Put Back Your Dang Shopping Cart

Don’t be a jerk – put away your shopping cart.

I realize there are a number of behavioral traits that are far more insidious and consequential than not putting your used shopping cart back in its allocated corral. For example, most people would view racism, adultery, cheating, and stealing as far greater sins than not abiding by proper shopping etiquette.

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However, if you are the type of person that just abandons your cart wherever suits you because you can’t be bothered to expedite that little energy it takes walking it back, you’re still an inconsiderate chode, and I’ll tell you why. (Bonus points if you leave your cart in an actual empty parking spot).

For one, shopping carts have these things called wheels which make them incredibly efficient at doing their job. The thing about wheels is that they aren’t great at staying stationary – particularly on uneven surfaces.

So, that cart that you left haphazardly positioned between a sidewalk and a parking space could easily dislodge and start freely rolling away (which incidentally would make an adorable children’s story about a little cart with ambitions to do greater things in life).

But since we’re not living in a children’s book, the reality is that a cart is very likely to hit a parked or moving car. And since grocery carts aren’t made out of pillows and happy thoughts, this often leads to cars getting dinged or scratched. And that’s B.S. Nobody should have to worry about their car getting dents because you decided you couldn’t be inconvenienced enough to put your cart away. Yes, this includes that dude with the man bun driving a Prius with Crossfit and Anti-Vaxx bumper stickers. As punishable as he may be, even HE doesn’t deserve to get his car ruined by a metal cage on wheels.

The second reason you’re an asshat for not putting your cart away is that you know somebody else has to do it for you. “But that’s their job,” you might rationalize to yourself. “Technically, I’m providing job security by giving store employees a chance to fetch my cart.”  To which my response is: You are a special kind of scum if you think inconveniencing someone else is doing them a favor. Your rationalization is literally the equivalent of pissing on the floor of a public bathroom to ensure the janitor has something to do. Or actively leaving your hotel room a complete disaster because you think it provides job security for the maid.

Stop justifying your shitty, lazy behavior by disguising it as concern for someone else’s career. You could give a crap about whether the guy that bags your groceries will have enough hours to support his family. If that really were your motive, you would stop giving business to online stores or stop utilizing the automated checkout lines. Those are conscientious and proactive efforts to help ensure job security for every last cashier and bag lady.

But, since we all know that’s not really your motive, to begin with, let’s just call a spade a spade. You just found a way to dignify your apathetic behavior by acting like you were doing someone else a favor. You’re not. The very least you could do is own it.

And these are the reasons I place so much importance on whether a person returns a shopping cart to its rightful spot. Such a seemingly inconsequential act actually speaks volumes about a person on a larger scope. It speaks to whether they are compassionate, thoughtful, considerate, or even just plain lazy. It also suggests how they view their own level of importance in relation to someone else’s career or job.

On the rare occasion that you see a random patron go out of their way to put someone else’s shopping cart back – marry them. That’s the kind of person you want in your life and the kind of person you should aim to be every single day.


  1. Dear McclainWarren –
    Thank you so much for posting this article. A lot of things make me hostile lately, but this one is at the top of my list. So infuriating to drive into a parking lot and find carts parked in car spaces – my favorite….in the HANDICAPPED SPACES. How stupidly lazy are “these” people”?!. I often return errant carts to the corral hoping to shame the person who left it wherever – yes, I’m sometimes lucky enough to tell them what jerks they are (this makes me feel a little better).

  2. I have seen this happen so many times in many parking lots, it totally gets under my skin to see the disrespect for others and the property of the stores these inconsiderate lazy slugs, but really what else do we expect from disrespectful dimwits!

  3. Marianne

    I watched a woman – parked immediately adjacent to left of the cart corral – roll her shopping cart to the empty parking space on her right. And then she drove away.

  4. Jeremy

    I cannot express in enough words how EXCELLENT this article is. I am literally amazed at how lazy people can be when it comes to leaving their shopping carts in the parking lot. The ironic fact is that they can push the cart for miles in the store and then can’t push it TEN FEET to the cart corral?! By the way, as a grocery store employee in my early years, it wasn’t fun having to go collect carts for lazy people in several inches of snow and try to drag them all in at the end of the night, while they were sitting on their lethargic rear-ends in their home. Those who do this are an exceptional type of scum.

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