Attention shopping cart ditchers: look at what you’ve done


Look at this. Do not avert your gaze. This. This is what greeted me when I came out of the grocery store today.

It’s not about the car. It’s not about scratches and minor dents. I don’t care about these things. And that’s not because I abhor materialism (although I do abhor materialism), it’s primarily because I’m incredibly awkward and clumsy. Due to my clumsiness, all of my physical possessions will, probably within 45 minutes of their initial purchase, be broken, battered, bent, scratched, dented and/or otherwise ruined by me.

I’ve had to adapt and grow accustomed to damaged goods, because I am so inclined to damage them. But, notice, I only damage MY OWN goods.

This isn’t about the car. It’s about the principle. For many years I have used every platform and every tool at my disposal to fight against the terrorists who leave their shopping carts chaotically strewn about the surface of the Earth. Every time I drive into a supermarket parking lot these days it looks like 9,000 people were raptured into heaven right as they put their last grocery bag in the trunk. Or maybe they’re all bomb technicians and they had to go diffuse explosives somewhere. Or maybe they’re Batman. Yes, maybe they saw the Bat Signal and had to go find the Penguin and foil another of his dastardly plots. They must be SOMETHING important if they couldn’t carve out the requisite half-minute to shuttle those cart back from whence they came.

Or, or, or maybe they’re just lazy.

Look at this:


That’s called a “cart corral.” That’s where people put their carts. You see the bars? Those bars are designed to contain said carts and stop them from causing damage to somebody else’s property. Most parking lots have dozens of these strategically positioned throughout the premises so as to assure that nobody ever has to walk more than 27 feet to return their carts.

27 feet to save your neighbor’s vehicle from sure destruction. Well, maybe not destruction, but real damage that can be measured in hundreds of dollars.

Yet this small sacrifice for the sake of your fellow man is too cumbersome for many of us. The average American watches 30 hours of TV a week, and he can’t shave about .00001 percent off of that and allocate it towards returning a shopping cart to a structure specifically constructed to hold shopping carts?

It’s the principle. I don’t care that a cart flew into my car; I care that it offended my principles, and the principles upon which this country is built. This is more than just shopping carts and scratched panels, people. How can we ever expect to survive an apocalyptic disaster — when civilization is brought to its knees, the power grid fails, our infrastructure crumbles, and governmental institutions are disbanded — if we can’t even figure out how to work harmoniously with one another IN A PARKING LOT?

You can’t escape this, my cart-deserting friends. You can’t hide from this, leavers-of-shopping-carts. You can’t pretend your actions do not have consequences, perpetrators-of-vandalism-by-shopping-cart. When you say to yourself, “hmmmm it would take me 12 seconds to put this thing back in the corral, but I think I’ll just leave it here, on a windy day, 7 feet from that dude’s vehicle,” what you’re actually saying is, “I am willing to cause destruction to another’s property for the sake of saving 24 seconds (round trip).”

When you make that calculation out loud it sort of makes you sound like a sociopath, doesn’t it?

Well, if the shoe fits wear it. Or take it off and fling it at my car, as you are wont to do.

Oh, I know people have excuses. They take great exception to the idea that anyone would expect them to find a way to return the cart they somehow managed to retrieve in the first place. But before you spew your ifs, ands, and buts, let me ask you this: what if an insane and generous billionaire offered you SEVENTY BILLION DOLLARS, and, in exchange, all you had to do was personally return your shopping cart to the corral a few spaces away?

I bet you’d find a way to make it happen, wouldn’t you? Against immeasurable odds, in spite of sore feet, in the face of vast distances, you would SOMEHOW manage to get that cart into that corral.

I can’t offer you seventy billion dollars. But I can offer you the satisfaction of knowing that you have done your small part to clean up America’s grocery store parking lots, and set an example for all of the other potential cart-ditchers who would be tempted to follow your kind down this dark path.

Please, don’t attempt to excuse your behavior by insisting that you’re simply giving the parking lot attendant “something to do.” Would you jam a rusty nail into an artery just to give your doctor “something to do”? Would you set your house on fire just to give your local fire department “something to do”? No? Then stop acting like your laziness is really a job creation strategy.

Your laziness is laziness, and it’s very unbecoming.

You can ask my wife. Shopping cart etiquette is an issue which I have long since championed. I spoke passionately about the subject on our first date, and it was then that she fell deeply in love.

Most of us will rarely be put in a position to exhibit extraordinary heroism. Most of us lead ordinary lives and so our strength of character manifests itself in ordinary ways. That’s why we can not falter in these little moments. We will be defined by the doors we hold, the shopping carts we return, the garlic bread we forgo because we know we’re going to be sitting in a crowded movie theater right after we finish dinner. Let us no fail when the spotlight, however dim, however seemingly insignificant, shines upon us.

