Peeves, Vexations, and the Golden Rule

My daughter and I went errand-running and shopping yesterday. At one place, a small “country” store, she took our cart back to the part where the various sized carts are kept while I paid for our items. She came back, seething. While she was there, at least three people “returned” their carts by shoving them through the doorway willy-nilly. She sorted them out and put them away. Right now, she’s wearing a medical support boot after her splint from ankle surgery was removed, and she pointed out that it really wasn’t that hard to walk ten more feet to put them away. She was very vocal about it. I bet the woman behind us put her cart away properly.

I sympathize with her completely, and in fact, she asserted that it was something she learned from me. I never understood and still don’t understand why people can’t return shopping carts in a way that doesn’t make it a headache for the person who has to come out and fetch them. Imagine taking 3-5 extra minutes to put a large cart in with the large carts and the mini carts in with the mini carts just so the cart fetcher doesn’t have to spend 10 extra minutes in pouring rain or blazing sun, or freezing air to sort the things into chains. Is that really so difficult? Is that much time so crucial that it would ruin your day to make someone else’s life easier?

When I was in college, if I had to empty someone’s clothes out of a dryer so I could use it, I folded it. It wasn’t entirely precise, but it had to be better than dumping it in a heap on top of the dryer. In that case, I used maybe 10 minutes of my time to treat a stranger the way I’d like to be treated. Now, I usually found my own dry stuff dumped on top of the dryer, but that wasn’t the point. I like to measure my life by what I do, not what I get.

It’s not that I think I’m perfect. I’m capable of selfish behavior, and at times I am even unapologetic about it. But there are a few places where I can rise above it, and I’ll do what I can when I can. I’m not looking for a medal for rearranging the cart corral.  I’m pretty sure the people who collect the carts might not even notice. Maybe they don’t care. But I know, and I care, and that’s enough for me. Even better, I’ve created a tiny legacy because my daughter follows my example. (At the Mart of K, our next stop on our shopping expedition, she counted three cart-abandoners, one right in the way of the exit door, as she waited for me to pick her up. (Slush plus an orthotic boot do not make a happy combination.) I daresay that she will carry on with the small tradition of restoring shopping carts to their rightful place.

Now if I could only get her to do the dishes more often….

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3 responses

  1. I like that you do things because it’s the right thing to do. I wish more people did that. Even if no one noticed, you made your little corner of the world a brighter, happier place.

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