September 22, 2008

Shopping Carts and Fire Trucks

If you will, picture me muttering "Shopping Carts and Fire Trucks" to myself. I am sitting in front of a grand piano with a pad of a paper that is adorned with what looks like song lyrics. I can't help it, "Shopping Carts and Fire Trucks" sounds like it should be part of some cheesy song lyric about childhood.

Or if you want to run with an entirely different image you can visualize me in a basement standing in front of four other men. We all have long hair and are wearing t-shirts with the name of heavy-metal bands upon them. Yes, I am trying to convince the lads that "Shopping Carts and Fire Trucks" is the name of our band, the one that is going to make us famous millionaires.

Truth is that when I came up with the title for this post I hadn't had any intention of taking it in either one of those directions. Nope, the real impetus comes from the trip I just made to the grocery store and a basic observation about society.

You don't have to try real hard to find stories about the disintegration of the moral fabric of society. All around us the talking heads are issuing proclamations about bad things are today and how good they used to be.

Well, I am not going to get into a discussion of whether morality is failing, but I will say that courtesy is crumbling and "Shopping Carts and Fire Trucks" are a perfect example of that. Take a walk with me and I'll try to provide you with a clear explanation of what I am talking about.

When I think about my childhood I cannot help but remember how bored I used to get when I was forced to accompany my parents on the weekly errands. There were trips to Sears, Builder's Emporium and the good old grocery store. Since I have always loved food I usually preferred the grocery store to the others. It was the one place that I was always certain of finding something that I wanted my parents to buy.

Each week my siblings and I would wander the aisles and try to pack the cart full of stuff we wanted. In a different post I may have to share a few tales about this with you, but for now let's focus upon what would happen when we checked out of the store.

Mom and dad would pay for our groceries and we'd all fall into line and head back to the old station wagon. My dad and I would load the groceries and then we'd return the cart to the front of the store or at least place it inside one of the shoppping cart stables that are equipped throughout the parking lot.

That wasn't unusual. Almost everyone did it.

But around 20 years or so ago I noticed that began to change. People stopped returning the carts and just left them stranded throughout the parking lot. If you were lucky they tried to keep them from infringing upon the parking spaces, but there wasn't any guarantee of that. And after a while some people just gave up and left the cart wherever they were.

Now it seems unusual to see people return their carts. It is a pet peeve of mine so I try to be certain that I do it every time, but I am ashamed to say that I know that upon occasion I have slacked off.

This is just a complete lack of regard for others. I don't know how else to phrase it. But if that is not enough let's talk about fire trucks.

When we learned how to drive we were all instructed in how to respond to emergency vehicles. When you saw a fire truck/ambulance you pulled over to the side of the road and let them pass. It didn't matter what direction they were heading in, you just pulled over and waited for them to pass.

It is another courtesy that I see people ignoring. I can't count the number of times where I have watched as other drivers just continue driving. Now granted some of them are unaware of the emergency vehicles and they just keep going. If I only saw the occasional vehicle doing this I wouldn't think anything of it, but that is not what I see.

Far too often I see people just continue driving and I can't help but wonder if they haven't any regard for others. Presumably those trucks are racing to help people out who could very well be in a life or death situation. Presumably it could be a situation in which an additional minute could be catastrophic.

If for no other reason I get out of the way of those trucks because I like to think that others would do the same for me. I may not always be the most courteous man or be as good as I should be, but the effort is made.

But society is changing and this is not positive. We spend more time living in our electronic bubbles expecting instant gratification. Want to see more examples of the disintegration of courtesy just watch what happens in places where there are lines, such as the bank.

Far too many people think that they are more important than others...

Ok, enough of this. Mondays are hard enough without bitching all the time. I think that I liked this post better when I was fantasing about writing music or forming a rock band.


Kate said...

The carts! The carts make me crazy. I do think that they should maybe put a cart corral thingy near the handicap spaces, where I see the majority of them, but for the most part - I glare at people and make rude comments under my breath.

I hate that common courtesy seems so less common.

FlutePrayer said...

I try to return 2 or 3 carts that are blocking parking places in congested parking lots, especially at Costco. It's not hard to do, and it sort of erases the rudeness. Kind of.

Jack said...


The way people treat the carts irks me.


Little things help.

Debbie said...

People are even lazier today, they won't even put the carts in the designated area IN the parking lot. They leave them IN the parking spaces.

Looking back, I remember when I was a kid going to Sears with my parents. My daddy would always end up by the candy and nuts counter. Sears had a huge selection, took up almost one entire isle. We always left the store with at least one, usually two, different kinds of nuts and candy. Ummmmm. Hot cashews, coconut balls, yum yum.

Debbie Hamilton
Right Truth

rubenh ( said...

soooo many carts! it makes me dizzy

Jack said...

We always left the store with at least one, usually two, different kinds of nuts and candy. Ummmmm. Hot cashews, coconut balls, yum yum.

Yum is right.


Stop spinning. ;)

Batya said...

In Israel a lot of stores have a 5 shekel deposit coin to take a shopping cart, so if you don't put the cart back you lose money.

18 years ago I was reading a NYT article about how cars aren't giving right of way to ambulances, when I finished, there was knocking on the door. My neighbors told me to quickly get my bag with identification. My son had been hitby a small truck and we were off in the ambulance.