This is my rallying cry. Return your carts. Return every cart.

In this life we will never achieve Utopia, but we can at least fix the parking lot situation.



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1,110 Responses to Attention shopping cart ditchers: look at what you’ve done

  1. Mom of 4 says:

    Shop at another store which requires a quarter to use the cart and returns the quarter when you have returned the cart. It really is rocket science!!

    • Laura says:

      The quarter system is wonderful. Very effective! Except, I haven’t seen anything like that since leaving Europe. (Maybe I don’t shop at the right stores) Lazy American shoppers need it more than anyone. Except, I’m sure Walmart shoppers would be up in arms about the prospect of having to bring (and temporarily part with) a quarter to go shopping. Don’t mess with my American right to be a lazy slug!

      • Actually the grocery store chain Aldi’s has the quarter system. It works great.

      • Beverly says:

        Sadly, I don’t think they have a system that can accept govt issued food stamp cards. That is what many in wmart pay for sodas and chips and some necessities with. Then leave their cart with one wheel up over a curb or in a huddle with others only within a 3 foot radius as not to exert too much energy! You know, those groupings of carts a few feet away from the corral or front door. Please understand, I am simply making a generalization here and being sarcastic. I know not all that use govt issued funds buy sodas and chips!

      • Asda says:

        Unfortunately the quarter system DOES NOT WORK, quarters are chump change and if I paid $0.25 I’d feel justified in leaving the cart wherever I darn well please.

        • Perhap… but then some kid will come along and return the cart for you and pocket the quarter. But you’re right about chump change. I remember visiting family in France in the early 90s and coin you had to use there was 20 Francs, worth about 5 bucks at the time.

        • Margaret Baumann says:

          How about a dollar? What would be the going rate that would encourage you to return the cart to an appropriate station? I had a head-on collision with a shopping cart at a speed of 40 MPH, no fun; we must do something to clean-up our environment.

    • Angela says:

      There is a grocery store here in my home town where it’s a loonie to use the cart.

    • Oregonduck says:

      Been to many a store in many states and have never seen a pay as you go cart system. Except those you get at the airport. Not saying they aren’t there, I’ve just never seen them. So perhaps this person does not have that option.

      • Jennifer says:

        Every grocery store in NJ has the quarter system.

      • zigweegwee says:

        No, they don’t. Mine used to but they discontinued it after about a year, probably due to the cost of vandalism and broken chains. That remains the only grocery store in NJ that I’ve ever seen attempt it.

    • Carrie says:

      Never seen a store offer that . . .

  2. Motherish6 says:

    Love this. Love. Love. I deal with my own penchant for laziness, and the fact that I have five children to load out of and into my vehicle, by strategically parking as close to the cart return as possible.

  3. lisa says:

    Well, I had to laugh first; then I had to feel guilty; then I had to feel heroic. Yes, Matt, ok, ok.. I’ll be putting the cart in the corral from now on. But really, I’m very careful when I leave it, i make sure I park it on a crack so it won’t go careening into other people’s cars. Yep, there you have it, that’s my but, alas, you know me too well.

  4. Traci says:

    Thank you, Thank you! This makes my husband and I crazy for a variety of reasons; 1. it is rude to destroy others property. 2. My husband spent his teenage years collecting all those carts while working at a grocery store (and he said worse was what you would find in them). 3. Is our biggest issue…many people think that the lined area of a handicap spot or pedestrian areas in parking lots are for carts. THEY AREN’T! We have two children in wheelchairs and I can’t tell you the number of times this is an issue when loading or unloading them from our van using a lift and not having the space. Pure laziness and selfishness. Many people would love to be able to walk their carts back to the cart corral.

    • ryan says:

      call me lazy and selfish…I’ll do my best not to call you judgemental (oops! too late)

      • Silent says:

        If you can’t burn 20-30ish seconds to return a cart, you are lazy and selfish. And I will make that very reasonable judgement.. Because it is true.

        • ryan says:

          no its not

        • ryan says:

          Silent, their are 86400 seconds in a day and you are going to look at 20-30 seconds of my day and lable me those harsh terms…yea, that’s real reasonable.

          …and its not like its a 20-30 second critical moment working at a nuclear power plant where if I dont do something an explosion could occur…it 20-30 seconds of pushing a grocery cart. It’s not reasonable to label me that if I leave my cart out.

