Life can be confusing as hell sometimes. Is the toilet paper roll supposed to flip over or under? Is it okay to wear white after Labor Day? Are fizzy drinks called soda, pop, or Coke?
Who the heck knows the answers to these all-important questions, but does it matter, really? Wear whatever you want, whenever you want. As long as the toilet paper roll is changed, I’m happy. And if the drink is cold and sweet, I don’t really care what you call it. (But for the record, it’s called soda.)
When it comes to navigating life’s unwritten rules, I usually fall back on the tried and true rule of “don’t be an asshole” to guide me. This rule covers just about everything. In fact, I think the golden rule of “do to others as you’d want done to you” was originally written as “don’t be a dick.”
Actually, don’t be an asshole is really just the bare minimum. We should be better than that.
Lately, though, it seems like people are taking this simple rule and making things more complicated than they need be. Holding doors for others, sharing, and pulling to the front of the carpool line are just a few of the many things that we’ve decided are “optional” instead of the bare minimum of common decency and manners.
But the thing that surprises me most of all?
The debate over whether it’s necessary to return your shopping cart to its proper place. In fact, the only thing that surprises me more than the fact that this is even a question to begin with is just how heated folks can get about it. Shopping cart etiquette isn’t just a hot topic; it’s a freaking dumpster fire.
Look, folks, this isn’t complicated.
Return. Your. Damn. Cart.
But what if it’s raining out? Return the cart.
You’re feeling lazy? Hopefully you’re park closed to the corral, but either way, return the cart
Feeling extra lazy? Shop on Amazon Prime and skip the store altogether.
Got a baby crying and a toddler freaking out because you wouldn’t buy him a pack of gum in the Target checkout line? Take them with you, or buckle them into their seats, and return. the. cart.
Don’t get me wrong, parents deserve to be cut some slack at times, but parenthood doesn’t give us free rein to be precious, self-centered punks. We aren’t allowed to ignore rules of common decency just because we’re trying to raise kids.
It takes a measly 20 seconds to return the cart, you can see your car the entire time, and your doors are locked. Listen, if you’re worried about safety, it’s far more dangerous to drive to the grocery store than it is to leave your kids in a locked car in your line of sight for 20 seconds.
There are, of course, exceptions to the “always return your cart” rule. People with disabilities get a pass. If you’re in imminent danger, by all means, leave the cart and get yourself to safety. And if we’re in the midst of Armageddon, all rules go out the window.
But aside from those exceptions, please — pretty please — return your freaking shopping cart.
But I’m giving someone a job if I don’t return my cart, I’ve heard people say. Ummm…no. That store employee already has a job — it’s to move the carts that are in the cart corral to the store. Their job isn’t to clean up after you. Leaving your cart for someone else’s “job security” is like tossing trash out the window so that public works crews can clean up the roads. Yuck. It’s like pissing all over the toilet seat and not flushing so that the janitor can clean it up. Nasty. And rude.
Part of the “don’t be a dick” baseline rule means helping to make someone’s job easier, not harder.
But it’s just a cart. What’s the big deal? I’ve heard others say. The big deal is the damage to other cars that can be caused by rogue carts, not to mention the chaos that would ensue if no one returned their carts or picked up after themselves. I mean, come on, finding a place to park in a crowded shopping center is nerve-racking enough without having to get out and move carts around just to park.
I’m not saying you’re a total asshole if you don’t have a 100% track record — we’re all human, after all — but, well, just stop making excuses and return your freaking cart. Even if your kids are with you. Heck, especially if you’re kids are with you — you’re setting an example, after all.
As shocked as I was to learn that this was even a debate — much less such a heated one — I was just as dismayed to learn that people are yelled at, criticized, or ignored when they clearly need an extra hand or two managing the hell that is shopping with children. Because that “don’t be an asshole” rule I mentioned earlier? Well, it goes both ways, folks.
If you see a rogue cart or someone who didn’t return theirs, just put it back for them. Don’t get all snippy about it. We’re all fighting our own battles, and no one’s perfect. Sometimes we forget, or maybe someone is distracted by some really bad news they just received. Maybe the shopping-cart-deserter has a disability that we can’t see. Or maybe they are just having an IBS flare-up and need to get to a bathroom stat. Don’t get all aggressive about it; just return the cart for them or look the other way.
Life is confusing. Believe me, I know. I only recently found out that tampons shouldn’t be flushed in the toilet and stick-on sandals are an actual thing, and I still don’t understand the ending of Lost. Nothing seems to make sense anymore.
But rest assured, a few things hold true: Put your trash in the garbage. Flush the toilet and clean up any sprinkle left behind. And return your damn shopping cart!