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What happened to courtesy and respect?

By Jennifer D.
Washington, Age 15

Imagine you are pulling into a crowded parking lot after a long day of work. In the middle of two rows, a dozen or so shopping carts stand stranded, filling up three spots. You park in the only open spot near the edge of the lot, and then quickly make your way into the store, where you purchase your items and leave. Yet when you exit the store, you are shocked to discover not one but two stray carts have “drifted” into the side of your car, denting the doors, while an empty cart return sits one row over. In a situation like this, who is to blame? The employees of the store, who have failed to do their job in rounding up carts? The store itself, who designed the parking lot? Of the lazy, discourteous shoppers who left their carts in a spot most convenient to them—right where they had parked?
The inability to return carts to the proper location is a growing problem in our area. According to a recent survey, 54% of shoppers do not return their carts to the proper location or corral, which can cause damage to cars, clutter parking spaces, or even lead to cart theft (Michelle, 1). More than that, though, misplaced, stranded carts also promote a sense of apathy among other shoppers, signaling an unspoken acceptance to be a discourteous shopper because “there isn’t enough time” to return carts, or better yet, “someone else is paid to put carts away” (Michelle, 1). Take, for example, this account of a disgruntled shopper named James: “I had just parked in a spot and was exiting my vehicle. The woman next to me…placed the cart between her [car] and my vehicle. I confronted the woman about leaving the cart in my spot. She told me she was late for some event and didn’t have time to place her cart in the proper spot”—even though that spot was two spaces away (, 3). Certainly no shopper enjoys hiking two spaces—or even a row—over to return a cart to a corral, but as a shopper, a guest of the store, it is the right thing to do.