      • Gary says:

        You could make the same argument about cheating on your wife… the other 86400 seconds you aren’t having sex with other women…

        • ryan says:

          I wouldn’t consider a lazy person to be someone who works his tail off all day and then leaves a grocery cart out. Someone who cheats on his wife for 30 seconds is still an unfaithful spouse. Leaving the grocery cart out, I admit, is a lazy act…but it does not make you a lazy person if you spend the rest of your day working your butt off. So, that’s a bad example, and its definetly not comparing apples to apples since cheating on your spouse is a billion times more serious than leaving a grocery cart out.

  5. The Following Contest says:

    That is why I shop at Aldi.

  6. maria says:

    I Love that Batman remark…Hehehe!

  7. oboovie says:

    Dr Marten’s footwear store deals in boots, sandals and shoes for all men and women. Refernce:Dr Martens

  8. CG says:

    I’m sorry…I don’t see the big deal…honestly. The fact of the matter is that it IS someone’s job to collect those shopping carts. If everyone returned the shopping carts, the stores would employ less people. Its part of someone’s job. Why should I do their job? Its part of what I pay for when I buy my groceries. I’m not expected to make my bed when I go to a hotel. I’m not expected to clear my dishes when I go to a restaurant. Its a service I pay for at the grocery store. I don’t expect anyone to do part of my job…just because it might be hard or distasteful. Follow me around for a day and see all the miserable things I deal with. I don’t expect anyone else to do them. They are my responsibility. Sometimes I return shopping carts…if I have the time, if the parking lot is particularly crowded. But, I’m busy. I’m usually short of time when I go to the store. I make sure the cart of out of the way of parking spot, but I leave it there. I don’t go out of my way to return it. Maybe your store culture is different, but I’m paying for someone else to return the carts when I buy groceries. I’m not a lazy person. I work very hard. Like I said, follow me around all day and see what I’m dealing with. I’d be willing to bet most people would be surprised at all that occupies my time. This is an area of my life where I’m going to choose to be selfish. I’m sure everyone has areas of their life where they choose to be selfish…just a little…and choose to be a little frivilous. Don’t be too judgey on people who leave carts. Everyone has their ‘abanded cart’ in life.

    • Well aren’t you just a ray of sunshine?? You are rude, and yes, very selfish. I work at a coffee shop, just because part of my job requires me to clean up after someone else’s mess (like say they spilled coffee all over the inside of the trash can) does not mean that you cannot take the extra step of either taking your coffee with you… or dumping it in a sink before throwing that cup away. It is not going to kill you. There is something called “common sense” and something called “decency” But if you choose to be a spoiled, self righteous pig who thinks it is someone else’s job to clean up after you, or grab your cart because you are too lazy to take it yourself” then so be it. You are probably one who has damaged another persons vehicle with the cart by being negligent. Yes, I just said that. That is what it boils down to. And also to straighten you out a bit, not everyone has their “abandoned cart” in life. Some people are smart and think of others before thinking about themselves. Some people think of helping others out by doing those simple little things, instead of thinking “oh its not my job”

      • CG says:

        Really? You’re telling me that you’re 100% perfect. You NEVER do anything that is about you. You’re saying that you ALWAYS think of others. You’re saying that never let anyone do anything for you. YOu’ve never taken advantage of free services. You ALWAYS make sure that you never inconvience anyone. In fact, you go out of your way to devote all your time and attention to others. WOW – you should be called up for Saint Hood! Its really easy to bash on other people for something you feel that you’re perfect at. Its a lot easier to call out other’s faults than work on your own. Gee – I wonder what’s worse…leaving a shopping cart in the parking lot or being self righteous and calling some one horrible names over a difference of opinion? All I was trying to say was that this is a very little thing for everyone to get so uppity about. Its not like its something really important such as raising children. Everyone here is horribly bashing on those who ‘gasp’ leave a cart in the parking lot. Sure – if its something you are already ‘perfect’ at, it feels awfully good to pat yourself on the back and say “I’m so wonderful…I return carts. Look at the horrible person that ‘gasp’ DOESN’T!” In my crazy life, this is something I choose not to stress about for various reasons. Its important to you – great. Go for it. Don’t think you’re fabulous for it. I’m sure there are plenty of other areas in your life that could use some work. But – if knowing that YOU return shopping carts makes you feel that much better than me. Feel free to use me to give you reason to ignore your other failings.

