Cart returns: the moral dilemma (that shouldn’t exist)


Jamie Henderson, Editor-in-Chief

Picture this: a busy mother with two kids in the backseat of her minivan cruises into a parking lot. She can sense that a war is brewing behind her back, and she knows that if she doesn’t get her impatient kids out of the car soon, fists (or toy trucks) will surely fly. She searches, desperately, for a place to park; the rows are packed like sardine cans. Finally, lo and behold, she sees what appears to be an empty space. With silent tears of joy threatening to pour, she makes her way to the spot, begins to turn, and . . . There’s a shopping cart blocking her entrance. She continues her search, but to no avail—the kids are cranky, and she has to turn around and go back home without her groceries.

If that doesn’t pull your heartstrings, think about this: you’re a brand new Wal-Mart employee, and your job, among other tasks, is to collect the carts from the cart return. Most of the time, you don’t mind your job. You simply go to each cart return, collect the carts within, and usher them back toward the store—simple, right? WRONG. To your great despair, there are carts all over the lot. Carts in parking spaces, in the grass, all the way at the end of the lot . . . even right outside of the returns. Now your job, which should be if not quick at least predictable, is made ten times worse. You have to go all over the parking lot, rain or shine, to gather the carts left behind by wayward shoppers, which means your eight-hour shift just became a ten-hour.

I believe that a person’s true worth can be judged on one principle and one principle alone: do you, or do you not, utilize the cart return? As you can see, I have a bone to pick with a certain group of people, specifically those who refuse to put their carts in the cart return like decent, functioning members of society.

Nothing irks me more than seeing dozens of shopping carts carelessly strewn about the parking lot like loose change. It appears that many shoppers feel like they’re too busy, important, or just plain lazy to put their carts away properly. What should be the easiest task of the shopping experience is just too much of a chore for some, and so it is avoided.

Although this seems innocent, those people are obviously not thinking about the employees who have to go out of their ways to fetch those carts and set everything back to rights.  You may be in a rush to a meeting or to get out of the rain, but Wal-Mart employees have other jobs to do, including taking in your cart regardless of the weather—it would be lovely if that cart were exactly where it was supposed to be.

So, although I know we are all busy and we all have tendencies to be a little forgetful at times, please take the time out of your day to do the honorable thing, the respectable thing, the right thing . . . “Please Return Cart Here . . . And thank you for shopping!”