Unkind actions fuel needless accidents

Posted Oct. 16, 2009, at 4:47 p.m.

There are two ways of reacting to the dent that appeared in the door of my brand new car this morning: with fury or with dismayed acceptance of the fact that accidents happen.

The problem is that as much as I would like to think that this was an accident, when I looked around at the Hannaford’s parking lot where my car was damaged, I saw no fewer than an unlucky 13 accidents waiting to happen. That’s because scattered around the parking lot were 13 grocery carts, which had been abandoned by shoppers who were in too much of a hurry and were just plain too inconsiderate to return the carts to the many cart collection areas liberally spread around the parking lot.

Looking at those carts, which any gust of wind would send careening into parked cars and even into shoppers and their children, it occurred to me that each one of those carts represented a random act of unkindness.

Similar to parking in a space that is reserved for the handicapped or to allowing one’s dog to defecate on someone else’s lawn, anyone who abandons a shopping cart in the middle of a parking lot is making a decision to be inconsiderate.

In fact, not only is a cart-abandoner risking potential damage to cars and injury to pedestrians, but also the careless behavior probably is adding to the costs of all of our shopping bills. That’s because staff time must be spent on a regular basis to round up all of those carts.

I’ll admit that I counted up those abandoned carts this morning because I feel angry and disappointed to have my week-old car damaged by one of them. But this is not the only time I have noticed scads of empty carts standing ready to cause accidents.

I’m sure I’m not alone in the experience of angling my car into a space next to a sizeable vehicle, only to have to stop short when I see a shopping cart waiting to be hit in that parking space. I’m sure I’m not the only person who has driven around a long row of parking spaces only to find that the few free spaces cannot be used until carts are removed from them. I’m certain I’m not alone in witnessing a car having to stop short because a rogue shopping cart is careening across the lot.

It is because I know I am not alone in this, because I know that everyone who uses a parking lot has seen the trouble that loose carts can cause that I am particularly frustrated to know some of us just don’t care enough to prevent a clear and present inconvenience and danger. It is not for lack of imagination that some fail to take care of this basic responsibility. This behavior can only be attributed to lazy inconsideration. And there is no excuse for that.

Rather than simply vent, though, I have one plea and two recommendations. For everyone’s sake, please park your shopping cart in a safe place. And if you see loose carts around the lot, take one of them with you into the store to use while shopping. Better yet, if you see someone abandoning a cart, hasten to take the cart while they are still on the scene and say, “One of these slammed into and damaged a car recently. I’ll be glad to return your cart for you today, but I hope you will think about this the next time you have a cart to put away.”

Just maybe, if people realize they might be embarrassed by their bad behavior, they will behave differently in the future.

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