        • Jasmine says:

          Let this soak in for a second- Your laziness isn’t about adding work for someone, its about the potential of damaging someone’s car. This has happened to me. Big scrape across the side of my new car…and a Cart Corral was only 10 feet away! To me, this is common sense. But I guess some people are lazy and selfish…

        • You are a Narcissist says:

          Matter of fact, CG, I clear my plates, and stack everything for my server (even when fine dining). I don’t ALWAYS make the bed at hotels because this IS someone’s job. Most times I do though, because I don’t want anyone in my room. And FYI: the job is to collect carts from the cart corrals. There is no portal or wormhole that magically transfers carts from these corrals to the customers inside the store. If everyone put their carts where they belong, not one job would be lost! At least one job would be made less miserable, and more efficient. In the end, does efficiency not (in theory) lower aggregate costs for all of us, improving our quality of life? It is people like you who are ultimately responsible for many of the things that are wrong with this country. Stop eating food and drinking fluids… those activities take energy too. Tell your friends to do the same. I’m sure lives will improve in about a week.

        • Stewart Vance says:

          CG you are lazy bum plain and simple

      • swellmel says:

        That is why their life is crazy because they are so self centered. I can’t comment to their reply…but it’s people like that, the little things. We don’t call ourselves saints for putting a cart away, but it’s called taking 10 seconds out to make sure your actions don’t cause another person a problem. I have never stressed about returning a cart, I just do it. CG try in just 10 outside circumstances in your life thinking of someone else before yourself (putting a cart away, letting that guy change lanes ahead of you, opening a door, picking up something someone has dropped) and soon it becomes second nature. It is about raising your kids. When they see you taking time to do the right thing, with big and little things (putting a cart away is really such a little 1st world problem isn’t it?), they too will start thinking about others first and themselves second. Yes, there are plenty of ways I can improve myself but at least I put my damn cart away.

      • ryan says:

        swellmel, you told CG to think of someone else before himself. well maybe for CG not putting a cart away is doing just that. how? maybe by not stressing over a cart after a tough day at work, he will have a little more focus, energy, and sanity to not make a big mistake that will negatively impact other people. for example, if he’s not stressed about a cart, maybe ultimately he will avoid a wreck on his way home. or maybe he will figure out a problem at work that is critical and ultimately it will help him keep his job (keeping your job means providing for your family and last I checked that is a good example of putting others before yourself). So my point is, your perspective on putting others first by putting a cart away is not 100% guranteed to be accurate.

        • J Fernandez says:

          It’s this simple, it’s being a good human to take 12 seconds to put a cart away. You don’t need to walk it all the way to the store but at least put it in one of those cart put back things so it does not damage other people’s cars. How would you feel if your car was scratched? Yeah. I bet you would be pissed then. Common sense. Use it,

        • ryan says:

          Common sense! I will use it! lmbo… maybe you could have also thrown in “that’s a fact Jack” or some other really cool phrase lol

    • Jo says:

      Ya know what else is in the cost of your groceries? Shrinkage. If you are unaware of what shrinkage is it is waste. People take perishables out of the refrigeration units and then leave them on the shelves to spoil, that is shrinkage. People complain about perfectly good products to get it free, that is shrinkage. Shoplifting, that is shrinkage. It is about 2% of your total grocery bill. So do the math, that is your loss caused by people like you who don’t care.

      After all there is a snowballs chance in hell that an employee will come across a spoiling product soon enough to save it. After all that makes more sense than putting it back or admitting to the checker you no longer want it.

      I am sure you never pay attention to anyone around you, I wonder how much shoplifting you ignored. Someone like you shouldn’t pay for something that isn’t 100% what you expected even if it was your poor choice that chose it.

      The world is imperfect, the shrinkage mark up will always be there but you acting like it is no big deal because you pay for it? Entitlement!

    • Karma says:

      The next time you are in a hurry at the store and are wishing they would open another line, I hope you will look out the window and see the employees who could be working another register out in the parking lot collecting the shopping carts scattered everywhere.

      • Chris says:

        Out of all the moral obligation arguments to this guy, I must say i like your approach. You have a good point that has nothing to do with civic duty or moral codes. Good on ya!

    • Susan says:

      The stores are not rushing out to retrieve those carts. They have to be out of carts before they will send someone out, there which could be well over an hour. In that hour your cart is blown about by the wind and most likely causing damage- but hey, what do you care? You got to get in your car and leave. Just because you have a lot to deal with does not excuse this behavior. I have plenty of flaws, but I do not knowingly do selfish things that will cause others to work harder, or worse, cause damage to people or property. Why not request a carry-out? Then you get the service you think you deserve and no one’s car gets damaged thanks to your laziness.

    • Rachel says:

      The cart pusher’s job is not to gather stray carts from all over the parking area. His job is to collect them from the cart corrals and bring them back to the store. Though if you leave them out he will have to gather them up. You just made his job harder. If it was his job to get them from all over the parking area, why would they have cart corrals at all? He does not put them in the corals. He takes them back to the store.

