One of my pet peeves is shopping carts all over the parking lot of a store or mall. Why can't people return their carts to the store? In recent years, mall managers and store owners have taken to installing "parking garages'' for shopping carts in the parking lot. It's so convenient, I can't figure out why anyone wouldn't take their cart to the "garage". They could get some exercise that way and help save other people some headaches.
Have you ever seen a shopping cart careen across a parking lot and slam into a car in a high wind? Have you ever seen a cart jump a guard rail and crash down a hill, creating a hazard for traffic and people alike? And worst of all, have you come into a parking lot and turned into a narrow space between two cars only to find a cart or two parked there in the way. That drives me crazy. Who could be so insensitive and inconsiderate as to leave their cart in a parking space when the cart has its own parking garage not twenty paces away? It's a sign of the selfish, me-first attitude that pervades this country and many of its people. I know we can all make excuses: not enough time, not feeling well, having a bad hair day, etc. All the excuses seem pretty lame to me.
Every culture and country has its weak points. This lack of consideration for others and me-first attitude is one of the weak points of the USA.
As someone who has lived overseas half my life, I can't help but compare cultures. Of course, not everything is perfect in other lands, but there are definitely things in the USA that I can't stand, and shopping carts in the parking lot are one of them. This kind of bad habit leads me to compare the US unfavorably with other countries. The US is my home, and I do love my country, but I don't like all the customs and practices of my culture.
One of the reasons I like Aldi's is the way it deals with shopping carts. If you don't have an Aldi's in your area, you are deprived. It's kind of a stripped-down version of a wholesale grocery. The concept of the store originated in Germany, where everything is efficient and fine-tuned. The shopping carts for the store are all chained together outside under the awning. In order to get a cart, you have to slip a quarter into the chain holding the lead cart to the others. When you have inserted the quarter, the chain releases immediately, and your cart is free. If you want your quarter back, you have to take the cart back to the "parking garage" after you've finished shopping and slip the chain back in the slot. The quarter pops out, and you retrieve it. Guess how many people leave carts in the parking lot? I have never seen a stray cart in the parking lot of an Aldi's. Isn't that ingenious? I think all stores should have a system like that. It would cut back on some parking lot blues.
Sometimes big problems have simple solutions, but everyone has to be willing to do their part. Sometimes that involves a small, temporary sacrifice (like paying a quarter for a shopping cart). Maybe people ought to pay a quarter if they leave their cart unattended in a parking lot. The way we demand our rights in this country, however, does not make me optimistic that this parking cart problem will be solved soon.
Let's all do our part and return our carts to the "parking garage." And I challenge everyone out there to make little sacrifices to make our country a more considerate, more humane, and less selfish place.
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