart has four wheels (give or take, if you’re shopping at Walmart). It takes only a slight breeze to turn the object into a projectile, a torpedo, slamming into some poor sap’s side panel. Yes, the damage may be minimal but the effort required to avoid the damage is even more minimal. And that’s the point.
This is an issue of principle, first and foremost. The fact that it’s a small issue is exactly what makes it a very large issue. If you cannot be bothered to make the tiniest sacrifice in order to save someone else from property damage — and to do your part to keep our parking lots neat and orderly — then you certainly cannot be counted on to make larger sacrifices. If you will not do the right thing in the parking lot, when it costs you nothing, then how much more likely are you to shirk from your responsibilities in more urgent situations where the cost is much higher?
If you return your shopping carts, you deserve to let people know in this tee. And if you know someone who does not return their shopping carts, you should wear this around them.
I know the ditchers have their excuses. I have heard them all. Every demographic thinks they ought to be issued special exemptions: mothers with young children, the elderly, the disabled, the obese, etc. But no matter your circumstance, the fact that you have a cart in the first place, and that you have just proved capable of pushing it around Kroger for 45 minutes, tells me that you are more than capable of returning it from whence it came. You managed to retrieve the cart, push the cart, fill the cart, navigate through aisles with the cart, swerve around end caps and unruly children with the cart, and now all of a sudden you are unable to walk an additional 23 steps to deposit it in its proper receptacle? You’re either suffering from an extremely convenient form of paralysis, or you’re lazy. I’m guessing the latter.
So, return the cart. It is the right thing to do. Most of us will rarely be in a position to exhibit extraordinary heroism in this life. We lead ordinary lives and our character is tested in only ordinary ways. That’s why we cannot falter in these small moments. We will ultimately be defined by the doors we hold and the shopping carts we return. Let us not fail when the spotlight, however dim, shines upon us.
Am I getting too dramatic about all of this? Yes, but still, return your damned cart.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.