    • Matt says:

      You could have put a lot of carts away in the time it took you to write these whiny “waah I work hard don’t judge me comments”. Ain’t got time for cart storage, yet plenty of time to write a few novels on the internet. Shut up and put the cart away.

    • Disgusted says:

      Whether I return a cart or not is dependent on the service I got inside the store. I’ve pushed a cart 1/4 mile (well it seemed that far) across the lot because someone in the store treated me well. And times I’ve left the cart in the lot when I felt ignored. My hometown store, Broulims, get their carts returned every single time regardless of the weather. The big box stores less often.

      • Shelly says:

        Interesting. What exactly do you accomplish by doing that? The person collecting your cart is not only used to grabbing carts not in the corral, they also likely were not the ones giving you bad service. So you really aren’t getting back at anyone, just inconveniencing the wrong person. Maybe next time you should complain to the manager.

    • dawn says:

      They have more than just grabbing random carts to do. That is only one part of what they do, and no, they wouldn’t employ less people, you would simply make their job a little easier.
      You seem to me like the type who would also let their kids leave a mess at a restaurant, crumbs all over the floor, napkins strewn about, etc. Its basic kindess. Its lazy and rude not to pile your stuff neatly, pick up as best you can, or put your cart away. I’m busy too! I work and I have kids, but I take the few seconds it takes to put the cart away, and clean up after myself!

    • Shelly says:

      Many if not most stores are understaffed and the person collecting the carts is working on other stuff. Or there are times when no one is collecting carts for a certain period. Your argument that stores would employ less people makes no sense. What difference does it make if they collect the carts from a corral instead of collecting carts from around the parking lot?
      There is a difference between you leaving your dishes in the restaurant or not making the bed in the hotel room. You are not affecting someone else’s property by doing so. Cart corrals are there for a reason.
      And we are supposed to believe that you are in SUCH a rush that you can shop inside a store, but can’t take a minute to return your cart? Right.

    • Amy B says:

      You probably go into a dressing room at a store and just leave the stuff you tried on and are not purchasing on the floor because that’s some one’s job to clean up after you too.

      • Right you are, Amy B! You hit the nail right on the head. I used to work at the second-largest chain store (think red) in the US. One day, right before school started, a woman and her college-age daughter came back to the dressing room with TWO carts full of clothing. They were in there for quite some time and finally, Mom said, “C’mon, you are taking too much time. Let’s go!” Her daughter replied, “But we have to pick all of these clothes up.” Said her mother, “Leave them there. That’s what they pay these people for.” Yep! She really said it. One can only hope that when she got to her car out there in the parking lot, that several of those runaway carts found their way over to her car. Smash!

    • stelladog says:

      Yes, it is someone’s job to collect the carts – from the cart corrals!! Newsflash – that’s why they are there, for customers to place them there for the employee to collect them. It should not be someone’s job to go around and collect scattered shopping carts because someone found it inconvenient to walk maybe 50 steps, probably a total of 30 seconds of your life, you are in that big of a hurry? And yes, you are correct, we all have those “selfish / lazy” moments in our life….I just choose something else instead of leaving a shopping cart to roll into someone’s $40,000 truck.

    • Carrie says:

      And your license plate number is? Just so I can be as self-centered as you . . .

    • The point is if you are “paying” for the service of someone to gather the loose carts, then you should also be paying the service for damage repairs if your loose cart scratches up a car.

    • Margaret Baumann says:

      CG – Let me tell you about not being too “judgey” as you say, on people who leave carts or “abandon their cart.” I had the misfortune of having a head-on collision with one of your abandoned carts two nights ago, while I was driving at 40 MPH; not fun. Think twice the next time you don’t think you have time to return a shopping cart – my first grandchild is due in July and I really want to see that grandchild while I’m on this earth.

  9. Emmalie says:

    Also, it wouldn’t hurt to consider whose job it is to actually collect the carts. In the past, I’ve worked at a grocery store, where it was, in fact, my job. Not that I’m complaining about the work; a job is a job is a job, and it needs to be done. No, what I mean is, in the winter, for example, when ice covers the ground and shoppers all cram to get the ‘perfect spot’ in the parking lot, it is a horrible place to maneuver through the people and the cars that keep driving all around the lanes to dodge stray carts. I can recall slipping SEVERAL times in the process of retrieving carts in the back of the lot -something that could have been avoided, if the thing was returned to the spot it belonged in. The cart corrals are there for a reason: to keep the organized chaos, well, organized. They are not a mere suggestion.

