Do You See The Shopping Carts?

“A hidden connection is stronger than an obvious one.”

— Heraclitus of Ephesus quote

The next time you go to the grocery store, take a moment to look at your shopping cart.

Study it’s color. It’s shape. It’s differences from other carts. It’s construction. It’s labeling. Do the wheel’s flow? squeak? wobble?

Then do your grocery shopping, occasionally thinking about the cart. After you have checked out, sacked up your groceries, and are heading out into the parking lot, take a look around.

What do you see? If I was to bet a dollar, you’d notice at least one shopping cart. Why? Obviously, because there are carts in the lot. But also because earlier you were focused on the cart. It wasn’t just part of the background. It wasn’t an afterthought. It wasn’t just a cart. For a brief moment it was more than a shopping cart.

While you were looking around, there was one other person who was looking at that shopping cart. That guy is who has to schlep carts in from the parking lot when it is snowing, pouring rain, or 110 degrees. He’s the guy who tosses the strap over the group of carts, then grunts and sweats while he pushes in the heavy load. He’s the guy who has to walk a few blocks to retrieve the cart left behind at the bus stop.

When you are thinking about the cart, you are seeing the world through the cart guy’s eyes. For a few brief seconds, you don’t see the grocery store only as a place to fill your needs, but as someone else’s livelihood. A place where an errant cart is more work to do.

Whether it’s the grocery store or the gas station, thinking about the guy working behind the counter can open our eyes to another reality. And every time we can see an old thing in a new way, look more closely at our surroundings, or connect with a person we didn’t know before, our world grows. That’s insight. It can humble us, make us more compassionate, and inspire us to act.

Such as the act of pushing a few carts back up to the store for the cart guy.

Yesterday’s gift of time … After getting groceries, I saw five stray carts in the parking lot. I pushed them all back up to the front of the store for the cart guy who watched from across the parking lot. 

* Note – I’m going to experiment with sending posts out in the morning for a short time. The morning is full of possibilities, magic, and an opportunity to do something better today – like giving time. 

About Eric Winger

Our perception of time is key to how we use our time. The most fundamental way to change that perception is to give our time. This opens us up to new opportunities and ideas from which we can build to really make a difference. ... Yes, we *do* have time to make a difference!
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3 Responses to Do You See The Shopping Carts?

  1. Kit says:

    I buy most of my produce at a local discount chain called Aldi’s. They have carts hooked together with chains you release with a quarter – you put the cart away, your quarter pops back out. It’s not a rental fee, it’s a reminder to put the cart away.
    They don’t employ cart pushers…
    I do think about ways to be kind to others , but I don’t do the work the other guy gets paid to do – because if we all took those moments to put the cart away (as we did way back when) then guess who is no longer employed?
    The cart guy.

  2. Eric Winger says:

    A few years ago I would have probably felt the same way, Kit. After all, it’s the cart guy’s job. He should do it.

    But now I realize that it’s much more nuanced than that. The cart guy is a bottle counter, a bagger, a cleanup guy, as well as being a cart chaser. He’s busy. He’s low paid. And he’s human.

    Years ago, I remember being a cart pusher. I always appreciated it when a customer would bring back a cart to me, or give a couple minutes of help when things got busy. It was nice to be recognized even though I was the low guy on the totem pole.

    Today, I see the cart guy, the checkout clerk, and the night stocker as people who might appreciate getting a small bit of help as recognition that his job is important.

    That he is important.

  3. Pingback: The World May Not Care | Give Our Time

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