Monday, April 5, 2010

Pet Peeves: Shopping Carts

I don’t have many pet peeves, and the few that I have are pretty common. Now, I’m not going to get into all of them on this post because that would make for a very long piece of writing and I’m sure you all have better things to do than hang around here reading my silly rants. So I’ll just write about one of them today and get to the others some time in the future.


One thing that annoys me is people not putting their shopping carts away after they’re done with them. Instead, they just dump them loose in the parking lot, wherever that may be. The worst offenders include individuals that dump their cart a few short feet away from a shopping cart corral because making that exhausting 10 – 15 second round trip to the corral and back to the car will kill them, and individuals that dump their carts in front of, against or behind someone else's car. Real nice.

I’m not sure why people behave in this manner. Is it a sense of entitlement? Do they believe that they’re somehow too important, too special for these mediocre chores, and because of their high-flying status, someone else should pick up after them?

Is it sheer laziness? And even if it is, no matter how lazy someone is, how much effort is required to walk a shopping cart over to the designated area with the big sign over it that reads “Please Deposit Your Shopping Carts Here”? It’s usually only a few steps away, anyway. And if these individuals can’t manage such a small amount of responsibility, which requires very little energy, how in the world do they handle the big things that require tons of effort?

Or is it simply bad manners? After all, not everyone cares about the fact that they share space with others, and that it’s common courtesy to pick up after one’s self, or that they should put whatever they’ve personally used away properly because the world is not there to pick up their slack.

I’d be curious to know what goes through this type of individual’s mind (if anything) when they dump their shopping cart in the middle of a parking lot despite the fact that there is a sign (clear as day with big letters) politely asking them to put away the cart in its proper place after they’re done with it.

The question to ask these individuals is:

“Why don’t you put away your shopping cart properly instead of dumping it in the middle of a parking lot where the wind might blow it into someone’s car?"

I imagine some possible answers would include:

1) “This mediocre chore doesn’t apply to me because I’m special. My mother told me so”
2) “I don’t care; the world is there to pick up after me”
3) “It’s not my car that might get hit, so who gives a diddly-squat”
4) “I’m illiterate; I can’t read”

Does this bother any of you? Or is it just me?

It’s probably just me. Sigh.


  1. No,'s definitely not just you. I feel the same way. And even if my car is parked a half mile from the shopping cart corral, I make the trek to put it back. It's just common courtesy, especially here in the mountains where so many stores are on a hilltop, with sloped parking lots where an errant cart can do real damage. I will say that I think some stores could make it a bit easier with more corrals. The grocery store I go to has a huge parking lot, but only two small corrals near the door, so sometimes it's quite a hike to put up the cart. But, still, I do it.

  2. I hate wrangling shopping carts altogether, so when James and I shop together all we can both carry is all we get - course that only works with a small family.

    Stores could definitely do their part by making sure all the carts have proper wheels as I've seen people try and steer them along and give up in frustration, but our local Superstore has the best solution - a dollar fee for cart. Believe me, they ALL get returned :) As for the chronic abandoners we'll file that under 'some people are a mystery that I'll never understand'.

  3. I guess I'm not alone, Beth! It's funny, but yesterday, the day I put up this post, I went shopping, and lo and behold, when I got out a cart was behind my car. I don't think it was put there; I think it was placed nearby and the wind blew it over, but still. It's so ironic that it would happen on the same day.

    I believe that because we share the world with others, we should pick up after ourselves and do our little part to make it pleasant for everyone.

    And yes, more corrals are definitely needed in some parking lots, but a few extra steps won't kill anyone; in fact, it may do them some good.

    I hate the whole shopping experience, Tatiana, to be honest :)

    We have a store like that too; you have to pay a quarter to get a cart, and then you have to return the cart to get it back. The carts are all chained together, so you have no choice. There isn't one shopping cart abandoned in the parking lot. Even though it's just a quarter, people want it back and end up taking back their cart to the designated area.

  4. well, you're not alone. laziness in general gets under my skin. but, having been a grocery store manager for seven years, that annoyance is higher with all things related to a grocery store. shopping carts cost about $275 and the several corrals that are put out are to protect that investment and to control damages to cars caused by one of the carts. typically, the store is not responsible for damages caused by carts in the lot, unless it can be shown that the store was completely negligent and had a parking lot full of carts. it is still partly the responsibility of customers to return the carts that are provided for their use. i think that, more than the other options you gave, people don't return them because they say, "it's not my job. after all, the store has about twenty sackers to round up the carts, why should i have to seek out a corral and put it up?" having worked in the grocery industry, i know how difficult it is for those little sacker guys to round up every one of those carts several times a day in the rain and blazing sun - even those carts that have been pushed up over the curb and into the grass at the end of the parking lot because people are too lazy to help another soul out. ridiculous. i will often grab another customer's cart as i'm walking through the parking lot if they are finished with it, just so i can save the poor sacker's back.

  5. Those are good points roundrockgarden. Although there are employees responsible for rounding up the carts, they're not going to be out there all day long, although they should make sure that the corrals are not overly loaded. As customers, we do share the parking lot, so if you dump your cart in the middle of nowhere on a windy day, that cart may be blown into someone else's car. If that happened to you, I'm sure it would upset you. It takes little effort to walk a cart to its designated effort.