  10. Jael Vee-Oldhorn says:

    It was like this in the Netherlands too, but then they started to make you pay for the cart. And only by bringing it back, you get your euro back. It’s a brilliant idea. Keeps the parking lot clean. And the reason I know it really works, is because the few places where they don’t have the ones you put a coin in, you will find carts out on the parking lot.

  11. Aldene says:

    Come to my town-all groceries are carried by a store employee!!

  12. Pete says:

    Given the physical fitness level of most Americans, and the cost of health care, walking 27 ft after loading cheese balls and cupcakes into your car sounds like an extremely justifiable act. Put your cart away! Your health insurance provider will thank you!

  13. Andrea says:

    My guess is that most of these perpetrators aren’t the type to spend time reading this kind of blog. But oh how I agree, and this is only one of many manifestations of growing laziness and thoughtlessness in our culture (I know I’m guilty of a few).

  14. Beverly says:

    So sorry about your car! This is a pet peeve of mine also. Then, I also get ticked at the people that can’t push the carts to the very end of the cart corral. Hence, the carts keep piling up at the entrance of the cart corral and spilling out into the parking lot. Oh well. It takes all kinds to make the world go around!

  15. Tk Jurkouich says:

    I remember as a child growing up in and around Denver Colorado, Biggs ( Grocery mega store, just like a walmart, but out of business now) had shopping carts you had to put a quarter in to release them from the stalls. I always loved putting the cart back because i got to keep the quarter. Some times on the way back to a stall i would find another cart and return that. I would make a pretty penny and be able to hit up the ice cream man when we got home. Oh the good ole days, where have you gone?

  16. Kat says:

    Most of the time I return my cart. There have been a few occasions, though, when I’m at the store with my two young children and I just don’t feel comfortable walking all 5 or 6 cars away and leaving my children in the car alone. I put the cart where it won’t roll away. So if you see a mom out with her kids, and she’s leaving her cart, be a little understanding. Maybe even take the cart for her. ( Unless you’re a group of guys who want to play that stupid knockout game. Then keep on walking.) We don’t have quarter carts here.

    • Carrie says:

      When I had 4 little ones, I still managed . . . Priorities.

    • SAS says:

      I agree, Kat. It is not okay to leave very young children unattended in a vehicle. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s against the law in most states. When I was unable to park close to the cart corral, I usually just brought my children with me to return the cart. It drives me up a wall to see carts not put in the corral. I also stack my plates for our waitress, and throw away empty coffee cups I see left on retail shelves. I’m a bit OCD. I can probably count on one hand the times I have not returned my cart to the corral in my entire life. They each involved horrible weather, and a toddler, a preschooler, and a infant. Sometimes with one of them throwing a fit. I did however try to put the cart is the safest place possible, and because I’m a huge rule follower, died inside just a bit each time. So if you see a mom, during a snow storm, when the temperature is dangerously low, who was forced to go to the grocery store with her infant, her toddler, and her preschooler (something she rarely does, because, as a rule, she does not enjoy torture), who has put all 3 of those children in her running minivan (as opposed to leaving them out in the elements of the cursed New England weather) and she is loading her groceries into the back of that minivan, maybe go ahead and grab that cart for her. Even though she may not be stupid enough to leave her young children unattended in the van, or to get them out and take them with her to the corral through the icy parking lot, (do you have an accurate visual here?) with idiot drivers at every turn, you can at least help her not to die inside a little when she leaves the cart where she knows it’s not suppose to go. Our first priority should always be the safety of our children. Anyone who thinks otherwise, has no soul. Your priorities are right where they should be!

  17. ivechanged says:

    I now will return the carts after reading this post. I have two kids in my car, which is usually why I don’t return it (lame excuse, i know) but I think I can spare the 1 minute maximum it takes to return a cart. You’ve inspired me to change. A small change, but hopefully it saves someones car. Sorry to hear about yours.

    • ryan says:

      just make sure your kids dont get kidnapped while you are away for 30 seconds. Imagine if that happened because you were putting a cart away. Talk about lame excuses.

  18. theacuffzoo says:

    I’m with Motherish6. The only exception being that 1) I can not find a spot near a cart area and 2)it is terrible weather (and I don’t mean a little wind and rain, I mean full on snowstorm or torrential downpour that you don’t want to risk getting a toddler and in infant sick in). Those two conditions not being met = cart in the appropriate spot. Too many times I have had to fix my paint job because someone else couldn’t put up a cart.

  19. mstickle says:

    Yes, there ARE legitimate excuses for not returning the cart, despite your claims to the contrary. How about people who park in handicapped spaces? They park there for a REASON, and it’s usually because they can’t walk for any distance. Then they put the cart corrals halfway across the parking lot, never near the HC parking spaces, which requires the person to walk all the way there, and then all the way back. Not every one is lazy. Nice rant, but that’s all it is, since you selfishly assumed that everyone is capable and yet unwilling to return the carts. As I said, sometimes there ARE good reasons for not returning them.

