I’m convinced that there are two types of people in this world: those who leave shopping carts in the parking lot, and those who put them in the “return your cart here” section. At least, that’s how I see it now that airports don’t let you past security anymore. Back then, there were people who met you at the curb, and those who met you at the gate.
I’m all about the cart section/gate people.
Returning the cart is inconvenient. You have to go out of your way to do it. You load your car then close your door. You navigate around the oncoming traffic to push that cart into a tidy line, giving up a few minutes of your time when you probably have somewhere else to go. But you do it anyway. Why? Shared responsibility. You’re working together as part of a larger community. It’s being considerate of other people. Helping protect someone else’s property. It’s about more than just you.
Same thing goes for the gate people. You had to park your car, pay a bit out of pocket and walk a ways to bring a smile to someone you loved. It’s bigger than you.
So many people today don’t return the cart. They’re caught up in their lives. They’re so busy! Many important things to do. Can’t possibly spare a few minutes to walk 50 feet to help someone else. So they leave the cart tucked up on a curb, or precariously balanced between two other cars… An accident waiting to happen.
They are not part of a larger community. They do not share in the responsibility. It’s just about them.
Returning a cart seems like a small thing, and perhaps it is. I think it is a symptom of something more though. We demonstrate who we truly are in the small moments… the little things we do when we think no one is looking. Are we looking in or looking around?
We inspire our employees when we model that which we ask of others. Do we ask for urgency and good work, yet provide no feedback or take days to respond instead of hours? Do they stay late while we leave early?
We teach our children responsibility in our day to day actions. Do we tell the truth? Do we follow through? Do we tell our children to pick up after themselves, and yet leave carts lying around parking lots… too self involved to follow our own advice? What will our children learn from us in the little moments? What do we want them to learn?