    • Drew says:

      As a former Walmart cart pusher i can assure you I never once complained about putting a cart back that was used by a handicapped person. I understand. I have also seen 90 year old ladies that needed a cane to walk return her cart. This whole comment section just proves how lazy America is. while you can sit at your computer and write a 10-15 minute paragraph on why you dont put your cart in the corral, or how to justify it, but you cant take 10-20 seconds to put a cart up, how does that make any sense? Cart pushers have enough to deal with, the weather, the walmart managers that dont care, the idiots who cant drive and almost hit them (I almost got hit on a daily basis), the idiots who like to take up 4 spots. The bums who ask for money (yes it is our job to get rid of them). To clean out the carts (because god forbid you use the 20 trashcans that are in the cart corrals). To clean the floor in the inside cart bay (because once again insted of throwing the garbage in the 3 trashcans that are in the front, you guys choose to use the floor). So yes we may be cart pushers, but that does not mean we are meant to push your cart from whereever the hell you choose to leave it.

    • Stewart Vance says:

      at our store the handicap parking spaces are right next to the Corrals and the people still put their carts in the corrals.

  20. I hate this too! The only time I think it’s okay to leave a shopping cart somewhere other then the stall is when I have a baby that is in the car and I’m NOT going to leave a baby in a car to run all the way across a parking lot just to put the shopping cart away. Much too risky to my child. And yes, sometimes I literally cannot carry the car seat, baby, and all the stuff across a parking lot.

  21. Cassie says:

    I have 4 kids and almost never am shopping solo, but no matter what I make sure my cart ends up in the corral. At one store the corral was pretty far and I didn’t feel comfortable leaving my car with kiddos already buckled. All I had to do was ask a kind soul to return it on their way in. There is always a way to respect your fellow man by returning your cart. Even batman following the bat signal would swipe it in on his quick departure.

  22. Trish says:

    I’m a shopping cart ditcher and I’m not about to stop BECAUSE 99% OF THE TIME I HAVE LITTLE KIDS WITH ME. I am not going to walk away from a baby, not even if the cart corral is just a couple of spaces away! Not after seeing a news report of a woman whose baby was stolen out of her car when she went to return the cart to the corral just 10-12 steps away. Not after the reports of cars stolen in an instant with kids in them – and the kids ditched, killed, for being in the stolen car. Anyone who confronts me about an inconveniently abandoned cart will get this explanation, and I have no apologies for keeping my kids safe. That said, I do try to park as close to a cart corral as I can (I prefer the spot directly next to one) expressly because I would prefer to return my cart to a corral. If I have an older child with me, I ask him to return the cart. If it’s me and my two babies, tough luck – cart will not be returned. My kids will be safe. End of story.

    • Shelly says:

      I have kids too and still manage to return my cart all the time. I wonder how you can function as a parent if you can’t handle your kids while putting the cart away.
      Statistically your kids are in far greater danger from someone close to them, then a stranger. But if you want live in your life in paranoia and fear, that’s your decision.

      • ryan says:

        so…let me get this correct… Trish expressed disagreement and said she will not put her grocery cart again. Shelly, you then reply and tell her that you wonder how she can function as a parent… that is a total insult. You are out of line. Trish does not deserve to be told she can’t function as a parent. You then insulted her further with the final sentence you wrote. Dang, all Shelley did was disagree with Matt’s opinion regarding shopping. Never once did she attack him like you attacked her.

  23. LeeLee says:

    Oh my goodness, this drives me batty! I can not stand to see someone leave their cart out. I have even seen people leave it within steps of the cart return! I have seen handicapped people return their cart and mothers of little ones return their cart! But sure, maybe there are some legitimate excuses. But there are far less valid excuses than the number of carts left in the parking lot! It really just comes down to laziness for most people- wanting someone else to clean up our mess. We were at Walmart before and I saw an employee trying to pull into the space. She had to get out and move a cart in order to pull in, then proceeded to put the cart behind someone else’s car. Needless to say, she got a nice complaint to the manager called in on her! It’s the same as seeing someone in the store drop something and leave it. Once I heard a lady tell her male companion to pick up the mess he had just made and his response was, “that’s what the employees get paid to do.” How lazy and pathetic!! But hey, I guess I would just be labeled “judgemental”, huh! Thoughfulness, kindness and common courtesy are dying characteristics and there really is no good excuse for it!

  24. ryan says:

    Hey Matt, I put my shopping cart back. Aren’t I such a good and great person? Don’t you think people, in general, could call me awesome because I put my shopping cart back? Could you respond to this and tell me how great I am for putting my shopping cart back? It would make me feel special.

  25. pattimcb says:

    Yep, too many are just plain too lazy/thoughtless of others, to walk a few extra feet to a cart stall & on the other hand it’s frustrating that many stores don’t put enough stalls in the parking lots. I won’t walk a whole length of a parking lot to put my cart in a stall, most especially later at night.

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  27. Chris Dieter says:

    I have recently committed to locating a errand cart in the parking lot on my way into the store (there is always a few) and take that sucker into the store to shop. I hope to be a role model for other shoppers in the whole “many hands makes light work.” Not holding my breath or anything, but can you imagine if it catches on?

  28. Mary K Riewer says:

    The carts are store equipment for which the store has liability. When their lazy cart jockeys don’t collect the carts and your car suffers damage as a result, then you have a case. All those signs the stores post stating they are not liable are misleading and in most cases are as big a lie as the words “Discount” and my personal favorite, “Sale”.

  29. Jen says:

    This is stupid. Its a thing. It really shouldn’t effect your lives in such a way that you let it control your mood. Whether or not you have a scratch on your car or it makes you park in a different spot it doesn’t make you a better person to have these feelings about other people. Letting little things get to you just makes your life more difficult, no one else is effected. Do what you believe is right and leave others to do what they believe. If you just can’t do that then move out of a community and live your life in the backwoods where no one else is around. That way you can get your food from a place where no one else is going to disturb you.

    • ryan says:

      But Jen…like Matt said… “How can we ever expect to survive an apocalyptic disaster — when civilization is brought to its knees, the power grid fails, our infrastructure crumbles, and governmental institutions are disbanded — if we can’t even figure out how to work harmoniously with one another IN A PARKING LOT?”

      I was like you at first Jen, but after reading this statement by Matt I am completely on board with this cart crusade (lol, sarcasm)

  30. I purposely try to park near corrals, so people have NO EXCUSE to put their carts behind mine. Doesn’t always stop them.

  31. Jason says:

    Excellent blog Matt.

    Shoppers can walk around the store for an hour filling their carts but they can’t take 60 seconds out of their lives to put the cart in the cart corral. If you’re handicapped then you are excused from this discussion. For the parents who leave their carts, It is actually possible to put the cart away with your children helping you. Shocking but true.

    When I see perfectly healthy people just leaving their carts it’s a bit irritating to say the least. Laziness, is always irritating.

  32. HD says:

    Fat F***ing Lazy Americans

  33. HD says:

    ….also, stop driving in circles looking for that primo parking space near the front door — Fat Lazy Diabetic Americans.

  34. I agree that most people need to take a few extra steps to return that grocery cart, but in some people’s defense, when you have a small child in a car seat, you don’t want to walk away from your car nor leave this child unattended to walk a few aisles away to return a cart.

    • Gayle says:

      I look for parking spaces next to the cart corrals. Problem solved. Oh, but then one might have to walk too far to the store….darn.

    • Stewart Vance says:

      that’s when you take the child with you to the cart corral to return the shopping cart then you carry the kid with you back to the car. does someone really need to be a rocket scientist to figure that out?

  35. Gayle says:

    I think a lot of it is regional. I lived for many years in a large, northern city…yes, it was a problem. More recently I’ve lived in TX and TN.. and in neither state have I seen such a problem. In general, I find the people in the south to be more courteous, caring and just darned nice folks. And as I age, I find that I am grateful that I am able to walk those extra steps. I might add that in that northern city where I was born and raised, they now have locking wheels on grocery carts and a sensor around the parking lot that locks those wheels if anyone tries to steal them. You drive through some neighborhoods littered with carts stolen. But don’t get me going on that issue!

  36. Kevin says:

    I can remember a time before cart corrals. I rarely saw carts just sitting out in the open.
    I’d love to know how to share my common sense!

  37. Stewart Vance says:

    dude I fully understand what you’re saying there. I’m a cart pusher at Walmart and I can tell you that during an 8 hour shift I sometimes spend as much as 1 to 2 hours of the day going to get loose carts. people are extremely extremely lazy. i see carts all the time that are left several feet away from the Corrals. but then there’s other times where I see carts left next to the corral instead of being put in the corral. I also see carts left right outside the doors of the store instead of people walking 5 feet to put them back in the store. I so wish that more grocery stores & stores like Walmart would require people to put down a deposit in order to get a grocery cart. then if you put your grocery cart back where it is supposed to go you get your deposit back. doing this will hopefully encourage a lot more of these lazy people to put the shopping cart back in their place.

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